14 February 2019
It only took one suicidal bomber to shatter the dreams of 40 CRPF personnel and their families. The look of helplessness in the eyes of their mourning families, aired amongst the visuals of their funerals, still haunts me.
26 February 2019
India strikes back, dropping 1,000 laser guided bombs wiping out the entire “terror” training camp.
The world watches the development with angst as it sees this as tension developing between ‘two nuclear powers.
Well, what these unfortunate incidents remind me is of a heart-rending situation I came across in a remote village in the state of Kerala.
A village in Palakkad, Kerala, sometime in 2000’s.
We were a group of internees attending a placement in a farm as part of our Veterinary Science course. An elderly woman who lived close by to our shared accommodation place took fancy on us, the ‘little doctors’ (as she called us). She used to invite us over for afternoon tea on our way back from the farm; which we happily obliged to. Gradually, we became frequent visitors to the small yet tidy house that she and her husband co habited, along with a cat and some leafy houseplants. The husband was a reticent fellow with dark circles around his thoughtful eyes, but we found the lady chirpy who would happily talk about anything on earth.
A very cheerful and innocent person by nature, our elderly friend (we used to call her auntie) would lovingly serve Keralan snacks to us amidst the many steaming cups of tea and steady chats about her family; that totally kept us engaged. Over time, we started seeing her as a mother figure.
Go back we did to that loving home, pretty much every day, to enjoy her hospitality and engaging stories. Her home, with not many embellishments, had two framed photographs adorning its walls – one of a young lady and her family, and another one of a young gentleman in army uniform. She would chat for hours about her daughter and grandchildren who were in one of the photographs, however never mentioned a word about the young lad in the other picture. We even started wondering if he is an estranged family member or something of that sort!
One day, we thought we knew her well enough to ask the question we have all been wanting to ask for a long time – about who the gentleman in the second photo is. The very moment the question was out in the open, we started regretting the decision to do so. A sober silence came about in the air and our elderly friend suddenly stopped talking. The lumps in her throat were as obvious to me as daylight, and it really shook me thinking about what could be coming up.
As we guessed it right, he was in the army. But the rest of the story was not something we imagined, neither a pleasant one at that. He was killed in a bomb blast in a railway station on his way home during a hard-earned vacation. It was the death of their only son that was conveyed to these elderly parents, who were eagerly waiting for his arrival.
Tears started trickling down her face as she narrated it, and we couldn’t hold back ourselves. “Our home has never been the same after the incident, his dad stopped smiling after the boy’s sad demise. Sometimes I find this melancholy unbearable – so I try to compensate for everything, by talking for all three of us.” She had the same look of helplessness that I saw in the eyes of the families of Pulwana victims.
This young soldier in Palakkad unfortunately did not sacrifice his life during a brave act, hence he did not get decorated. Nor were praises sung about him, but that did not make him any less adorable to the parents who kept their eyes peeled to catch a glimpse of his smile; and it was the very smile that death snatched away from them.
As the developments in Pulwama and Balakota potentially points to an impending war, these parents who were the living victims of an attack are stuck in front of my eyes so much so that I lose sleep over it.
Condemn violence we should, as violence only begets violence, let us not blow out the hopes of many fathers, mothers, spouses and children who live in anticipation of a happy world of their own!