Sam Bahadur, the indefatigable field marshal and his tryst with death
Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, who had cheated death both on the battlefield and away from it living to the ripe age of 94, spent the last few years of his life in Connoor in the company of his loyal band of Gorkha jawans and attended to by his personal physician till the very end.
It was a relationship that developed towards the latter part of the life of Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw, who was born on April 3, 1914 at Amritsar, and who otherwise enjoyed robust health despite grave injuries suffered early in life, when he needed medical help to overcome some respiratory problems that had surfaced.
That was when an army doctor, Colonel BNBM Prasad, a pulmonary specialist, who is now a senior General himself, was assigned to attend to the field marshal. The two would eventually share a bond beyond the usual doctor-patient relationship that lasted till the end, and curiously enough even beyond his death.
Gen Prasad, who was until recently Commandant, Eastern Command Hospital at Kolkata was with the field marshal until his passing away, shared a rare insight into the life of gritty Sam, the fearless, moments before passing away.
Sam Manekshaw would relate many tales from his life to his doctor as they spent a considerable time together during recuperation. He often spoke fondly of his darling wife Silloo, who preceded him on February 13, 2001, after a brief illness. He would also speak of his doting daughters Sherry and Maja, son-in-laws Dinky Batliwala and Dhun Daruwalla, and grandchildren who also called him 'Sam' lovingly. Above all, the field marshal's favourite talk would revolve around his loyal Gorkha soldiers who were more than just a family to him. Such was his endearment with them that the household and the pristine elegance at Stavka are preserved as Sam would have loved it by the trusted Gorkha families residing at his quarters.
(Posted on 03-04-2014)