Friday, January 9

A Soldier's Wish

Three bullets in all – one on the elbow, one on thigh and one straight to the chest. I was thankful of wearing a chest guard that day. It was my work, killing people is what I am paid for, people also disguise us as soldiers. There is not a single day, when we are spared of cross-firing. The wound on my chest is now covered with a shiny gold medal, which brightly displayed my name, and a certificate which I held, mentioning the concession of money to my family. I try to measure the pain of bullet that I took, it rewarded me with lives of three enemy soldiers. Soldiers are habitual of pain, the word itself demeans them, and their work. Their passion takes them forward with courage and a will which loudly echoes the nation’s name.

I believe I am different, with a thought process exclusive from them. I remember the first time it struck my mind, perhaps isolation from the ones I long for, and the situations which I went through, I could the see the emotions, disguised as travelers making their way far, dragging with each step, farther away from me. Those were the thoughts once perceived by me, but being a soldier, something so delicate seemed naive and was considered insignificant in the realms of death, which we have to deal with, every single day. With every bullet I fire, I think about my home. I think about my family, the ones who belonged to me and the ones I could call mine. The imagination takes me above in an open sky, where I meet emotions such as love and longing. I ponder upon the time when my people would finally be with me. A grave thought arises in my mind, a question which is unanswerable with time. The expectations often end with grief.

I try to reason out my presence here at the border and my absence at my home, among my people. “I cannot let my country die, I must protect it” is what mind reflects back. “But are the ones on the other side of the border emotionless? Do they not miss their home, their family?” I try to argue with my mind or perhaps it was my heart who spoke from the realms of my soul. The discussion continues every night, making my tired body live another sleepless night. Before I could ever deduce the conclusion, the morning breaks out and with it – the risking of life. It was just another day, I wanted to reach my destination, but it looked as if something else was destined for me. For long unknown hours in despondency, I would talk to myself, finding solace in the darkness of life.

I could hear the heavy steps breaking into the chamber, it was an alarm to rise up for the duties once again. There was chaos everywhere and it seemed like a wishful thinking come alive. “We have been attacked by a large number of soldiers and their army is approaching the inner lands”. I rise up like a mannequin, with no expressions and as fixated as a dead body, preparing with arms, I look towards the sky once more, it seems to dazzle as if it might cry anytime. The sun seems to be setting, or maybe he wants to hide and doesn't want to be a witness to the cruelty of the world, and sin we might do. I try listening to messages my family had conveyed through winds, “Come home soon”, they uttered. It seemed like a voice of my mother. I came back to reality as the noises became intense.
Rushing outside to see a swamp of people firing, with no fear at all. You could see death lurking in their eyes, as if they want to accept death with open arms. “Was it my destiny too?” I questioned the empty air. My destiny was to reach home, but it looks vague now. We are ordered to march ahead and face the enemy. It starts to rain – I was right, the sky wanted to cry.

It was same this time, three bullets in all – one on the chest, one below the elbow and one sneering through the heart. I was thankful of not wearing the chest guard this time. I knew, it was my end. The imaginations seemed to stop, because they’ll be reality now. With every ounce of pain, I close my eyes and choose to surrender to my destiny. In the darkness of death, I witnessed myself at home again. Probably it was for the goodbyes to the family but this time – I was covered with a tri-colored flag, with medals kept on me. Though I slept in eternal peace and returned with a motionless figure, for the last time, it felt good to be home again...

Tanishq Sharma

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