Sunday, 28 October 2018

Diary Of A Soldier - 13, English translation of Gautam Rajrishi's 'Fauji Ki Diary' (फ़ौजी की डायरी)

Chote kee har tees ab to ik nai siskee hui
(each sting of the wound turns now into a new sniffle)

Knock-knock...knock-knock ! The month of March, sounding a new knock of age, drenches the entire being in a shower of such weird and wondrous feelings each year! Birth-day is probably the one occasion when we celebrate the loss of something. Does age increase or decrease ? As a child when I saw grown-ups around me I often thought how amazing  life over forty must be, when one would be free to take each of one's decision. Ha, ha... free ? I had no idea then that with each increasing year the said freedom  becomes increasingly enslaved ... to circumstances, needs,... to family-ties and bonds,... to time, one's profession,... responsibilities,... extra labour being put in to stay alive,... enslaved to life itself,...! This new 'philosophy' is also perhaps a special gift from this over-forty age.

Out of the layers of this newly earned philosophy has emerged a new wisdom these days. The wisdom to turn a blind eye,... the wisdom to ignore,... the wisdom to deliberately overlook. The facebook posts engaged in debates, the whatsapp messages making a noise, the little tweets on twitter creating a ruckus, the  news channels working up a cacophany... to pass over all of these, to develop a devil-may-care attitude towards them all is a special achievement of this increase in age, believe you me diary dear. The practice in the social media to present events catering to arguments, convenience and to the advantage of a particular class, a particular ideology and a particular interest is becoming dangerous. What surprises is when a whole class of educated people, without putting to use its own maturity of mind, picks and chooses its own respective share of the truth. It  would still have been okay, had the matter rested with making a choice but the people then begin gradually to take their choice as the absolute truth and then start the exercise of thrusting upon others their own choice of the truth... this is scary.
Ever since I have learned to be blind to all this, I now see peace around me, peace in the country, peace all over. I wonder why, dear diary, do I not find more such people amongst my friends who can be blind to all this ! Shouldn't  this ability to be blind be, in a manner, the concept or the basic idea of having a perspective ? I wonder if the forty third rung of my age is making me a little too wise...!

This age of forty three years is also so weird... isn't it...when size thirty is tight on the waist and size thirty two, too loose. These darned jeans-makers do not keep any option for size thirty one!

There has been a halt in the snowfall for the past few days . But the white layers are piled so high that it makes one jittery to think ... how is all of this going to melt ? The ability of the faint lamp-like flicker of the Sungod is, for the time being, under a curtain of doubt, which will lift when it will. Till that time the terrible terror of this snowfall and bone chilling cold may well keep the spectres of jihad hidden inside some cave or the other, and its outcome is a stamp of approval from the brigade commander saab for a month's leave for me. I am going home after thirteen months. If the weather remains clear like this tomorrow too, I will reach Srinagar comfortably by the helicopter that brings in provisions. Otherwise, a seven hour trek down these high mountains... then a five to six hour journey by jeep on the snow-wet roads till Srinagar... and only then a flight to Patna.

Chhutki, my little girl, has grown older by one more year without her papa... she is ten now. A page from an eight year old diary flips open... with details of an eight year old leave... a yellowing page of the diary...pointing out the wound received from the enemy bullet and the smile of a two year old Chhutki.  Something like...

"The distance from Srinagar to Patna by a floundering Air-India plane, even though it has to fly over the mountain ranges of Pirpanjal, is covered only in four hours and a half hours... the five hour distance from Patna to Saharasa however is not coming to an end even though it is now close to nine hours. The speed of the train is motivating me to get down and start jogging by its side. But otherwise the chair in this train, which is moving with the speed of a turtle, is a relief after two and a half months on a white sheeted hospital bed. I do not have a reserved seat in the only AC chair-car in the train... but Kundan Singh ji knows me, properly, by my name. Kundan is the TT appointed for this only AC car and is quite perturbed over the fact. He is startled to hear my name and moving a sage-like baba from the seat by the window... the window on the left my plastered up left hand doesn't have any problem, assigns the seat to me. As the AC in the chair car is on its full swing, the bone in my left hand has begun to sting... desire for a pain killer... opening the door I come near the toilet. Even 'Wills' manufactuerers wouldn't be knowing what an effective pain killer they've created in king size which goes by the name of 'Classic' !  Kundan Prasad ji is lurking around. I guess what he wants and offer a king size pain killer to him also. His hand, a little hesitant, extends and our conversation starts with the first drag. He wants to hear from me the story of this encounter of mine. 'You will not be able to digest the truth and it won't be possible for me to tell a lie'-  this weighty dialogue from me proves to be counter productive and inspires him even more to hear the story ! During this time I also come to know from him that a few local newspapers have, projecting me as a hero, printed a fully spiced up version of the the encounter. I get to hear again the clichéd phrases ... you people keep awake so we can sleep etc...etc. I feel nauseated to hear these phrases... my pain increases and the mobile rings just then... thank god... I get a repreive from Kundan Singh.  It is two-thirty at night (or in the morning?) when the train reaches Saharasa. Ma's tears are still awake. Why does God bestow upon each mother tears that are insomniac ? Papa tries, unsuccessfully, to laugh on seeing me. My wife is somewhat perplexed whether she should look at my face or at my plastered up arm and Chhutki is sleeping under the mosquito net surrounded by pillows. I make a noise and wake her up. She stares for quite a while with her eyes screwed up and then smiles... uff ! Why does the moment not stand still ! She smiles again. She has recognized me even though it's been six months since she saw me last. Ya hooo!!! She smiles...I smile...infected, the life smiles. The fatigue from the long journey becomes an absconder and the pain in the plastered arm no longer needs that king size 'Wills' pain killer....
"Dard saa ho dard koi to kahoon kuchh tumse main
chote kee har tees ab to ik nai siski hui

(I would tell you of my pain only if it qualified as pain
each sting of the wound turns now into a new sniffle)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

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