While time has been escaping my clutches since some time, all thanks to my incredibly hectic schedules; I am sitting here wondering what to write next. That’s when the news channels are on and I see the picture of the 24 year old soldier who got martyred today in a cross-border skirmish. It makes me think about how grateful I am to these brave hearts for being there in combat zone and giving up their lives so that we the civilians can sleep peacefully at night.
I belong to the Army family. Currently, the third generation is proudly serving my country. Many of my summer vacations were spent in some Army cantonment or the other. I have seen how incredibly hard they train. And their level of love for this country is way beyond our imagination.
There was once this Major I had met, he is my uncle’s close friend. He is the epitome of a dedicated soldier; the one who does not think twice when it comes to serving for the country. I hadn’t heard about him in a long time, but one day, we heard this incredible story about his brave actions at the front and I was completely in awe. The story goes that during a cross-border firing, this grenade was flung to our side, which he picked up even before it landed and threw it back to the other side. He lost three fingers of his right hand and could not operate the gun anymore. But that did not deter him. After his recovery, he learned how to fire the gun using his left hand, practiced for hours and hours; and once he had mastered it, he begged the headquarters to send him back to the border. He refused promotions because of his intense passion.
This kind of a story is far too common in the defense circles; these men and women are incomparable. They get into the forces to serve the nation; they leave their families behind, they leave the comforts of their homes behind and live in incredibly difficult terrains and battle harsh weather conditions to make us feel safe.
The Siachen Glacier is one of the worst places in the world. It falls from an altitude of 5,753 m (18,875 ft) above sea level at its head, down to 3,620 m (11,875 ft) at its terminus. The soldiers have to face extremely harsh weather conditions; they can stay there only for 3 months at a stretch. They have to melt the ice in a helmet to have hot water or tea, that too freezes soon. There is hardly any vegetation. Staying alert and guarding our borders in such severe cold is a herculean task. And they do all of this without any complaints.
My Uncle had received the Vir Chakra, a gallantry award, in the 1971 war. He had sustained such high injuries in his thighs because of shell casings, he had to have 17 surgeries; 2 of them with the anesthesia and the rest 15 without it, with a bullet kept between his teeth. He retired as a Brigadier and he lives in the same city as me. I am in awe of him. Having 15 surgeries with just a bullet to bite to withstand that pain, is beyond comprehension.
The recent Uri attack was horrific, so many soldiers lost their lives and so many families lost their sons, husbands and fathers. The terrorists had fired on the soldiers in their sleep. My heart went out to them.
They sacrifice their comforts, their family time and above all, their lives. A huge respect goes to every one of them; None of us civilians can do what they do. I cannot think about anything else to write about. It saddens me to see so many of our heroes giving up their lives for us and some people going on national television insulting our soldiers. We need to respect them. They are amazing and their job is the hardest in the world. Every time there is a crisis, they step forward, every time we need them, they appear and help us, just like the superheroes we love. They do not complain, they always consider it as their duty towards the Nation and the people.
My salute, respect and utmost gratitude goes out to each and every soldier who is out there, away from his family, living in atrocious conditions and danger lurking around the corner; I can sit and write this article because they are there. Thank you for doing what you do!
“I will come back either after hoisting the flag or being wrapped in the flag” – Captain Vikram Batra.
“I regret I have but one life to give for my country.” – Prem Ramchandani