Saramma, a war widow who never saw her husband’s body

Saramma, a war widow who never saw her husband’s body

When tension mounts on the Indo-Pak border, Saramma Teacher remembers the most difficult days of her life. Back in 1965, India and Pakistan had fought another war. At the forward post of Ambala in Haryana was Saramma’s husband Kuzhikkala Puthupparambil Memuri P V Titus, a Naik with Madras Engineering Regiment that had been sent to resist the enemy attack.

Titus had been on leave for some days to spend time with his wife and two daughters before the war. One month before the conflict started, he sent them to Kerala from Ambala.

While the Indian Army was advancing, a Pakistani fighter aircraft deceived the Indian Air Force and dropped four bombs. In a flash, around 200 Indian soldiers on the ground perished, among whom was Titus. Saramma heard the news of her husband’s martyrdom on September 22, 1965. She was told that the death had been confirmed on September 19.

At that time, Saramma was a History teacher at Adoor Govt. High School. When a man reached the school to convey the sad news, she initially was stunned. However, Saramma recovered quickly. “I am a soldier’s wife who decided to share everything with a man who dedicated his life for the nation. I should never waver,” she thought.

Still, Saramma was crestfallen that Titus would never be able to see their third daughter. The war had started when Saramma was in the seventh month of her pregnancy. Later, she gave birth to Joyce Titus on December 22.

Deriving strength from memories of her life with Titus, Saramma brought up their three daughters. She never considered remarriage.

Now aged 85, Saramma had worked 21 years as a teacher before retiring from service in 1989. She was attached to the Elanthur Govt. High School at that time. She shifted from Kuzhikkala to Pullad after some years but as she was alone there, now lives with her second daughter Jessy Titus and son-in-law John Varghese at Memuriyil House, Puthuparambil, Kuttappuzha in Thiruvalla. While Jessy teaches at MT LPS, Kizhakken Muthoor, John is a retired teacher.

Saramma’s eldest daughter Jolly and the youngest Joyce died some years ago.

Memories of Titus

The Army never sent the mortal remains of Titus to his family. “I could not even see him for the one last time. There are no clothes or other documents either. Titus had won two seva medals while deployed in Kashmir. They too were not given to me,” says Saramma.

Her only relief was an amount of Rs 15,000 given for renovating her house. Saramma often takes the certificate handed over along with the amount from the cupboard in which it is kept, looks at it, gently strokes it and weeps.

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