The entire village of Rewari was in a celebratory mood. Young Sepoy Ram was getting married to Kalyanidevi, his heartthrob.
Those days, marriage ceremony and celebration were simple affairs and expenses incurred were peanuts. The friends erected the ‘Mandap’ with bamboos and drapes let loosely from all sides, a few mangoes leaves tied at the entrance to absorb negativity and eliminate evil eyes.
All boys in the village belonged to Charlie Company of the 13 Kumaon Regiment. To join in the celebrations, Major Shaitan Singh had confirmed his presence with family. There was a buzz amongst the villagers.
The early rituals of the marriage began. The aroma of preparing fresh ‘Jalebi’ was in the air. Havildar Gopaldas and a few boys dashed into the kitchen to taste their favourite dessert, even before they were served.
Major Shaitan Singh arrived with his family. An official welcome made the Major comfortable.
A few moments later, the postmaster of the village came running and informed Major of a trunk-call from Delhi.
“Yes sir” was the reply from the Major.
Turning towards his boys, Major commanded, “As expected, China has attacked and we are instructed to report for duty immediately. Boys, we are leaving by train tonight.”
The C Company got its posting at the NEFA region. Faces fell long but they never complained.
Considering the situation, Sepoy Ram was instructed to stay back. He refused.
He said, “I joined Army to serve my Motherland. I wish to be with the team”
The Major was at crossroads, but accepted as everyone convinced Major that Sepoy Ram would not be happy to stay back.
Ram was enthralled but had a bigger challenge to break this news to Kalyanidevi.
“I know, I have my responsibility towards you, but Nation comes first for me” he said emotionally.
She wished to say ‘No’ but then the patriotism of the young Sepoy prevented her and she bid adieu smilingly.
At the battleground, the situations were unfavourable. The C Company had a small team and the Chinese invaded in huge numbers.
The Major wished to give a fight with all his might but knew that was impractical. Due to shortage of ammunition and lack of backup team, he knew he would not only loose his team but also the post.
The message from the Control Room to Major was, “Your call, Major.”
With a heavy heart, weighing all his options, the Major announced, “Retreat.”
This decision though irked Havildar Gopaldas. “You may retreat Major, I will not.” Havildar broke out of ranks and charged towards the enemy.
“Sepoy Ram, cover Havildar” ordered Major.
Ram swung into action at his Majors call.
Before anybody knew, a bullet hit Sepoy Ram. It was a fatal shot and he was martyred on the spot.
For an irrational behaviour, Havildar Gopaldas was stripped of his rank. India, lost a brave soldier.
Sepoy Ram’s wish to join the Army was achieved, but Kalyanidevi’s wish?
Sadly some wishes are buried for life!!!
Author’s note – This is a fiction tale. However, the incident of C company posted at NEFA (North-East Frontier Agency) and the “Retreat” that happened, were just before the 1962 Indo-Sino War is true incident. Major Shaitan Singh (true name) was the Chief of C Company and he was decorated with (Poshtomous) Param Vir Chakra for his magnificient role in the Rezang La War.
Any shortcomings in the narration are Author’s drawback to exhibit the emotions truly.
Salute to all the Men in Uniform!!!
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