Monday, November 28, 2005

Echoes

Dear Mr. Rana Singh,

No words would be enough to express the bravery of your son Brigadier Ratan Singh. He was involved in the most important operations the army had carried out. He was a fine soldier and believed strongly in the pride of the nation. He single handedly fought with the enemy soldiers to make way for his colleagues which resulted in the capture of eight enemy bunkers. His death is a tremendous loss to the Indian Army. On his sad demise we share the grief with you and your family and pray that his soul may rest in peace.

The Indian Army



Damodar remained emotionless as he typed in the alphabets using the age old typewriter on his desk. The noisy growls made by its yanking cylinder and the echoes of the keys striking on it had already became a part of his life. Currently in his late forties, Damodar joined the Indian Army as a typist when he was twenty three and since then he has been making the obituary notes of the deceased soldiers to their families. From the day he joined his post, he wished he was fired from his job, for a better cause. But he also had to think about his wife and three children back home. And then he stayed with his job.

Damodar finished the letter and took it from the typewriter. That was the seventh one he had typed in for the day. The battle was turning severe at the war-front, the battle between fraternities which once fought in unison for freedom by driving away a common enemy. He took the letter with him and went to the major’s cabin. Now the letter would be sent to an army camp near the decedent’s native place which would then be delivered to his house, in an army vehicle.

Damodar knocked the cabin door for the major to call him in; and he didn’t have to wait for long. Major Ramesh was busy deciding on war strategies. Despite having a huge loss of soldiers, there were orders from the top that the points which were captured by the enemies shall be taken back at any cost.

“The letter is done, sir. The one of Brigadier Ratan Singh.”

“Where is he from?”

“He belongs to the village called Mirzapur, which is about 150 kilometers from here, sir.”

“Oh, so we ourselves can deliver the letter.”

“Yes sir.”

“Oh but we don’t have any soldiers left in our camp now. They all are at the battle front.” With a small pause the major continued. “Damodar, can you go with the driver and deliver this message at his house?”

“Sure sir.”

15 minutes later a jeep arrived in front of the office and Damodar started off towards Mirzapur to deliver the message.

It was a three hour journey. Initially the road was in a bad condition due to the shelling in those areas. Finally they reached Mirzapur. Since the village was pretty small, it wasn’t that difficult for them to find Brigadier Ratan Singh’s house. The driver applied the brakes in front of his house and the vehicle came to a halt unsettling the dust on its sides.

As the sound of the engine gave way to silence, a kid of age somewhere around six ran towards the vehicle from the house.

“Papa came! Papa came!” he was yelling on the top of his voice. On seeing Damodar and the driver and no one else in the jeep, his face swiftly tainted to steadfast disappointment. Still, with a subtle smile he invited the guests in to their house. Meanwhile, hearing his bawl, other children appeared at the patio, followed by a lady in her early forties. In the portico there was an old man who was reclining on a long armchair.

“Namaste Chacha, we are from the army.” Damodar spoke out to the old man, after entering the room. He assumed that the old man was Rana Singh, father of Brigadier Ratan Singh. The eyes of the old man slowly turned towards him in question.

“Chacha, I'm sorry to say this but your son died yesterday in the battle.” Damodar didn’t know how he said that until he completed it. Suddenly, a cry awash with disbelief, sorrow and pain originated from the side of the room. It came from the lady, wife of Brigadier Ratan Singh.

Damodar looked back at the old man. Two drops of tears shone below the eyes of the old man. It fought its way down the cheek. But it didn’t die on its way. The elder children understood the situation. But their eyes manifested that they were shocked as they joined their mother. The smallest one was still at the courtyard. Damodar proceeded towards him to receive a sweet smile from him. He took the letter he had brought with him from his pocket and kept it in the palm of the child. And the child ran towards his mother saying, “Maa, uncle gave this to me!”

Damodar couldn’t stand the situation any further. He thought about the umpteen letters he had typed out since he joined his service. He thought that each one had such a story associated with it. And those thoughts made him disturbed.

Both of them returned to the army camp. On their way back, Damodar was still thinking. And his mind was full of disturbances. Disturbances made by the sounds of a typewriter which kept on resonating inside...


30 comments:

silverine said...

What a noble purpose Damodar served. He undertook a far more difficult task than anyone. The task of breaking the heart rending news to soldiers families.

A great war leaves the country with three armies - an army of cripples, an army of mourners, and an army of thieves. ~German Proverb

Thanu said...

Very well written. There are so many Damodar's out there. Their jobs are so much tougher than the many of ours.

-thanu

kickassso said...

Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind.

John F. Kennedy, 1961

Thulasi said...

"When you get back home, tell them we gave our today for their tomorrow"

Indian Army war memmorial.kohima,Nagaland.

Jithu said...

> silverine
in fact even i was thinking abt that a lot. abt the person who delivers the message.. nice proverb there..

> thanu
thnx mam! thts so true.. some remain unnoticed..

> kickassso
sad but true..

> thulasi
speechless...

its good to see all those nice quotes here.. strong in firm and thought provoking... thanx guys..

>|' ; '| said...

i dont envy damodar's job.

in the movie 'bowling for columbine', a news reporter tells moore that some networks follow tragedies. doing that job, ie. moving from one tragedy to another can be nerve shattering..

hope and love said...

very touching..
made me sad..
:(

Jiby said...

This one was beyond excellence man...ur a superb storyteller... you touched us all with this one...regret i dont have the time to read your malayalam blog anymore.ur the best!

AF said...

very touching!!
we must really be thankful to the people who render their services for the security of the nation.Soldiers..!! must really salute each one of them..
imagine how the nation would be without such braave people who die so that others live in peace...

flutteringeyes said...

very well written

Gemini Girl said...

very touching :|

Geo said...

My 2 pence on this in my latest post

tangy said...

good one!

Jithu said...

> poison
hmm hv to watch that movie. lemme see whether i'll get from somewhere. thnx man :-)

> HnL
hmm..

> jiby
thanx man, though i cudn't go thru this story once again to optimize it.

> af
hey there. so true abt soldiers..

> fluttering eyes
thnx gurl!

> gemini girl
welcome to unCERTAINty :-)

> geo
sure i will read it man..

> tangy
thnx mam! :-)

Hima said...

well written and very touching...
just a lil doubt.. why would a major saab approve the letter to a brigadier?... it has to be signed by a higher athority!!

Mirage said...

That was so touching...the messenger has the most difficult job in such cases...breaking the news of some1's death to their family, it cuts through you...

Well written....

Ardra said...

very touching story...now gotta catch up with all u'r other stories...and the malayalam page too...

and thanx for dropping in at my place...
ardra

chips said...

Moving indeed......Makes one wonder about the futility of war...

Jithu said...

> hima
thnx yaar. hmmm.. well i dont knw much abt the hierarchies in the army. and yeah it wasnt an approval gotcha? :-))

> mirage
hmm so true.. its real hard to disclose such things to the deceased's beloveds.

> ardra
thank you. sure u may :-)) and welcome to unCERTAINty :-))

> chips
hmm.. thnx mam! btw whns the next post in ur blog? :-))

divya said...

very touching indeed..

pr!tz said...

Fantastic Prose!

xtremely_insane said...

my! that was a haunting tragedy. going thru hell everyday...terrible.

niki yokota said...

geee. i really feel sorry for the kids!!(T_T)
such innocent lil things....

Jithu said...

> divya
hey thnx :-)

> pritz
thnx mam!!

> xtremely_insane
hmmm.. :-((

> niki
yup.. children are the greatest sufferers. everytime..

Keshi said...

wouldnt wanna be in his shoes....must be traumatising...


Keshi.

Invincible said...

oh so touching !!
You wrote it to perfection :)

MadV said...

Who are we in front of those great people? Invisible.

Jithu said...

> keshi
hmmm.. :-)

> invincible
thnx man! :-)

> madv
so true.. v r abosolutely nothing..

moontalk said...

really good man. its sensitive without being sloopy. i really like the way u handled it. goos a few friends from army families...keep hearing these stories.isnt it ironic?so many of such stories...but in the end they just remain statistic...the death toll in war rises to 157...226 children orphaned...noone talkes abt lives, only numbers...

Jithu said...

> moontalk
hey thank you very much.. and welcome to unCERTAINty... hmm.. its all numbers that ppl are interested.. no one thinks abt those umpteen lives which get affected by these.. and is sad...