TIRUPATI: The last text message Lance Naik Boggala Sai Teja sent to his wife Syamala read: “Happy ga undu’” (be happy). A personal security officer of CDS General Bipin Rawat, he died hours later in the IAF helicopter crash on Wednesday.
Teja was one of the 13 occupants of the IAF helicopter who died along with the general in the crash at Coonoor in Tamil Nadu’s Nilgiris district. He leaves behind his wife Syamala, a homemaker and two children – son Mokshagna (5) and daughter Darshini (2), aside of his aged parents.
Four hours before the chopper crashed, the 27-year-old Lance Naik made a video call to his wife in Andhra Pradesh’s Madanapalle town. He could not have a leisurely video chat with his children that day as he was in a hurry to prepare for the tour with the CDS. His son Mokshagna was also getting late for school.
Sai Teja made the video call from New Delhi to Syamala around 8.45 am. Little did she realise it would be the last time she would be seeing him.
Ending the brief video chat, Sai Teja told his wife that he was going to Tamil Nadu with CDS Rawat and promised her that he will call her again in the evening for a detailed chat with his children. Instead, what they received later in the day was news of the biggest tragedy in their lives.
Syamala, in tears, recollected, “My husband first enquired about what Darshini was doing and asked me to show her on the video call. He told Mokshagna to study well, when he told his father that he had to rush to school.”
Earlier, Teja had told his wife that he was feeling homesick and planning to come home in January. He also talked with her about his plans to take the family on a visit of Tirumala for darshan of Lord Venkateswara.
“It was a short video call. We both were in a hurry. He had to accompany his boss.”
The first video chat that day had lasted a brief while due to mobile network issues. He called her again. But she didn’t notice it as she was busy sending her son to school. He then placed a message saying, “Be Happy.” This was the last message she received from him.
Recalling Teja’s passion to join the army, Mohan said his son started preparing for it after his Class 10. “He always wanted to join the army. For this, he used to run 10km every morning and exercise for hours. Even after joining the army, he continued with that practice. We requested him many times to quit the army, but he ignored our words,” the tearful father recalled.
Sai Teja had motivated his brother Mahesh and a few of his friends to join the army. “He got positioned as Lance Naik within a short period after getting selected in various examinations. His commitment and hard work helped in his appointment as the personal security officer to the Chief of Defence Staff,” Mahesh said....