All through my unusual yet ordinary adult life, I have always observed that only the turbulence on the surface is noticed, acknowledged and interpreted. The first impression is the one that remains etched. No matter how deep we may like to think we are, we hardly reach out to those intellectual depths trying to comprehend what may be the aftermath of an event. All the exaltation, admiration and adulation ceases, begin to fade with time, once glory is conferred, punishment delivered, vendetta redeemed.
Oh yes, this is very much in context with the acrimonious Pulwama incident. The dastardly attack on India’s army camp out of desperation, catching our soldiers unawares. Which code of war endorses attack on an weapon-less soldier? Which battle ethic upholds a gutless, unfair and cowardly act of suicide bombing? Patriotism and rage surges each time I think of the moment, because we cannot rewind time and undo the incalculable damage. The numbers of our martyrs have been counted; the quantity of explosives too, the time of tragedy recorded and damages accounted for ….but what about the scene behind the screen???
No calculations here. There are brave-heart stories like Salma Sahafeeq Ghori’s, 29, now a war-widow of Major Shafeeque martyred in Pulwama, or there are narratives of grief-stricken families, photos of widows and their children breaking down at funerals, fainting in the arms of a sympathetic visiting minister, flooding the social media. A quote by a minister or a leader plastered over newspapers, fiery speeches demanding justice, group discussions in corridors of colleges, offices and even on bus-stops and in queues, triggering a wave of sympathy, retribution and patriotism. Having read most of those posts, I know it is beyond anyone to fathom what exactly is transpiring in the heart of the woman who has been widowed, and who has not yet comes to terms with the reality. Like I said, we just do not go beyond the superficial turbulence.
When you lose someone you love beyond yourself, the first reaction is a weird defiance, then an inconsolable numbness, then comes the shock, you want answers…HOW? WHY? Angst and anguish are products of the fuss everyone around is making, with no vent. And then an abyss of grief when the truth eventually sinks in, when the memories of things said and remain unsaid, done and dreamt off, come back to haunt. Isolation offers a blanket to cover but not to comfort, and you know it is going to be a long lonely battle ground till the last day.
These women have been initiated in a crusade for the rest of their lives without any warning, any training, any support or back-up, any ammunition or platoon. They did not opt for this status out of choice! All they have silently consented to, is to hold the fort while their husbands were away, holding the country’s borders. These women bury the anxiety in their hearts, square their shoulders and put up a stoic front, day after day. They pump pride in the hearts of their families and children, manage the routine chores without any disruption and give incessant hope to loved ones. They become the ‘man’ of the family, keep it together and make the endless wait a way of life, without complaint or criticism.
These dauntless women turn anti-war, not anti-military. They continue belief in the greater good their husbands served with their sacrifice. They do not blame the government or even the enemy and play victim. Instead, these women hold a composed decorum, enduring apathetic probing of the harsh society and ruthless media. They shed silent unseen tears in private, accept their misfortune, turn it into armor and boldly face the presence of the posthumous medals, photos and certificates, glorifying the martyrdom of their husbands, everyday! How supremely challenging it must be to sing lullabies of war to their children who have but one question, ‘when is their father coming home?’
And this is just one battle at the end of the day. There will be another one on the doorstep at dawn. Another game plan, a different strategy to survive the day. A fresh situation in the war-room for conquest, a renewed dose for a valiant stance. No expectations or desire for appreciation or recognition. Just immersed in duty, doing what needs to be done.
So who IS the real warrior here ???