Just A Soldier10:13 AM
"Jane Anjane me hum kai bari aese logo se milte hain jinka nam hame shayad yaad rahe na rahe,rahti hai yaadein kuch un chand baaton ki,jine hum bhula nahi sakte"-Anki S
Drass, the second coldest inhabited places on earth had a certain air of unspoken silence in those days.The troops walked past the hoarding "Drass the second coldest place on earth",the unwelcome glances from the people.Parking in drass was strict with even a 2 minute stopover was at a risk of being interrogated.I out of curiosity asked one of the locals "Drass war memorial,how to go?"This side -> the symbolic silence again.
WHY THE KARGIL VISIT?
Although I had been to Leh before,what made it so special this time was the visit to Kargil.To many people if its religion and mythology that they find interesting,to me its anything that has war-rical significance.I always wonder what's so special about them,yet there is and there will,always be inclination towards those moments unexplained.It runs in the family may be,and it all comes from within.Branded as overtly patriotic,I have grown up listening to my grand dad stories as freedom fighter,listening to dad's pravachan on "Be simple and respect people",we never missed any single republic day or independence day event.As they say certain factors shape up your life,and my life is influenced by many.
KARGIL WAR AND FICTION..
Drass War Memorial is surrounded by Tiger Hill And Tololing range.The war memorial pays homage to soldiers who have sacrificed their lives in the Kargil war."The Kargil War" wasn't a piece of such interesting fiction as the recent movie "Mausam" had tried to replicate with shahid kapoor in portrayal of an arrogant air force officer,flying the MIG over the ranges.The next could be a spider man flying I guess.We are talking about real people,real soldiers here..
THE SOLDIER ON DUTY..
Certain explanations are not worthy of attention to many.After numerous failed attempt to woo the least interested aam janta to actually listen to what has bygone,the soldier bore a mixed expression a smiling exterior to "why am i doing it" interior.
If it was just any other museum,I would have hated it.How much I hated history in class X,still have those fond memories of my mother preparing notes on history,and reciting me as a story on a pre-board exam day.Life is full of contradictions,our mind play games we least like.While I hate history,I have an unexplainable fascination towards war,although both are somewhat inter-related.So,when we smiled at him,we saw a sparkle in his eyes as if its been months someone is at least interested.
It started with Captain Batra,the Kargil war,the ranges,the guns...a 10 minute walk inside the museum turned out to be of 1.5 hours...here's what we spoke on.
Anki:Where are you from?
A:All over India,Delhi now.
[We shared a few jokes..and to his knowledge,he knew more about Bihar than I did.I never stayed there for long]
A:Since how long been here..
S:Many years,yahi ab mera ghar hai mam..
A:Really,ap kuch kahani batao apni fir?
S:Chalo me batata hu[nothing beats a first hand experience] and the soldier was more than happy to share few stories of his bravery with us.On how the pitching of tent turned out to be disastrous in the avalanches of snow clad mountain,on how he saved lives,on how the people on other side of the border are just like you and me,except a few.On how much he loves firing guns,the skill that his son has acquired early on..wo army join karna chahta hai and I..
S:Mam,life tough hai yaha.Me shayad haste haste apko kahaniyan suna du,but life is really tough here.But chalo acha hai,even I'll be a proud father someday.
A:And where does your family stay?
S:They stay back in Punjab,my son and my daughter with my wife.
A:So..you don't miss them?
S:My biwi stays happy with the money I send back,usko akele shopping karne ko mil jata hai.Me bhi khush wo bhi khush.This man certainly was a happy-go-lucky person.
[Suddenly]What's on your teeth?
S:Kyon?I saw another mam with the same set of metal wires on her teeth,is that a style statement these days?
A:No,its just that my teeth was shifting to a little side.
S:Hame to hum jaese hain usi me khush rehna ata hai.Aur shayad apko bhi..rehna chahiye[It reminded me of my father,at that moment but then again..]
S:Ap kabhi ghar ana hamare punjab..
S:Mam..kuch log hai waha bahar,I have to go
S[To the people]:Drass war memorial is......blah blah blah
A:[It was spoken with such a farrata that I was amused.I asked him" ap din me kitti bari ye same cheez batate ho logo ko".
S:Ap pehli bari ye puch re ho,ni to log yaha ate hain,2 minute sunte hain,photos lete hain aur chale jate hain :)
S:I am just a soldier mam,log sune na sune ye mera farj hai unhe batana
The vehicle stopped,this time just in front of the war memorial.The war memorial was decorated with flowers and there were many soldiers,all of them busy to welcome the general in couple of hours.This time we didn't have time to share stories.This time we just smiled,and he asked me politely "aap firse?" to which I replied "me yaha ati rehti hu"
The day was as bright as ever.The "just a soldier" busy as ever.