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There was quite a buzz in the classroom that day.
"She fainted in the Principal Office", my friend whispered to a group of shocked girls.
"What" "No" "Who Who"
An image of tall, slim and young saree clad lady flashed in front of my eyes and of her little son tagging behind her. She used to teach the primary classes.
A few days later, news reached us that she had lost her husband - an Army Officer, in an attack by the naxalites near one of the Northeastern states border. I never saw her after the incident. This was 17 years ago.
*Risha and I were in the same batch and did most of our studies together. She was this vivacious girl, always smiling and laughing about the antics of her sister. On my first visit to her home I realised that her dad was a highly ranked police officer, whom she lost at a tender age of 13 . A group of terrorists had blown up the bridge while he was driving across it.
If I remember my childhood days correctly, kids often have a unique way of protecting their best friends, even from questions that might hurt them. They are very sensitive you see, they know words could hurt. "Don't ask about her Dad" was a phrase often used by little kids to stop any ignorant new joiner from asking prying questions. I studied in different Army and Air Force schools across the country. And once in a while, in the lonely corridors of the school, I would end up consoling a sobbing friend missing her Dad. There is no right word, actually, there are no words that could console a tiny heart for the immense loss they suffered.
Do you remember this war cry of the daughter at her dad's funeral. Tell me if it doesn't rips your heart apart.
The life of men in defence services is unpredictable. They could not only lose their lives in major wars and attacks, but also while patrolling, while protecting the border in treacherous hilly terrains and scorching desserts. Imagine yourself as a young officer who along with his group climbs the steep cliffs covered in thick snow to patrol the border and while returning a massive landslide kills few of the soldiers. The soldier who in the morning made you some tea and breakfast is suddenly no more. Imagine carrying his body in a coffin to his family. To the Mom you have never met before, to the wife he would often speak about, to the daughter who doesn't even know what is going on.
"Don't ask about her Dad" would how her group of little friends would try to protect her from then on.
This marching cadence makes me emotional every time I read it. You can read the full version here
Some Say Freedom is Free
Well I tend to Disagree
Some say freedom is won
Through the Barrel of a Gun
Tell me why, why o why
Did those people have to die
Tell me why, why o why
Did those families have to cry?