Well, I am not a strategist and am not going to discuss the ‘Two and a half fronts’ that some of you would have read about in newspapers or heard on Televisions. I am just going to write about the two and a half war which an Indian soldier is always involved in, irrespective of the border he is posted at. I am referring to the enemy from across the border, the home front and the terrorist who manages to sneak in once a while. The home front has got bit more tense and intense now with the ‘Corona’ unleashing an unabated offensive taking the world by surprise, rather the whole world was caught off guard; some actually napping and still not able to see the truth.
The soldier still stands steadfast, unflinching, managing all three fronts like a soldier should, ‘mind ticking, feet moving, mouth shut’.
The guard is never down come what may. Whatever the weather, the enemy actions; the flying bullets, the bursting shells do not deter him from executing his professional commitment of defending the borders and people behind. He knows that no bunker can save him from a ‘Direct hit’ but he still stands.
Terrorists do manage to sneak in small groups taking advantage of inclement weather, bad terrain conditions, most of the times with fire support from across the border. The soldier understands it and is quick to get on the trail, to eliminate them at the earliest. He moves, at times for days, in search of the fugitive irrespective of snow, rains or heat with just a ‘ poncho’ to cover, some rations in the ‘backpack’ to survive (who feels hungry in situations like these?) and the rifle ever ready to shoot. No pain or emotion (not even the image of a newlywed bride or a new- born child) can come in his way in this ‘Hot pursuit’.
He knows the jungles are bad, the going is tough, and the ‘bastard’ can be hiding behind any rock or bush waiting to fire. He knows that the ‘Coward in hiding’ has a sophisticated weapon and a few grenades to play with and may certainly have the advantage of taking the first shot and getting him but he still moves like a tiger pulled by his pride and the thought ‘He cannot let a handful of bastards hold his nation to ransom’.
Yes, many a times death stares starkly in the face but he does not retreat, just moves on to meet it and fight, and when it gets inevitable, he embraces death like a soldier. May be the image of the newlywed bride or the new-born child flashes past as the soul departs but he will not let his emotions overtake and weaken the spirit of his comrades, for there is a task to be finished. At the end of it all, there is no crying, no tears shed just a mission accomplished.
The corona induced lock-down has affected the soldiers like it has any other citizen, if not more. Many have not been home for nearly six to eight months at a stretch and most of the places they are posted at do not offer a 4G connection or a free-flowing Wi-Fi, no video calls. Most of them just manage to talk to their loved ones twice/ thrice a week. He is confident of the ‘Lady’ at home; She will take care of everything in his absence. There will be no emotional videos going viral on the media showing his parents, child or wife missing him or worrying about him. It is this confidence and the support of his life partner/ parents which strengthen his resolve to carry his duty efficiently. It is not that they do not miss him, but they know it too well that they cannot be the reason for his failure. They cannot let him fail the nation’s trust. They wait patiently though they know that this wait can become never ending and when that happens, they embrace it gracefully; they learn to live with his memories.
We got to learn from this soldier the meaning of life, the meaning of responsibility. We got to be ready always to face the enemy and fight our battles and not just sit and create emotional videos.
“You don’t get the right to be a soldier,
Just because someone called you one,
You got to earn the title, got to deserve it,
A soldier never demands, never cries,
He only ‘let go’ when he charges at the enemy raising the ‘War Cry’….”
PS : Based on bit of experience and more on the stories I have heard and my imagination….