A soldier for life

A soldier for life

Old soldiers never die, they just fade away', was a line from a popular song sung by the British soldiers during the World War I.

'Old soldiers never die, they just fade away', was a line from a popular song sung by the British soldiers during the World War I.

This line became even more popular when General Douglas MacArthur used it in his farewell speech in the Congress in 1951.

A soldier always lives by certain principles. Sense of duty, discipline, honesty, service to the nation, to the people, are some of the things a soldier sets store by all and strives to uphold them at any cost.

My eldest brother had joined the Indian Army against the wishes of my mother.

He served in the infantry for 10 years and gave the prime of his youth to the nation.

Initially he was not in touch with our family and I remember my mother telling us about his childhood days.

A few years later he started writing letters to my mother in which he often talked about his life in the borders.

When the Indo-Pak war started in the first week of December 1971, my mother was in tears almost every day, worrying about his whereabouts and safety.

He was engaged in war under the Madras Regiment at the Pakistan borders. In those days, our only source of war information was the radio.

Each news bulletin spoke about the advancements and achievements of our army in glowing terms.

We heaved a sigh of relief when the war ended with the signing of the cease fire document in the evening of 16th.

But we had no information about my brother for weeks! Three months later he wrote a letter informing us that he would join us soon.

A couple of months later one day he stood before us with a walking stick in hand.

He was discharged from service as 'a war-injured'. Seeing him in such a condition, my mother almost fainted with grief.

He consoled her saying that he had just lost three inches of right leg.

He told us that the news of the ceasefire had not reached them as they were deep into the Pakistan territory that night.

At about 10, a shell landed near their party and my brother collapsed in the paddy fields when a splinter pierced through his right thigh.

In the morning he was air-lifted in an unconscious condition and given first class treatment in Pune.

Even after the discharge, the army helped my brother in many ways.

He was given a job in the postal department initially and later he was sanctioned a kerosene dealership in Anantapur town.

While other dealers of the commodity made lots of money by selling it in the black market, he earned the name of a honest dealer.

When a local big politician tried to snatch the oil business from my brother, he resisted bravely and fought like a soldier.

He lived for forty more years and served the District Soldiers Board with distinction, besides winning a President's medal.

A few years ago doctors told him that his right leg had to be amputate ed,he faced the treatment with a bold face.

Two years ago when he died as the only war-injured person in the district, the Superintendent of Police, on behalf of the Government, placed a wreath at his coffin and saluted him for living as a soldier all his life.

The grisly Pulwana incident,the capture and release of our pilot Abhinandan by Pak has taken me down the memory lane. Nothing has changed in the life of a soldier.

He may use modern weaponry but his commitment to his duty and love for his country is the same both in the case of my brother and Abhinandan.

Because a soldier is a soldier for life, past or present. Jai Jawan!.

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