By Shruti Rawat:
I woke up in the morning and as I usually do, I logged into my Facebook account and checked out my newsfeed. On the top, was the news of the 11-year-old Alka bursting in tears during her father’s funeral. Yes, her dad was a brave army man who was killed on duty while on the border protecting the nation.
Every single time I see such a news article, my heart stops beating for a second and my mind goes through a small film of thoughts. Ever wonder what the child might be thinking or going through? How do you think the little girl reacted when she had received news of her father’s death? Her 2-year-old baby sister, who does not know what’s happening; how will she tell her that their father died for the and that they are left alone. The answers somewhat lay around me.
My father is in the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). It has been 28 years since he joined and most of his postings have been in ‘strategic’ areas. We never shifted with him and we have always lived in Delhi. So, we saw him only during festivals and occasional holidays, amounting to perhaps twice a year or so. When he used to come home during his days off, he always said, “My daughters are growing up.” This came as a surprise to him because the last time he saw us, we were kind of small and could only reach till his arms. This time, we could touch his shoulders and we had grown older which came with new responsibilities.
Whenever he goes on missions, all of us at home spend sleepless nights. We keep on calling the control room to keep a track of what is going on there. That is the time when we really think that no one should be a part of the armed forces.
The pressure that a child must go through may not be more than that of the spouse of the soldier, but it is still significant. We (my two sisters and I) were always told about dad’s postings and the operations for which he was going. So, mentally, we were prepared since childhood that this is the life he has and this is the life we have. Even though we are used to this, still there is a fear of a mishappening. None of us expressed our fears and feelings to each other during this time just to show that we are strong enough and that we are tackling the situation bravely. We acted as if everything was normal. We went to school, took classes, came home, mom served food, asked us how our day was, pampered us like she always did and laughed at our silly talks. But in reality, we were trying to set a light mood and make each other happy.
The words which have been said to us, since we were kids, while going back to work have been, “Take care of yourself and your mother. Do not trouble her and keep her happy. Study well and come out with flying colours. Make us proud and pay for the hardships we are going through.” These words mean a lot. So, we have had responsibilities since Class 1 to keep our mother happy, make our parents proud and show some good results in return for all the hardships that all of us are going through.
Rather than being a burden on us, these words give us confidence and reinforce the trust that our father has on us. They remind us of all the courage he shows while fighting against militants and they remind us that he is one of those brave soldiers who are safeguarding the nation. And these words become our goal in life.
During Republic Day and Independence Day, when we hear patriotic songs, we can actually feel them inside-out. Each and every word makes sense to us. We can feel the loss and pain of the loved ones, we can feel the silence that covers a family when there is a news of death from the war, because we all belong to one family.
These same things must have happened with that 11-year-old girl too, when her father would have left for the post, he would have told her something similar. And she would have never imagined in her wildest dreams that she will be paying her last tribute to her brave father. But she still stood strong, said good bye to her father with all due respect and now she is ready to live life as a war hero’s daughter.
And for us, a new day is a fresh beginning and we move further, with new hopes. At the end of the day, we are ‘fauj ke bache’ (children of the army), we are the brave hearts, we are the dare devils and we have guts to face all the problems which come our way.