Tham …. Khali ek do

Short Story by ARNAB PATRA (Entry No. 2)

Not words or commands they are emotions which resonate with every fortunate individual who has got the chance to serve his/her country wearing the coveted uniform.
The uniform : some see it as the shroud of death while some wear it as the turban of pride.

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is infront of him….”
Ashok was reading the book of quotes when suddenly the bell rung and the class dispersed for the lunch break..
But Ashok’s tender malleable mind was firmly imprinted by those words spoken by GK Chesterton a century back.
“Hey what’s up? Won’t you have lunch?” Rahul intervened and broke Ashok’s chain of thoughts.
“Just a moment….here look such a nice quote “
“Oh leave it…come let’s go and eat”


30 years down the memory lane Rahul was reflecting on his friend….
Now he was a serving Major in the Indian Army and was commanding a battalion in the Kupwara region of Kashmir.
His senior Col Suresh had called him up in the morning and given him lead about the terrorists. He had a deadline till midnight to nab them…..

(15 years ago)

Rahul and Ashok had put on their best outfits for the SSB interview for the National Defence Academy.
Born and brought up in Kashmir they had witnessed wars which tore across the territory. They both felt this was the best opportunity to give it back to the nefarious anti-socials who were responsible for unrest and bloodshed against their motherland. At NDA, their training started at the stroke of sunshine with routine PT followed by parade drills which ended with
‘Tham…Khali..ek do..’
These words had now got engrained in their minds over the years at the academy as this signalled a break from the rigours of life.
Later they went to IMA and joined the Indian Army as young Lieutenants in the Spring of 2006.

( 15th Jan , 2021)

Chilly wind gushed through the valley freezing every soul in its path…
The troops marched across braving the chill towards the target which had been ambushed by the militants.

(15th Jan , 2016)

Terrorists were hiding in the abandoned hut and it had been surrounded by 2 sides : One end by Captain Ashok another by Capt Rahul..
Guns blazed in the dead of night and the night sky was filled with flashes of the bombs hurled from both sides .
That night saw the dissipation of a brave son of this motherland ….No trace whatsoever … Terrorists killed but that one casualty kept hurting Capt Rahul giving him nightmares upto this day …

(Back to present)

The terrorists were surrounded…careful planning and strategies had helped the Army gain an upper hand over their enemies under the command of their acclaimed leader Maj Rahul.
Pounce fire and attack but it was met with an unexpected counter attack ..
In the brief flashes Maj Rahul saw something which traumatized him beyond repair …
His best friend and coursemate was on the returning line of fire ..
A dead soldier reincarnated as a dreaded terrorist …
This sight gave him pain but that’s the way of life he felt and kept firing …
The militants ran out of ammunition and were killed one by one …
A single soul managed to run away from the deserted shed into the dead of night ..
Maj Rahul knowing well who it was gave command not to pursue him while he himself ran vigorously towards the enemy of Mother India….
A shout “Tham!” stopped the militant dead in his tracks …
“Khali…ek do!” He responded
“Boom” the muzzle rang twice in quick succession
The enemy infront of him was conquered ….
Maj Rahul now rushed towards his dear friend Ashok who was bleeding profusely….
On seeing Maj Rahul he said “I am proud of you brother …you might be surprised as to how I am alive….”

“Shut up (expletives)….why did to commit the act of treason against our mother to defend whom had thy taken an oath years ago…”

“I was doing just the same brother.. just not the way you do….
I was saved by the locals after rolling down the cliff that fateful night….
The next day I saw reports that said I was martyred in the encounter which meant I couldn’t join the services again…
But patriotism being engrained in me to the core …I formed a guerilla troop with the local youth to fight militants …
Sometimes we attacked army camps to get ammunitions but never killed a single soul devoted to our holy land…
Even now before you came I and my troop killed the militants hiding here…
And before we could escape …you attacked us from all sides and we had no other option but to fire to defend.”
Saying this he died in the lap of his comrade who by now was sobbing bitterly at the loss of a valiant child of the country.
In death thou remember the thing associated with that person the most
And for Ashok it was the quote :
“A true soldier fights not because he hates what is infront of him but because he loves what is behind him”
(Maj Ashok was posthumously awarded the Maha Vir Chakra for his valour and patriotism)

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