Red Salute to our

INDIAN SOLDIERS

 

In Batalik, you can't breathe normally. There is less oxygen there. The air is rarified. The lungs scream for oxygen. The blood vessels cry for oxygen. At 15000-ft, you are not normal. You cannot be. The human body is attuned to a certain altitude.

And that's where our soldiers are. Fighting the enemy. Facing the bullets. Dying alone in the snow. Falling to death from the high ridges. No one hears their scream. It's such a lonely death. A tiny piece of metal is all what it takes to die.

They are our infantrymen. The finest in the world. No other soldier has ever fought at these heights. At 15000ft, they can't move with ease. In Batalik, there are no tracks. Climb. Clamber. Crawl. A soldier carries a week's ration, ammunition, a 5.56mm assault rifle or a mortar or a rocket launcher. He carries over 20 kgs on his back as he pulls himself up on this rugged, cruel terrain.

He doesn't sleep. He doesn't have time to eat. He doesn't have time to urinate. Life is not what it is. Life is a shell. It is the terror of death. It is the courage of facing it. It is fear, raw, unalloyed, unrelenting.... the enemy is up there, somewhere hidden. It can see you, can track you down like a rat, can pick you out so effortlessly...and yet these men move, slowly but with determination to fight for the nation. To die for the nation.

You know how it feels to be up there in the cold, cold mountains, carrying a heavy backpack with a gnawing fear that you will never see your eight-year-old daughter. That sweet little thing with a ponytail and a smile that lights up your world. You may not hear her giggles, see her climb your shoulder, run around, throw her dolls in anger, paint the walls in doodles.... You will not be there for her.

You know what fear is. That is the fear. Not being there. Death is not what matters. What matter is that you will not matter anymore. And yet the soldiers go up the hills, like the charge of the light brigade, never asking questions, never expecting an answer. They know they have a duty, they have a pledge, they have a promise to keep. Their tryst with destiny.

It is not easy to imagine a soldier, an infantry man's life up there in Batalik, where the wind can sear your windpipe, chill your brains, make your eyes weep with pain and lungs cry out in sheer exhaustion. Brave. That is what these soldiers are. Brave in the face of death. Brave in the face of fear. Facing bullets. One hundered & Eighty of them are dead. Many more will die. Let not their death go waste, unacknowledged.


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Uteesh Dhar

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