American Civil War veteran Robert Green Ingersoll had once said, “When the will defies fear, when duty throws the gauntlet down to fate, when honour scorns to compromise with death — that is heroism.” And it aptly describes Neerja Bhanot’s heroic deed on Pan Am flight 73 on September 5, 1986 (... And Neerja lives on, Apr 22). Bollywood, which churns out potboilers by the dozens, has for once brought as admirable narrative to the big screen. Neerja’s brother’s recently launched book, The Neerja I Knew, is an attempt by him to personify her true character to the world and hopefully immortalise her in the process. One hopes that the book will inspire young men and women to strive and emulate her, especially when, in the course of their duty, people’s lives are at stake.
Gopal Nair, by email
Aneesh Bhanot’s tribute to his sister Neerja, a flight purser who showed exemplary courage and nerve in the face of adversity, struck a chord (… And Neerja Lives On, Apr 22). Putting on a brave front, young Neerja comforted the passengers and showed that true bravery ought to emerge in the face of fear. She saved the lives of 359 passengers and though she had the chance to escape first, she chose duty over life. Her heroism and sterling qualities are an inspiration to everyone. And thus she lives on in the hearts of her family, friends, colleagues and millions of others. I salute the braveheart.
Jayashree Kulkarni, Abu Dhabi