The air is thick with smoke, battle cries and the last laments of the dying soldiers, despite the thousands of bullets whizzing above his head, the soldier pauses the continuous barrage of shells from his machine gun and peers above the entrenchment that had protected him from the brunt of the grenade explosion that had burst just a few steps from his bunker. He was the captain of the troop stationed at the peak, they had recaptured it from the enemy just the previous evening when the sun rays were waning away and giving away to twilight. They were ecstatic even though they were tired and exhausted, they had done it despite the enormity of the task and without losing any of their own. He was so proud. But the morning hours had brought on a counter attack from the enemy. But they were prepared, he was the shersingh, he wont be defeated so easily.
He spotted his lieutenant lying helplessly a few feet away from where he fought, the explosion had injured his legs. He couldn’t watch his junior thrashing about like a newborn calf, his legs totally useless and with the bullets hitting the ground around him. Images of the young lieutenant’s earnest face saying he wanted to make his parents proud and get married and have four kids, flashed in his mind. He had to save him. His subedar begged him to not go out and offered to go instead, but he was adamant, he was the captain. He smiled at the teary subedar and saw the eyes that held only respect and admiration for him, now brimming with tears, and said, “”Tu baal bachedaar hai! Hatt jaa peeche.” (You have kids and a wife to look after! Get back). He crept out of the trench, the gunshots becoming louder and nearer, undaunted, he proceeded towards the young lieutenant.
The lieutenant had his eyes closed, awaiting the moment his life would be snuffed out of his desecrated body. The captain shakes him and starts dragging him back to the safety of his trench. The way back seemed to be longer and tougher now. Unharmed, they both make it back to the trench. The subedar sighs with relief and helps the captain to pull down the lieutenant into the trench. He places him on the ground and turns to lend a hand to his captain and freezes. The captain’s eyes are wide with shock, within seconds the front of his chest is stained red. At the very last moment, when he was at the brink of safety, a bullet had found its mark and pierced the captain’s back and tearing through his lungs had lodged itself in his heart. The subedar fumbles, tears blinding him as he drags the fast declining body of his leader and his idol into the trench. With his life-blood ebbing away, a multitude of thoughts cross his mind, happy that he was dying for his country, happy that he was dying a death befitting someone of his position, happy that he had saved his friend, happy that his parents were going to be proud of him till the end of their lives, regret that he would never know the pleasures of loving and growing old with a pretty face, regret that he would never be able to kick a ball with his son, regret that he would never be able to see the badge GENERAL VIKRAM BATRA. He smiles, closes his eyes and utters three words.
“Jai Mata Di”
Captain Batra was awarded the Param vir chakra posthumously, the highest military gallantry award in India, for the courage and self-sacrifice that he had shown on the battlefield. The chakra has been awarded to 21 soldiers till date out of which 14 were posthumous. Its because of the selflessness of such people who do not hesitate to put themselves in the mouth of danger to save the life of someone else that the world is still such a beautiful place to live in despite getting to read or hear about women getting raped in buses and old men being murdered in their homes. These are the people who make the world go around and truly and absolutely deserve respect and admiration from the core of my heart. Its not just the soldiers, a fireman who rushes into a fiery building to rescue a weeping baby, a policeman who nabs a dangerous armed criminal, they all make our life safer.
I am a big fan of fantasy literature, these stories always consist of a hero who rises up and takes responsibility upon himself to vanquish whatever evil assails the people even if he knows that he has to die, foretold by an old crone. The real life heroes are no different, bereft the dragons, bereft the shiny armour, and bereft the beautiful archer woman. I always imagine myself to be a part of that dystopic world as a fighter and a saviour. But what will I do if i am faced with something like this in real life? will I turn back and run out of the nearest exit? or will I throw myself in front of the teary eyed little girl clutching her doll and about to be gunned down by a masked man? It takes a lot of courage to do that. A person may say that this why a person becomes a soldier or a fireman, its because selflessness is inherent in them and they want to help or its their job. We don’t have a compulsion, we can always make a quick exit. But then there are people like Neerja Bhanot , another real life hero, an airhostess who refused to run away and died saving three children from a direct line of fire.
We don’t have to throw ourselves in front of the truck to show that we are selfless. It is really not necessary. But what all of us CAN do is perform little acts of kindness and selflessness, forgo a favorite bar of chocolate and give it to the young girl wearing a dirty dress and selling flowers on the road, take some time out to teach the little boy who cleans tables at the restaurant across the street, not pine for the flashy new dress on the mannequin and buy some simple clothes for the children at an orphanage near our home and hold the hand of a weeping old lady on a bench in the park and assure her that everything will be alright.
No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted