I am now only one & a half years old, but I will grow up in this world hearing the fables of my father, Lance Naik Hanumanthappa. In his death he did what millions of us living beings put together could not do. He united the nation, inextricably, albeit for few moments, hours or days. It is a big ask during these days of terrible churning in the society.
My mother may tell me of her conversation with my father the night before that disastrous blizzard, some years from now. What would it have felt like if she had known she was hearing his voice for the last time? Would she have changed something had she known? Would she or did she ever go week thinking of the unimaginable?
These questions I will be asking her repeatedly as I grow. Time may heal everything as it always does, though, but I will be waiting for that day when she gets fully healed from the pain and hurt.
Yet, I think my father was always attracted to the more courageous and demanding posts as an Army brave heart. In his 13 year service & deployment in the Madras Regiment, even when presented with better alternatives, he would choose the toughest locations.
Meanwhile my mother and I stayed back in our quiet and somber little village in Karnataka, fervently praying for his well being. I will remember, how my mother would
tell me small little tales to divert her attention from her separation and pain of loneliness.
I try to imagine what it must have felt like on the icy wilderness called Siachin. 20, 000 feet above ground level, in a desert of snow and freezing hails which could melt one’s insides.
Honestly it is difficult. The feeling is evasive.
I guess, leave alone entertainment even fresh and good food would have been a big ask. A mere glimmer of sunlight would be a blessing; it would be a happy day, I guess. Add to that the pain of separation from the dear ones, especially me, hard days of training and vigil on lifeless peaks, and dark-endless nights would just have been killing.
No soldier would fail to remember Siachin as a life changing experience. I tremble to think of my father when they dug him through 25 feet of cold, burying snow. A faint heart beat. Yet it was with the most inspiring of human wills-the battle for survival, that he survived. It astounds me to think of how his body survived nearly a week without food, that his breath did not give up.
I am sure that I will also be told that, during same times, some highly educated folks from as big a university as JNU rose up and shouted anti – national slogans, wished to destroy the same nation for which my father made the supreme sacrifice. It breaks my heart. For whom did he die ? For whom did he endured the icy coffin for so many days in Siachin; hung on, miraculously, to open his eyes once again in this world?
I do not think he would have known the intricacies of all this noise today, but he sure would have hung his head in shame when he would have known about anti national people running riots in heart of the very nation. He was too simple a man to have done anything else, other than hoping that these children gain some light.
I also hope and pray for the same.
He has taught me that, after all, it is easy to be brave in a lighted, comfortable world. True courage is measured when the air is still and silent. When the world is crashing around you.
I would also bless the swift rescue team of 150 soldiers, who spent days digging out the bodies of their brothers in the snow. The undaunted pilots who landed on a thin peak 20, 000 feet above land. My father was then rushed to the RR Army Hospital in Delhi. He battled for over 24 hours, during which even our PM came to pay his respects.
While the gushing torrent of news may awaken patriotism in public once in a blue moon, I wonder what would it have been like to live my father’s life, who kept the nation’s name on his lips till his last breath gave way. He proved to me that motivation is essential in extreme conditions. And a consistent one.
And now my life begins without a father, whom I will never have the fortune to know. It makes me ponder over the Indian Army. they remain out of sight, until you require them. Does anyone have the time to ponder over their plight and day to day problems that they and their families have to go through, day in and day out? Our everyday heroes slide past our lives unnoticed, it seems.
This is a place in where I will applaud Nations like the US. Being a soldier brings forth general understanding, respect and care from their citizens who proudly uphold their Army. Even rock bands line up to feature songs with the prestigious regiments.
Sadly that respect for our sentinels is not present in India.
I know that the waves of time will inevitably dissolve my father’s name from the public eye.
But I hope they will remember the Indian Army. They blow the wind beneath our dreams, protect and nurture us as their fellow countrymen.
I hope that not another soldier has to die a ‘brave’ death in Siachin, just to remind our people of the courage and commitment of our soldiers.