Nation's real 'Heera'

Nation's real 'Heera'

The village I hail from was, once upon a time, known as a “village of soldiers”. Most families in our village had at least one member in the Indian Army. As the years rolled by, I relocated with my family to a city in pursuit of our dreams. But the recent blood-curdling massacre at Pulwama has reminded me of my village.

My thoughts particularly rest on Lance Naik Heera Singh Sodhi of our village. We would fondly address the lanky, well-built handsome boy simply as Heera. With his decent demeanour, he had endeared himself to everyone in the village. After joining the armed forces, the time came for him to tie the knot. Heera, who was posted in Kashmir, was called back to the village, on leave. 

Soon, his house began to bustle with joy. His engagement was to be immediately followed by a wedding. Our family was invited with extra cordiality as Heera was not only my childhood friend and but my sister had also played an instrumental role in fixing this alliance.

Suddenly, however, the call of duty beckoned him. He was summoned to report immediately to the border due to the impending Kargil war. The wedding stood postponed sine die. Sending their son from the wedding altar to line of fire required a heart of iron, which Heera’s parents had to develop. His family had a glorious history of warriors. His forefathers had served in the army and made the foes bite dust several times.

But this time, while anointing Heera’s forehead with vermilion, his mother could not fight back her tears. Heera smilingly assured her that he would soon join them for his wedding. Miles away from the war zone, days passed in the village with apparent normalcy. Though Heera’s parents were anxious, they went ahead with the wedding preparations. As a close friend, I too was lending them a helping hand wherever required. All of us were looking forward to the melodious clink of the bangles and anklets of the newlywed bride reverberating in their courtyard.

But one dreadful night, we received a catastrophic call about Heera’s martyrdom. The bullet-ridden body of the jawan was brought wrapped in the tricolour with utmost honour. The gut-wrenching sight of Heera’s last rites left everyone not only pained but also astounded. Whereas the inconsolable father was drenched in a pool of tears, Heera’s mother displayed remarkable courage. Unlike while sending her son to the border, this time, no tears rolled down. The indomitable patriotism did not let the mother of a martyr fall to her knees. This display of inner strength prompted a salute to the valiant mother and her martyr son.

Indeed, the Indian Army has countless sagas of supreme sacrifice. Therefore, we, the civilians, owe our gratitude to soldiers like Heera Singh — the true saviours of our lives. Undoubtedly, our Heera Singh was a real ‘heera’ (diamond) of the nation.