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A Rakhsha Bandhan in Kashmir

Updated: Apr 24, 2021


SK Patra


A Soldier's Story - his wife rarely see him on marriage anniversary, children promise to score 90 percent not for Macbook but to see Daddy on holidays, sisters have politely stopped expecting call on rakhi. All this not because he is a misnomer man, but because he is the gentleman in every definition of love, care and supreme sacrifice. His mother , Bharat Maa comes first and everytime, we understand.

 

Socially, Army personnel are very-well connected with each other in the unit but are disconnected with the outside world and their relatives due to the nature of their job frequent postings and being in area with limited telephone connectivity. A soldier might not be able to attend his cousin’s marriage, the last rites of his grandfather or naming ceremony and birthdays of his child but he knows how to keep himself happy and motivated towards the cause of National Security and guarding the frontiers of his motherland. In all likelihood, he 'll be posted somewhere hundreds of miles away from home and thus his family now is his friends, his peers with whom he lives in a small little bunker at a remote location at a height of 12000 feet.



It was a usual bright Monday morning of August, the day of Raksha Bandhan, when I got a message that entire Battalion will assemble outside the unit temple.


Being deployed at LoC in High Altitudes Areas of Shamshabari Region of Kupwara district, the troops seldom receive any letters and posts and hence the Rakhis sent by our loved ones remain usually undelivered. The only Rakhi we get to tie while being in the unit is a thread tied by the Religious Teacher (Panditji) of the unit.

After the Rakhi Ceremony, I was sitting in my Room, acutely missing my family and like all other soldiers, who were away from their families on National duty, I was also longing to be with my family to celebrate this festival.


Just when I was submerged into my thoughts and was cherishing the happy memories, I

received a call from the RP gate regarding an injured civilian. On reaching the location, I came to know that a Bakarwal family had come seeking medical help. I saw Suleiman and his daughter, Taslima requesting the guards for help. I called them in as I had met Suleiman earlier while he was setting up his camp near our unit. Today Suleiman was not having his usual smile but instead was worried due to his daughter’s injury. On inquiring, he told me that his daughter has sustained a cut on her left leg. After inspecting the wound, I realized that the cut was deep enough and it needed to be sutured.


Taslima got very scared and started crying on hearing this. I reassured her that all will be

fine and struck a conversation with her while doing my work. While conversing, I came to

know that she is 15 years old, and has been coming here with her family since childhood.

She and her 3 siblings have never been to school and helped their mother in the household chores. She also told me that she got this cut from an axe while gathering firewood from the nearby forest which would be used for cooking purpose.


By the time we finished our conversation, I had also finished suturing the wound. I gave hersome regular medications and advised her to come back after a week for the follow up. Just when I was about to leave, she held my hand and said, “Bhaiya, kya main apko Rakhi bandh sakti hoon?” (Brother, can I tie Rakhi on your wrist as a thanking gesture?). I suddenly felt an overwhelming rush of emotions. We had a small ceremony and she thanked me for taking care of her. As per our traditions, I gave her some sweets as gifts and bid her good bye.


Yes, life in the Armed Forces is different from the civilian life. It tests one’s endurance

through difficult situations but a true soldier never gives up. Many-a-times he has to sacrifice his personal happiness when the duty calls but by joining the Army, one becomes the member of an exclusive and elite brotherhood and his social life becomes the Army life.


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