Back from the front

Back from the front

Some lives lost, some were rebuilt and some went awry. While a lot has been talked about our soldiers who went to Kargil as men and came back as heroes - albeit in coffins, little has been explored about those who survived the war. Metrolife meets up with some survivors and their families and discovers that the memories of Kargil remain as fresh today as they were back in 1999.

“On the war front, everything changes in a minute. One minute you say this is a beautiful village. It is. But the next minute, everything can change. A soldier is used to this while on the front. But the inner battle begins when a soldier returns from the war. The scenes from the war keep recurring in my mind even today. Life after Kargil has never been easy,” says Maj. Gen. Adhir Ahuja* of 17 Jat Regiment.

While on the one hand there are some who lost an arm or a leg in the war, on the other hand, are families who are struggling to re-establish the personal lives of these brave men. Charulata Behra*, whose son Raman Behra* was part of the team sent to re-capture Point 5140, has a rather emotional side to share, “Raman was engaged when he left for Kargil. When he came back, he had lost his right arm and the vision of his left eye. He himself asked the girl to leave and a few days later they broke their engagement. Till today, we haven’t been able to find the right girl for him. It’s heartbreaking for me to watch him living a lonely life but whenever I feel low he just smiles and says why don’t you consider Kargil as my fiancee. She is happy today and so am I!” she says.

There are many such families, where the hours of darkness refuse to get over as they remember the sacrifice. “When my husband was in Kargil, I was glued to the television 24/7. I have two kids and at that time both of them were very small. It was difficult to answer their queries when my tears couldn’t stop. The worst part was that there was no contact with him. And there was so much on news.

“The media was showing so much destruction at one time that it drove me mad. I went through a terrible silence from outside while inside I was screaming and praying for his well-being,” says Lalita Goswami*, wife of Capt. Udit Goswami*, 11 Gorkha Rifles.

While there are families who have not been able to forget the Kargil trauma, others have accepted that phase as the testing phase of their lives. “My son was in the 17 Jat Regiment. It was real testing time for me to handle my wife and daughter-in-law during the war period. They would just not stop crying. I kept telling them that everything would be okay, that he would be back but obviously my assurance was not enough.

“What they did not realise at that time was that I, being the father of a soldier, was going through the toughest time because not only had I to take care of the family in his absence but I could not afford to fall apart even once. When he came back, I told him, “Tera baap nahi hota toh teri maa aur biwi ka kya hota.” (If your dad had not been there, what would have happened to your mother and wife?)” says Colonel (retd.) Khurana.
In real life, the story of the Kargil war did not end with the capture of Tiger Hill and other peaks. It continues to live on in the memory of those who were touched by it.

*names changed on request

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