The News flashed “Army Major Killed in Action, Encounter still on”.
One more family destroyed! Hearing the news of a soldier getting martyred, fighting for the country, is the most painful thing. Belonging to the same fraternity, its no less than losing a family member. A member you’ve never met, never heard the name of, but when he dies, the loss is yours. Nothing can ease the pain of the family, who has lost a son, a husband, a brother or a father. Even with hundreds of miles between us, our prayers and thoughts reach the devastated family.
I was deep in my thoughts when my husband came back home from office. He scrolled over the headlines, “XX unit, this is where Rattan is”! “This is where Major Rattan is”? My heart skipped a beat. Major Rattan was unit Young officer and had left for a volunteered RR posting three months back.
RT, as we all fondly called him, was a third generation army officer. His vivacious and passionate personality charmed everyone he met. Popular with the troops, favourite ‘uncle’ of the Army Brats in the unit, RT was greatly loved. He too enjoyed every bit of this popularity and called the unit, “home away from home”!
The fairy tale Army Romance of Captain Rattan with his childhood sweetheart resulted in a very fauji wedding at this young officers place where the generations have served in Indian Army. We were sure he was gonna sober down a bit. But Anulika his newly wedded wife and now an Army Wife was a step ahead of RT. She became way more popular among the unit families soon. In a very little time, she became the Pied Piper, with all the Army Brats following her in all get-togethers and parties. They were lovingly called the ‘Big Bachchas’ of the unit. When they were blessed with a little baby girl last year, we all claimed ourselves as the Dadas and Dadis of ‘Ritika’! A name forwarded by the unit kids who spent months in finalizing the name which was a combo of the parents’ names. It was to be Ritik, had it been a boy. When Major Rattan was Dined Out , Anulika silently wiped her tears throughout the evening. She was going to her parents the next day. She was nervous, worried, sad but not scared. When RT had told her he wanted to go to Kashmir to serve the mother India and know the borders, she supported him, rather she proudly told him to live his dreams. She proved every bit of a hard core army wife
“Are you listening”? My husband nudged me, and I came back to the reality.
I was choking, holding back the tears in my eyes I asked him, “Do they have a name”? “Nothing yet”, he replied, as he started calling people to get more details.
I kept praying and praying. The perfect picture of the small Army family of three, was continuously flashing before my eyes. What would Anulika be going through? Ritika is just ten months old! What will happen to them? How would Anulika take this news? “Should I call her? Would she have seen the news? I wish I could be with her”, all these thoughts kept storming my mind. My husband tried to call as many people as he could, but couldn’t get any information. The other Officers and the troops had heard the news too, there was anxiety all around. The encounter was still on!
Just then my husband’s phone rang. It was the Adjutant’s call, “He must have got some news”, he said to me, then he took a deep breath, as if preparing himself for the worst. He answered the phone, and closed his eyes. “What”? I yelled. “It’s not him”, he said.I burst into tears. It was like a barrage of emotions had broken. I was happy that he was okay. I was happy that Anulika and Ritika would be fine, but then my satisfaction was so short lived.
The feeling is hard to describe. I was relived that our RT was okay, but I was equally shattered because it was some one else’s RT. Someone else’s joy, someone else’s pride, a son, a father, a husband and an Army Officer. He would be a Shaheed now! The image of Anulika crying over RT’s body had now blurred, but there was still another Army Wife, crying with her head on the chest of his soldier wrapped in the tri-colour. I just didn’t know what to feel. Imagine the state of the mother of a martyr, whose two sons are in war. And only one has returned, would she be happy for the one who has returned, or she would cry for the one she’s lost. I guess, she would be thankful and mourn at the same time. That’s what I did! But any tribute to martyrs can never suffice the amount of sacrifice they did for safeguarding our borders and securing our future.
It doesn’t really matter if you knew him or not, A soldier is a soldier, and the loss is ours.
Also take time out to read this book Soldier’s girl available on Soldier’s Girl: Love Story of a Para-Commando (First)
” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Amazon which is an Army Romance between a regular girl and a Para Commando and surely take you to the glorious world of Army Officers and their love lives.