Ik zakhm Main Mureed To Ik Zakhm Peer Main (The wound, the disciple, the Master in me merge into one) One looks again for that leisure...when it was possible to just lounge day in and day out and dream of one's love...'tasavvure jaanaan'. Loads and loads of leisure...the kind when making false and fake references to others, one talked to friends about you...so that I can, in this leisure, build stories around these lengthy nights. The nights on the border are long, very long... often longer than a lifetime...restive, apprehensive, all wrapped up in alert night vigils. And these nights have an umpteen number of stories that cannot be written, cannot be told...and even if told, there is always this fear of them going beyond common understanding. 'War' is the central character in all these stories. A war that takes place every day on these snow-covered, freezing and shivering, difficult to reach borders. Who, apart from these sentries, is able to witness these endless, every-day wars !
It's another matter that wars are not fought only on borders ! Many a time, even for soldiers...wars are fought, not only on borders. The enemy who, standing a stone's throw away stares you in the eye, or the squad of terrorists who, taking advantage of the foul weather forever push to infiltrate to this side in the name of the so called 'jehad'...together or separately have continuously been creating a war-like situation for the past three or three and a half decades. We may have tried to deny it by calling it 'low intensity conflict', a martyrdom every other day tells a different story... a story which may be nothing more than an anecdote when seen against that great first world war of a hundred years ago, but for an Indian soldier standing guard day and night on these freezing-shivering boundaries, this anecdote holds no less an expanse than an epic. This lone Indian soldier, cut off from the sight and mind of the entire country raises, in the backdrop of this untold story, the question as to why, when after that great war a hundred years back, all of Europe, America or even Germany could emerge as great powers and established, developed countries... this country of ours, even after having faced five wars after independence, presents before the whole world the picture of a tottering, helpless and hapless establishment ?
War can never ever, even remotely, be a thing of desire... especially not for a soldier. During any war, what a soldier fears - even more than death, pain or injury - is bringing disgrace to his uniform and his regiment. He fights any war for these two things..only... his green uniform and for the naam-namak-nishaan (name, loyalty, badge) of his regiment ! After each such war he looks towards his country and its people with only this small wish that his commitment get recognition,... that his sacrifice be honoured. After world-war-1 ended, soldiers in all the countries that were involved, were and are still looked at with the same love and respect that they had ever, even minutely, expected. But here in this country, despite - against expectation - having to continuously suffer the sting of apathy, the Indian soldier puts his life at risk each and every time to protect the borders. He watches, helpless and speechless, how the misbehaviour of a handful of his kin in a moving train is thrust upon their entire family... how against the atrocities committed by a few of his colleagues in the north-east states or the Kashmir region, his aeons long commitment is erased... totally. He is enraged, he is anguished, and yet, he continues to serve. Receiving more love from the pine and the cedar trees on the border than from the people of his country. Apart from the many, everyday battles with the pettiness of the enemy in front, the audacity of terrorists making sly attacks, the lethal lashings of the weather, the behaviour of the difficult terrain, he also fights a war with this step-motherly treatment from his countrymen... wars are not fought only on the border !
Well... the month of April is more than half over and the year still has its body cloaked in the freezing cold of the year gone by. The steps set up by the snow to climb out of the bunker show no sign of shrinking... still standing shamelessly high with its face turned up. Everything feels like it's wet ...the whole existence... down to its endless depths. The mind, anxious and eager for bright and fierce sunshine wants to bring the whole sun down on to the roof of the bunker. If only there was this flaming string of sunshine on which one could, squeezing out the body, hang it out to dry !
The nights are longer than a life-time, and the day - just a moment in that long life!
... and the night carries with it a memory, like a memory of you... despite all the bindings of duty ...and this small motorola radio-set sitting by my side keeps buzzing day and night connecting me to all the sentries far and near with... "Alfa Oscar kilo over" (all okay ! over !!). And you know this damned, teeny-weeny radio-set reminds me of you... each time, every time, with its non-stop reporting... "all okay, over"
Yes ! Really !! As slender... also as easy on the eye...as reliable as you, and to speak into it,... it has to be brought completely close to one's lips... just as with you ! You are going to laugh, aren't you, if you ever get to read this diary ?
Would that it was possible to signal from these snowy, remote mountains my ..."ok over" ... at times "miss you over"... and a little "love you over" through this radio-set to you too !
Had it been so, would the nights have still been as long as a life-time ?
Ha ha... I fear, if nothing else, these long, unmoving and stretched out nights may turn the robust soldier in me into a poet. I am reminded of a couplet by Farhat Ehsaas :
"Mujh tak hai mere dukh ke tasvvuf ka silsila
ik zakhm main mureed, to ik zakhm peer main
(As my pain evolves within and develops a mystic vision the wound, the disciple, the Master in me merge into one)