Sunday, 29 April 2018

'Diary Of A Soldier - 4' English Translation of Gautam Rajrishi's 'Fauji Ki Daiary'

  Kitne Haathon Main Yahan Hain Kitne Patthar, Gaur Kar !                                                                         (So many stones, in so many hands here, pay heed!)
             April 2017

One of Dushyant's couplets, along with slogans for freedom, is in full swing these days  in the valley below ..."kaise aakaash mein sooraakh ho nahin sakta, ek ptthar to tabeeyat se uchhaalo yaaron" -  'why can't a hole be made in the sky, just pelt up a stone, fellows, with all your might'.  And stones are being pelted up aplenty. The blessings showering down on stones these days are proving mightier than the prayers being thrown up to God. Stones are being pelted with intensity, stones being pelted up with might . Failing however, in making a darned hole in the sky. It's the heads of the uniforms that are getting split up, their shoulders tearing, knees slipping... but no hole is made in the sky, and how can it possibly? When Dushyant had made the call to pelt up a stone with full might, it had implicit in it the might of the truth.  And no matter with what might these stones, enveloped in a wayward,  false dream are being pelted, their reach is restricted to heads-shoulders-knees... it's not in them to make a hole in the sky. This shower of stones is not reaching even as far as us on these sky-high mountains.  Seeing the Kashmiri porters, who bring our rations and other things from the village below, sit down to eat in the langar - community eating  - with our jawans, I couldn't stop myself. I also joined in and when I asked them why they, like their kith and kin in the valley below, do not pick stones too, to throw in our direction... the reply of twenty-one year old Usmaan Chheti raised, among the sounds of slurping of mutton, such an echo of boisterous, collective guffaws that I panicked...what if it causes an avalanche! With an alluring  smile on lips hidden behind his sparse beard, Usmaan said with a little salute, "Saab, the thing is that in the valley below, freedom has been written even on the backs that are bowed in  prayer before God ! Just as children, who've grown up listening to ghost stories know there are no ghosts, and yet hear and repeat ghost stories... the youngsters in the valley below are in a similar situation.  What freedom is or isn't... these boys have no clue... but since they've been hearing it since childhood they go on repeating it and with it keep pelting stones for fun!"
The stones raining down do not agitate as much, as does the apathy of the Jhelum. Wanting me to shake up the Jhelum in its silent and serene flow and ask how it can remain so unperturbed when the children who play on its banks are going astray at the behest of a few nuts. The slogans of 'Go back, Indian dogs' are not as distressing as is the customary blooming of the chinars. I feel like hauling up each and every chinar tree in the valley and ask how it can continue to flower happily when the young ones who've grown under its shade are foul-mouthing its own country. It's not as saddening to hear these absurd demands for freedom as it is to see the reddening, juicy apples in the orchard. I wish to chew into these apples and say what good is your sweetness when the boys who've grown up tasting you are raising such bitter slogans !                       
Want...feel...wish...all in the mind ! unable, really, to do anything ! Disappointed, when the mind runs it's eye over the newspapers, the channels and the social media, it seems to be on the receiving end on that front too. From each and every quarte. The unbiased media, the honest journalist friends show the picture of the injured people of Kashmir but somehow the lenses of their cameras and the ink in their pens overlook the police personnel with split heads, the CRPF jawans with broken shoulders and the Security Force squad. with a limp. And no wonder, since the picture of these wounded security personnel doesn't raise the TRP ratings... the mention of these limping-groaning policemen does nothing to heat up the debate on facebook.
Such strange stories are coming up from the valley below... some from a small group of crazed youngsters involved in burning the office of the Tehsildar, die of a cylinder exploding in the fire started by them and it is the men in uniform who get blamed. A sick senior citizen, admitted in the hospital for many days, breathes his last and when his body reaches home a rumour is floated in the lanes and by-lanes that he died of police-beating and all hell breaks loose on the security personnel in the form raining stones. When an eight year old child falls while running and is abandoned by kinsmen, a soldier from Haryana in the security force, reminded of his son in a remote village, gathers him up in his arms, gives him water, drives him to the hospital in his vehicle and when the child dies in the hospital takes on his head the charge of having brutally killed the same child. It takes lots of guts to exercise restraint on hearing the adjective of 'Indian dogs' to your face. Under the circumstances, the restrain being exhibited by the men of CRPF in the valley is setting an example before the world. A crazy youth, approaches a man in uniform and catching hold of his collar shouts in his face, making a proper show of his knowledge of English, "You bloody Indian dog, go back," And the man in uniform responds by smiling and clasping the crazy youth in an embrace... the crowd is taken aback while that uniformed man moves away, bestowing a thousand silent curses on his own restrain. The SP of a certain region has his head split open by a stone... his uniform drenched in blood, but he stands facing a crowd with just a handiplast stuck on his wound with strict instructions to his subordinates not to charge on the crowd. The next day, a team of doctors declares one of his ears dysfunctional as a result of the injury.
... so many of such stories make their way up from the valley. Hearing them, I begin to envy my own and  my soldiers' good fortune. Thank goodness we are here, on these snowy mountains, watching the borders and not posted in that valley down below ! Had it been so, could we have exercised such restraint...!                     
Kitne haathon mein yahan hain kitne patthar, gaur kar !                                                                      Phir bhi uth kar aa gaye hain kitne hi sar, gaur kar!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
(So many stones, in so many hands here, pay heed!                                                                                       so many heads, have still turned up here, pay heed !)

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