I am sure I am not the only one who tracked the news every hour as Abhinandan returned safely home. I was literally biting my nails as the video shows a ramrod straight Air Force official walking into the gates of our country betraying any signs of the torture inflicted upon him in the last 60 hours by Pakistani Army. For me the thought that stayed on was the kind of upbringing Abhinandan had. The mother his mom was. I salute to mothers like Shobha Varthaman who raise sons like Abhinandan.

Mothers who teach their sons the value of inner strength, resilience, respect and never giving up, shape sons like Abhinandan.

What does it take to make such a soldier who would not break down under any adversary? How did he become the man that he is today? What gave him the inner strength that he has today? What makes our soldiers fearless?

Childhood conditioning plays a lot of role in shaping the person that one becomes as an adult. What kind of household were you brought up in? How did you see your parents operating in their profession? Did they embody the values they preached at home? And when 8 years ago, Abhinandan said in the interview that it takes bad attitude to make a good fighting pilot, it speaks a lot about him as a person and his upbringing. So I decided to find out more about his family.

Abhinandan Varthaman comes from a family that has served the country for generations. Besides his father, his grandfather had served the nation during World War II in the Indian Air Force.

His father, Air Marshal S Varthaman, a recipient of several honours including a Param Vishisht Seva Medal, had said in a message on Wednesday, “Abhi is alive, not injured, sound in mind, just look at the way he talked so bravely… a true soldier… we are so proud of him.” 

Dr Shobha Varthaman
Dr Shobha Varthamana

His mother, Dr Shobha Varthaman, has also been an activist for healthcare and education. More recently, she launched an online campaign to increase punishment for child sexual abuse convicts two years ago. She has worked in many conflict zones all through her career as a doctor with Medicine Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders). Now *that* makes a badass mother. A strong woman who shaped a strong son of the country who we are all so proud of today.

More power to likes of Shobha Varthaman who shape a few good men. 

Honestly, I feel mothers make a world of difference in shaping the person that one is as a grown-up. Mothers who teach their sons the value of inner strength, resilience, respect and never giving up, shape sons like Abhinandan. Here is a man who held his own in the most adverse situation there could be. He did not break under pressure. And he made us proud. So proud.

So, with tears in my eyes, I watch the video of his parents being cheered on as they board the flight from Chennai to Delhi to receive their son, I give a silent salute to this brave mother inside. She looks humble, calm and composed, unfazed with all the attention they are getting, just wanting to see her son. More power to likes of her who shape a few good men. And hopefully, these will be many more good women.


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