Back in 1999, little school girls are told that they have to make Rakhis for the soldiers. The country was at war. It was a crucial time. However unknown to the seriousness of the issue, girls prepared Rakhis and sealed them in envelopes carrying their names and school names. I was one of them. I just did that as a part of instruction given by my teachers.
Few months later, a peon comes to my class and hand out my class teacher an envelope. She announced it was addressed to me! I was utterly amazed. My soldier brother had wrote me! He was Habib Khan from Jodhpur. It was him who received my Rakhi and had responded. Out of thousands of girls who had sent Rakhis, very few received responses.
Habib Bhaiya had began the letter thus, ‘a soldier’s letter for his sister…’. He addresed me as ‘Bharat ki Prajarupi Bahano’. ‘Prajarupi’ is phrase cannot be translated. He had addressed entire nation while addressing me! He further said that he was very happy to realise that in such a critical time there were people who were thinking about soldiers fighting on the borders. If they’d get such a support from the people, they’d succeed in gaining back every peak that the enemy had taken charge of. A thought. A consideration. A careful gesture. That was all that mattered. My eyes have filled with tears every time I read his letter. A letter which had come all the way from J&K. Carrying a brother’s love. A brother I hadn’t met before. A brother I never met after. Despite not having the tradition of tying Rakhi in his religion, Habib Khan had sent ‘Bhai Pasli’ with his letter. ‘Bhai-pasli’ is the gift brother gives to his sister after sister ties Rakhi on his wrist while praying for his safety.
I don’t know more about Habib bhaiya then what he had written in his letter. But i’m sure he is a poet at heart. The way he had chosen the words, expressed his feelings and written to his unknown sister (that too a little one) as if she was sitting right in front him; i’m sure there is this one trait I share with him. Being poetic at heart. I had replied him too. I don’t remember what I wrote back. But I had written it with a pencil on my notebook paper with a tricolour in the background. Haven’t heard from him afterwards. But over the years, I remember him on every Rakshabandhan.
And today, I remember him while celebrating Diwali. Indian prime minister Narendra Modi celebrated Diwali with soldiers on Indo-China border. He had appealed the countrymen to send messages for the soldiers. And here is my message for my my brother and his fellow soldiers who are protecting their countrymen with infinite patriotism.
Wishing you a very Happy New Year. I am grateful for your selfless service towards the nation. I have a lot to learn from you. All of us are paid for our various services. But all of us are not as patriotic as you. Your dedication towards your country is beyond your pays. You sacrifice everything you have for your service. Your entire being is for your nation. I have to learn this from you. I respect you. I salute you. Not only me, but your countrymen love you and care for you. We might not be with you to fight along with you on our borders, but we are with you with our hearts. Festive greetings to you once again. May you have a healthy and prosperous new year!
While my facebook timeline is full of unendings feeds of friends sharing they Diwali celebration photos, I keep thinking about news from the village Antehri (Haryana) where martyr Army Jawan Mandeep Singh belonged. Soldier, who was killed and whose body was mutilated by terrorists. His entire village did not celebrate this festival to honour his supreme martyrdom. However each household lit a ‘diya’ in his memory. The 30-year soldier was scheduled to return to his village to celebrate Diwali, but instead he returned in a coffin. (Read about it here.) Of course, I too posted festive greetings social media and celebrated this festival with my dear ones. I only want to convey the message that lets not forget our armed forces. Lets value the invaluable safety we are being gifted by our brothers and sisters working endlessly on the land, in the sky and in the ocean.
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