Havildar K. Palani couldn't attend his 40th birthday celebration and a housewarming of the humble abode which he had always dreamed of having. He was busy serving the nation.

A few days later, he laid down his life for the nation.

On June 16, a clash between Indian and Chinese troops resulted in the martyrdom of at least 20 Indian soldiers, and Palani was one of them.

Earlier on June 1, he had told his wife that he is being shifted to the border and it will be tough to communicate for a few days. 

And on June 3, his birthday, he had his last conversation with her.

Palani was disappointed that he couldn't be a part of the celebrations but promised he will be back soon. That day never came.

What hurts the most is that the corridors of the house he built with so much passion, will only see him wrapped in the tricolour. He couldn't touch its walls, couldn't play with his kids in that home, couldn't hold his wife.

His brother broke the unfortunate news to the family on Tuesday, and his wife fainted on the spot.

Later, as the relatives tried to console the family, some information was given to the media. Not from an affluent family, Palani joined the Army at the age of 18 after finishing class 10. It was while serving the nation that he completed his education and became a graduate.

Eventually he got married and had kids, but his heart was always set on building a house. He even pledged his wife's jewellery for the same, and just wanted the construction to be successful.

That happened, but too late. 

We salute Palani's exceptional valour and are eternally grateful for everything he has done for the  country. May his soul rest in peace.