06/01/2014 by Siddiqui Fayesal
It was a mine. We were encamped just outside the perimeter that was full of them. We knew of their presence but weren’t sure of their exact position. It was a sad day, Ayesha. Ram wasn’t the only one who we lost. The list is long, and it would pain me to go through them again.
What makes it even worse is the fact that it happened during a cease-fire. It was an exercise. A game, Ayesha! We carried the dead on our shoulders minutes after we did a victory lap with them. To think that I was sharing my bunker with Ram!
There was too much on my mind and writing about the details was the last thing on it. Ram, Balwinder and Rustam; we lost all of them. Within a matter of minutes the camp was a different field altogether. Tears were shed, Ayesha. We men cried our hearts out at the loss. Losing a friend in battle is very different from simply losing a friend. Losing your friends with their heads turned towards you and seeing their smile die on their faces is different. It is just as difficult to reconcile with yourself if you knew that it was just a twist of fate that it was not yourself.
Ram had called out to me, just a few moments before the mine blew up in his face. The other two were just a couple of yards behind him. Ram’s wife had sent over the family album. Balwinder and Rustam just wanted to tease him a bit. In the mad rush they didn’t realize that they were way over the boundary. The captain called them out to order. The captain’s second order was perfectly timed with the blast.
Ayesha. I did not think too much about Jr. and you that night. My heart went out Ram’s family. Balwinder was an orphan. He had no loved ones apart from our company. Rustam came from a big joint family. He was the son of a rich man. I was the oldest amongst the four, Ayesha. I was used to being called Professor by Ram; very cheeky fellow he was. You ask me why I didn’t tell you. You ask why I didn’t prepare you to face her.
I was lost.
You expected me to help you overcome your inhibitions and face the woman who lost her husband! Is that even possible? From thousands of kilometers away how do you expect me to put into words?
I haven’t been able to master that art yet. I don’t think I can. I don’t think I will.
Take care of Jr. I will be back soon, Ayesha. Hold on to hope until then.