It was love at first sight for Mahajabeen, wife of Lance Naik Nazir Ahmad Wani, when the two met at a school in South Kashmir around 15 years back.
Nearly one-and-half months after Lance Naik Wani's death in an anti-terror operation in Shopian, Mahajabeen, a teacher and mother of two, says his immense love for her and fearless persona are a source of motivation for her to encourage youngsters to become good citizens.
"I did not cry when I was told he is no more. There was an inner resolve which did not allow me to cry," she said, on a day the government announced the Ashok Chakra, India's highest peacetime gallantry award, for Lance Naik Wani who hailed from Cheki Ashmuji in Kulgam district of Jammu and Kashmir.
Nazir Ahmad Wani, a terrorist-turned-soldier who had joined the Army's 162 Infantry Battalion (Territorial Army) Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry in 2004, will be conferred the award posthumously on Saturday by President Ram Nath Kovind.
"He loved me so much. For me, he was my guiding light. He always encouraged all of us to make people around us happy, to resolve people''s problems.
"As a teacher, I am dedicating myself to creating good citizens for my state. Leading the young minds in the right direction is my resolve and I am drawing inspiration for it from my beloved husband -- the best in the world," said Mahajabeen.
Refusing to share much details about their school and college days, Mahajabeen said, "We met at school. It was love at the first sight. He was a great husband, always fiercely protecting us."
Recalling the fateful day of November 25, Mahajabeen said she was at her parents' house when the shocking news came.
"He had telephoned me the previous evening and enquired about our well-being. I had told him to take care of himself. But destiny had something else for him," said Mahajabeen in an interview to PTI.
"He always wanted to make his 162/TA Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry batellion proud. For him, duty was supreme. He was a source of inspiration for people in our area and community," said Mahajabeen, who is in her late 30's.
On November 25, 38-year-old Wani lost his life in a counter-terror operation against six terrorists in Hirapur village near Batgund, in Shopian.
Under intense firing from the terrorists, he eliminated the "district commander" of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and one foreign terrorist in a daring display of raw courage, officials said.
In the ensuing gunfight, he was hit multiple times including on his head. He also injured another terrorist before succumbing to his grievous wounds, they said.
Apart from his wife, he is survived by two sons Athar (20) and Shaid (18).
"He was a brave soldier and a hero right from the beginning. He always served for peace in his home state of Jammu and Kashmir," said a senior Army official.
Lance Naik Wani was a recipient of the Sena Medal for gallantry twice in 2007 and 2018.
"He always had the interest of the nation in his heart. He operated with Rashtriya Rifles units in Kashmir. Throughout his active life he always willingly faced grave potential threats and was a source of inspiration for others," said one of his colleagues.