Please note: The article at the bottom of this post was not written originally by my Dad. It was edited by him and modified to fit the context of the Indian soldiers. This is already mentioned at the bottom of this post. And he’s even linked to the original on his blog. Most people who commented here understood that. Strangely enough, there are other people who cannot scroll to the bottom and read, and instead leave rude comments at other blogs.
If Obelix was here, you know what he’d have done, right? Tapped his head (toc toc toc), and said – “These trolls are crazy!”
Long, long time since I wrote. And the number of unpublished posts I have is unbelievable. I’ve tried to start writing and then lost the inclination, or had my mind blanking out, or just not had the time to finish.
The Mumbai Attacks, meanwhile, have left me feeling …or actually, have left me wondering what to feel. Angry? Confused? Outraged? All of the above?
I watched the news for four days straight, with only breaks for sleeping at night – horrified at what was happening, and the implications of all of it. Feeling guilty to even be sleeping. No reason for the guilt, I know. But staying awake and watching the news, and feeling the pain, was the only way to take part in what was happening in a city over 1400 Kms away. Over the next few days, I’ve even found myself putting on radio in the car, on the way back from work, and feeling instantly guilty to be listening to music.
Yes, I realise that this makes very little sense.
I have only been speaking about this with my parents, brother and husband – because I just don’t have it in me to engage in a conversation about this with anyone else who doesn’t feel the outrage that we all have been feeling. It is difficult to put this feeling in words, spoken or written. All of us have sat and watched TV with tears flowing down our faces. My brother’s had a fight with a friend, and my husband’s had an argument with a colleague.
Saahil’s friend is doing Hotel Management (so is Saahil), and all he had to say was that he was glad he hadn’t started training in either of these hotels. My brother was incapable of explaining to this boy that it was so not about your own self here. There was so much more.
G’s colleague said that he wished “all these Muslims” would just be sent back to Pakistan.
I’ve felt physical rage at just hearing these two stories from S and G, and do not wish to enter into any conversations myself with people.
I’ve been reading a few blogs off and on. There were people who just reported what had happened, but mostly they were outraged too. Some wondered why the Officers who died had to head these operations themselves, and couldn’t just strategise from the background since they were heads of various teams. Well, maybe because they were “Officers”, and one of the vows they take is to protect their country, their men, and then if they have any life left, themselves – in that order.
I’ve read in many blogs now that it’s sad how the young don’t care. And while I agree that it’s extremely sad that a lot of them don’t, I disagree, mainly because of my 21 year old brother, who does.
I heard people wondering what the big deal was with the Kerala CM not going to Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan’s home. And, while I agree that it isn’t wrong for the Kerala CM to choose to fly to Karnataka a little late, it is still inexcusable what he said.
But, anyway, while on the topic – this is something that might answer some questions that a lot of people have about why the media is suddenly so full of how important our Army, Navy and Air Force are. Yes, people have been wondering why this incident has led to so much being written about them all over the place, even though these same people do the same job every day in J&K. Why is so much being made of it this time around? No, it isn’t because the “elite” got attacked, and the “aam aadmi” didn’t.
We’re talking about them because this incident was not the same thing as what happens every day in J&K. If there is firing at our borders, it is between the Armies of two countries. It isn’t an illogical, all-out attack on civilians of a country by terrorists.
My family has had many people who’ve served in one of the three Armed Forces. Mom’s father (my Nana) was in the Army, both of my Naani’s brothers were in the Navy, and my Dad’s an ex-fighter pilot from the IAF. This is an artcle that Papa wrote while we were all in the midst of watching the news. Do read.
Half Man Half Boy
The average age of the army man is 23 years.
He is a short haired, tight-muscled kid who, under normal circumstances is considered by society as half man, half boy. Not yet dry behind the ears, not old enough to buy a beer in the capital of his country, but old enough to die for his country.
He’s a recent school or college graduate; he was probably an average student from one of the Kendriya Vidyalayas, pursued some form of sport activities, drives a rickety bicycle, and had a girlfriend that either broke up with him when he left, or swears to be waiting when he returns from half a world away. He listens to rock and roll or hip -hop or bhangra or gazals and a 155mm howitzer.
He is 5 or 7 kilos lighter now than when he was at home because he is working or fighting the insurgents or standing guard on the icy Himalayas from before dawn to well after dusk or he is at Mumbai engaging the terrorists. He has trouble spelling, thus letter writing is a pain for him, but he can field strip a rifle in 30 seconds and reassemble it in less time in the dark. He can recite to you the nomenclature of a machine gun or grenade launcher and use either one effectively if he must.
He digs foxholes and latrines and can apply first aid like a professional.
He can march until he is told to stop, or stop until he is told to march.
He obeys orders instantly and without hesitation, but he is not without spirit or individual dignity. His pride and self-respect, he does not lack.
He is self-sufficient.
He has two sets of combat dress: he washes one and wears the other.
He keeps his water bottle full and his feet dry.
He sometimes forgets to brush his teeth, but never to clean his rifle. He can cook his own meals, mend his own clothes, and fix his own wounds.
If you’re thirsty, he’ll share his water with you; if you are hungry, his food. He’ll even split his ammunition with you in the midst of battle when you run low.
He has learned to use his hands like weapons and weapons like they were his hands.
He can save your life – or take it, because he’s been trained for both.
He will often do twice the work of a civilian, draw half the pay, and still find ironic humor in it all.
He has seen more suffering and death than he should have in his short lifetime.
He has wept in public and in private, for friends who have fallen in combat and is unashamed to do so.
He feels every note of the Jana Gana Mana vibrate through his body while at rigid attention, while tempering the burning desire to ‘square-away’ those around him who haven’t bothered to stand, remove their hands from their pockets, or even stop talking. In an odd twist, day in and day out, far from home, he defends their right to be disrespectful. Just as did his Father, Grandfather, and Great-grandfather, he is paying the price for our freedom.
Beardless or not, he is not a boy.
He is your nation’s Fighting Man that has kept this country free and defended your right to Freedom. He has experienced deprivation and adversity, and has seen his buddies falling to bullets and maimed and blown.
And he smiles at the irony of the IAS babu and politician reducing his status year after year and the unkindest cut of all, even reducing his salary and asking why he should get 24 eggs a week free! And when he silently whispers in protest, the same politician and babu aghast, suggest he’s mutinying!
Wake up citizens of India! Let’s begin discriminating between the saviours of India and the traitors!
– Flt. Lt. Rajiv Tyagi
Edited to add: This article isn’t written entirely by my Dad. It’s just been modified to fit the Indian context. He actually wrote another piece for a newspaper, which I shall post when he sends it to me. (Hurry up, Papa!)