“If this be my last stand,let me go out in a blaze of glory”,the soldier thought
He checked the area around his ramshackle hut he was using as his fortress for now.Five terrorists with Kalashnikovs,Claymores and Dragunovs. All highly trained and extremely dangerous.His breath was ragged and his pulse was erratic.He could only muster so much energy for what turned out to be a very,very shitty day.He looked at the sky.Sundown in an hour,he thought.He looked at the cellar door on the floor where the kid was hiding.Backup was to arrive in T-30 minutes.He was all ready to go out,guns blazing.But the tear-filled face of the kid flashed before his eyes.30 minutes more..He looked at the badge of his uniform.Every army unit around the world has a motto.His unit’s badge read “Balidaan”,meaning sacrifice,the motto of his unit.As he was waiting for the inevitable attack,his mind took a journey all of it’s own.
Ever since he was a little kid,the soldier always wanted to join the Army.While his parents had dreams of him being a doctor or software engineer and forced him to reconsider his dreams and decision,he would have none of it.He still can’t put what made him to join the Army…Maybe it was the life of adventure that awaited him,or the respect that he would gain,or just the simple feeling of serving the country with a patriotic fervor,or maybe a combo of all three….He could never quite put his nose on it,but that feeling to serve the country was there.And as he grew up,that feeling only intensified.His father had given up on convincing him and told him to do what he thought best,while his mother couldn’t support his decision…After all,he was their only son and a job in the Armed Forces could mean certain death in some instances.But he was steadfast in his determination.
The opportunity to prove himself came during his final year of college.He knew it was going to be a tough task,but he was determined nonetheless.He was selected to train at the Officers Training Academy,Chennai after a week of strenuous physical checks and mind numbing interviews.He was one among the batch of 7 selected all over India.One down,one more to go,he thought.The training was no walk in the park either.Back breaking physical activities,crazy number of rules,and to top it all off,he had to study.. Study!!!He survived the training for a year,all the while,making new friends and learning new stuff.
At long last,his day came.Decked out in the regal military uniform,he proudly took part in the Passing Out Parade where the cadets become full fledged soldiers of the Army.He was elated,ecstatic even.His parents were damn proud.Scared?Sure.But for the moment,they were proud of their son.After the ceremony,he went to Kashmir where he was to be stationed.He was now a soldier of the Indian Army,but that wasn’t enough for him.He wanted to be on the side of the devils.He wanted to be a Para.
Being a soldier of the Indian Army and being a member of the Para(Special Forces)unit were two different things entirely.Only the most daring,most fittest,most intelligent and the most toughest soldiers would be considered for the unit…In other words,you’d have to be crazy(good).He enrolled even for that and somehow,even became a member of the unit.He was on top of the world.
After his induction in the unit,their unit was given a mission.It was a hostage rescue mission.The hostage in question was the 11 year old son of the Defense Minister.Apparently,it was in retaliation for the Defense Minister’s hardline stance on the terrorist’s motives.It was a top secret mission.As they were departing to the site where the hostage was held,the soldier felt a surge of emotions run through him.Was it fear?Excitement?The adrenaline going haywire inside his body?He wouldn’t know.And he definitely didn’t want to show it to his senior officer.
They landed a few kilometers away from the site to get a good view of the area.They checked the area and found it occupied by the most skilled terrorists.That didn’t faze them one bit.They were the most elite soldiers after all.But even the most elite didn’t count for a misstep in their mission.Somehow,a scout caught wind of their arrival and sent word to the terrorists.
And they came in with guns blazing,uttering the word of their God as they plowing bullets through the soldiers,or so they thought.The Para unit held their ground,while the soldier was given orders to extract the child at all costs.The soldier went up the hill,killing any enemy on sight while at it,until he reached a ramshackle hut.He went inside and blasted the remnants of the hut.He then noticed a cellar door which lead underground.There,he saw the boy,all miserable and tied up.The boy was scared on seeing him,but the soldier assured him that he meant no harm.
“It’s okay.I’m here to save you.”,he said.But before he could bring him up,he heard activity on the outside.Bringing the boy out now would be writing his death sentence.So,the soldier said,”Don’t worry.I’ll come for you” and hid the boy in a barrel there.As he went up,a flash of light blinded him.He checked the area and there wasn’t any evidence that a flash bomb was used.Was this a sign that he would die today?Most men cower at such thoughts and lose all hope of moving forward.But the soldier had a life depending on him to worry about.He didn’t have the time or luxury to think about such stuff.
As his mind drifted through his history,the sound of bullets firing brought the soldier back to reality.He returned fire and somehow dodged the bullets that were being fired his way.The battle lasted for about 20 minutes.Once again,the soldier checked the area.One terrorist was all that remained between him and freedom.But the terrorist was a crafty one,somehow dodging fire and making the battle hell for the soldier.He felt a little weak and checked his abdomen.It was hit.”So,I wasn’t that lucky after all”,he muttered and waited for the terrorist to strike.He checked the area.He was gone..What the??
The terrorist entered the hut,gun aimed straight for the soldier’s head.The soldier aimed likewise.Shots were fired from both guns.
The soldier woke up outside the hut,clueless as to how he even came outside.As his unit was approaching him,he waved at them and tried to tell something.But before he could do so,his senior officer passed through him like he was air.He couldn’t understand.Am I in a dream?He then approached the hut where his unit was huddled down.He then saw his bloodied body lying down on the floor.His unit was silent,but he could sense a gamut of emotions running through each of them.Anger.Sadness.Fear.Respect.He checked the terrorist.Dead.As he was contemplating all of this,he saw the boy being brought up from the cellar,a sense of relief and fear in his face.
“The silver lining in my white cloud,eh?…I guess I’ll take it”,he thought.As the unit moved towards the extraction point,the ghost that was once the soldier was just sitting there,enjoying the twilight.