Rest in Peace

Today I lost someone really close to my heart, someone whom I looked upto and had shared great memories with during my childhood. Though he was just another officer among the many in my Dad’s Unit, he was like a family member to us. As he is now gone, I wish to pay him a tribute by means of this letter. So here it goes:

Dearest Gautam Uncle,

I can’t tell you to how cheated I feel, for destiny has cheated me of your blessings and your company. When I heard the news today morning, I was misled into believing that you had just met with an accident and were hospitalized, leaving a shred of hope for me to pray for your recovery. What I wasn’t told was that you had left us the very minute of that accident, and had attained the heavenly abode . I don’t blame Dad for keeping the news from me, as I know he was just trying to protect me. He knew how closely knit we were as a family and that the news would break me. As a matter of fact, it actually did. Since morning, my laptop screen is stuck to your facebook page, which has messages from loved ones pouring in. I somehow didn’t have the courage to put in a few words myself, so I just stared on. I can’t think about what Aunty and your sweet little daughters must be going through, but I know this that your family is my family, so you shan’t worry.

It’s the part of being in the Army fraternity which makes you complacent towards death. It is like staring at death so often that you get quite bored of it after a point of time. But you fail to account for the fact, that when death actually strikes your loved ones, what would you do. I have never lost someone so close to me as you were. Hence, I am a little sad, a little heartbroken. It is hard digesting the fact that someone you knew so well, and met so often shall not be there for the remainder of your life. You will never hear their voice again, nor will you ever see them again. I flinch at the thought of what the ‘ Unit Get Togethers’ would look like without you quipping in , or how our family trips would be like without you being there.

You were always my favourite in the Unit and you were my go to guy for all the ‘masti’ in the boring Unit parties in Ranchi. As I grew up a little, and you grew older, you were still my favourite. When we were in Hyderabad, you were still as crazy as ever, inspite of becoming a proud father and having more responsibilities. I knew that my weekends would always involve chilling out at your place, and somehow that made me really look forward to them. For the voracious eaters we were, you were my source of all the different non-veg cuisines around in Hyderabad. From being driven around in your car to bouncing around at the Unit’s Basketball court with you, I have one to many memories with you which I can never forget. Now, I am 21 years old, still struck by the magnificence of the Colonel who was an ace at Golf, and could beat anyone down in a game on one-on-one at basketball. Words can’t describe to how terribly I will miss you, but then to what we have been taught by you and the likes of you, Soldiers and their families must learn to move on.

RIP Colonel Yogesh Kumar Gautam,

3rd Batallion the Bihar Regiment,

Indian Army

Died in Jammu & Kashmir

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Soldier’s Dairy #1

Flash Fiction

Lt Rahul Mishra, was the name of the officer whose charred body lay in front of me.He  had been killed in the operation earlier in the morning, trying to flush out terrorists from a two-storeyed hedged roof building, which happened to be the regional headquarter of the Lashkar-e-Taiba. Hardly a year into service, the lad had been pressed into action in the valley, as his first tenure with his parent unit, the 2nd Battalion of the Bihar Regiment. His enthusiasm and valor had been the talk of the town, and this had only prompted me to allow him to lead a section on his own today. With 18 terrorists killed in a day, at the loss of 4 of our own, the statistics were deeply in our favor, it was only the heart which seemed to be giving away

It was like yesterday when this boy, the son of an officer of the same unit had walked onto me,a young Captain, at a party. Smartly dressed for a 10 year old, he had a very calm and equally bold demeanor. On being asked about his ambitions in life, he had a monosyllabic answer, “Army”. One could see the flair in his eyes and it wasn’t long since that day that I knew, that he was no ordinary kid, but a brave soldier in the reckoning. It’s been 13 years since that day, and until today, I continued to see that flair in this boy. My seniority and my age didn’t prove to be a hindrance to my being held in awe by the qualities this young officer had.

It is the smoke from the burning of the terrorist hideout which seems to choke my lungs and swell my eyes, or maybe the irreparable loss which grieves me, I may not know. I just stand here and wonder, how will I carry this soldier to his father, who once protected me like his own, and whom I had now failed .