Monday, 19 March 2018

'Diary Of A Soldier - 2' - English translation of Gautam Rajrishi's 'Faujee kee diary' (फ़ौजी की डायरी)




Tere Hee Aane Waale Mehfooz 'Kal' Kee Khatir                                                                                        (So that you may have a safe 'tomorrow')
                                                         
The day feels sort of sad, for its the day to take a bath. No there is no such day fixed in the week ... only the day when the sun shows its generosity. Only on that day a bucket filled by boiling the snow reaches huffing and puffing the hole-of-a-bathroom put together in a corner of the bunker to wash this all-stiffened-up-with-the-cold body, and then it vents its anger for its short breaths on the soap-suds for a long time. In that hole-like bathroom, the time taken in taking off all the clothes and pouring the first mug of water puts to test all boundaries of one's will-power. At first, the ire of the panting bucket prevents the soap from forming suds and then, in case a few suds do get formed by default, the scoundrels turn so stubborn that they refuse to wash down the body...as if trying to give a colour of their own to the boiling anger of the panting bucket. Feeling refreshed and revived, having somehow coaxed and cajoled and managed to get the stickiness of the suds off the body, the shivering day is left with the quota of just one bucket of water. There is no one in the entire world who can teach planned management of available resources in this way, better than these thirteen thousand feet high, snow-covered mountains...         
The body, refreshed and wrapped in a washed and weighty uniform, at first bestows a thousand curses upon the swift snow-blowing wind that in no way allows one to soak in the sunshine and then, finding no alternative, sidles up to the kerosene bukhari which by now is blazing red inside the bunker and ponders  that  in the famous sher - couplet - by Janaab Mohsin Naqvi - "tez hawa ne mujhse poochha / rait pe kya likhte rehte ho" -  The swift wind asked of me / what do you keep writing on the sand'- 'burf'- (snow) could very well do for 'rait'(sand), for as per rules of writing a ghazal, both 'rait' and 'burf' hold the same weight. Also checks it out by humming it to the Ghulam Ali tune...yes...just perfect..."burf pe kya likhte rehte ho" - what do you keep writing on the snow. The phone rings at that instant...no,no!! This is the intercom ring...the official one, which invites annoyance and not joy each time it rings. The squad that had left at the crack of dawn to patrol the line of control has returned, the phone gives the 'all-well' report and immediately on receiving this report, the craving for tea raises its head... as though the accursed craving was also lying in wait of the report. The eleventh tea of the day. This tea in a borosil glass at a height of thirteen thousand feet can anytime give the delicious steaming beverages in Barista or Cafe Coffee Day a run for their money...
...must have been just the third or the fourth sip of tea when the icy wind changes its direction to the south and suddenly the mobile phone lying neglected becomes an object of supreme importance...the wind turning southwards and the mobile receiving a signal. The mobile receiving a signal and Whatsapp getting activated. Whatsapp getting activated and friends and family coming to surround you even on this icy height of thirteen thousand feet...
... the cheerless day breaks into a smile. The smiling day recalls the smile of the night gone past !
The heartbeats of the night, performing cartwheels and somersaults, cannot be measured. Even the best ECG. machine in the world would probably surrender if it ever came to measure these heartbeats. Last night when the dense mist swirling over the white sheet of snow had lifted its curtain for a little while, a young, medium sized deer buck had come prancing  in to hide in a bunker, writing anew the definition of fear and terror, the night's uncontrolled heartbeats dancing most horrendously in its frightened eyes. A small leopard family of four intending to feed on the buck, stood growling across the barbed fencing, on the enemy side of the border, feeling confused if it would be feasible to confront the rifled border security personnel in order to exert its right on its food. A few snow-balls thrown by guards in that direction had rid the leopard family of all its confusion and the four of them had returned to the jungle on the enemy side. The young buck, lying shrunken in a corner of the bunker and trying to reign in its bellowing breath had as if all the helplessness of the world gathered in its eyes. It had not the slightest inkling that its protectors, the border security personnel, sick of continuous meals of cabbage and peas - thanks to blocked roads because of heavy and incessant snowfall in the past three months - were eyeing it hungrily with a view to treat their palates to a new taste. A message was sent by the guards on a small radio to my bunker...for permission. My bunker had remained perplexed for a very long time...the heartbeats doing somersaults had suddenly started to do back flips.  Apart from the easing up breaths of the young buck, an icy silence prevailed far away in the other bunker in wait for the leader's permission... and over that icy silence rose a voice on the radio with strict instructions that the buck be freed. The leader's simple logic being that one who has come to you for shelter can in no way be eaten by you. Their uniform had not given the irked guards the choice to disobey. The young buck, by now calm and assured, was first fed plenty of cabbage leaves and then, with lots of love and affection was released in the jungle on our side.
The icy night on the border was calling out to the morning with a smile...

'tere hee aane waale mehfooz 'kal' kee khatir                                                                                              maine to hai apna aaj de diya'                                                                                                                                                                 
(So that you may have a safe 'tomorrow' -                                                                                                      I have alas given my 'today' away) 

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