1999
Arpita was anxious since morning. The situation at the border was very tense. As per latest update by the Army headquarters in Chandigarh, few Pakistani soldiers dressed as Kashmiri militants had infiltrated into the Indian side of the LOC.

Indian Air Force jointly with the Army ground troops was fighting to flush them out. As per army protocol, families had limited access to sensitive information. So, all Arpita and hundreds of other families could do, was to pray for the success of the mission. As Army wives, they had pledged their lives in support of their husbands for the safety of the Nation. Major Padmanaban, Arpita’s husband was heading his unit on this mission.

Arpita was consoling their 3-year-old irritable daughter Swastika since the morning. “Shhh,dad will be home soon. If you cry, he will be sad.” She somehow had a discomfiting feeling. Around 5 P.M. the phone rang.

The combat had just begun, so she was always prompt in picking up the phone lest there was some news about her husband. It was a call from the Army spokesperson from the headquarters, ” Your husband was very brave, but we are sorry, he is no more. “

Her world came crashing down. She held Swastika and a lone tear trickled down her cheeks.

2018
It was Major Padmanaban’s 50th birth anniversary.

The General Commanding Officer of the regiment, which Major Padmanaban headed, and Swastika proudly stood on the podium to jointly launch the coffee-table book authored by Swastika. This book documented the collection of his letters to his family, old photographs, and his life’s journey.

Swastika had learnt the lessons of bravery from her father. She was now training to join the army. It was an ode to her brave-heart father for his supreme sacrifice for the Nation!

Glossary:

This story is inspired by a true incident. It is about my senior in college who was martyred in the Kargil War. The names of the characters have been changed for anonymity.

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