“Nawwwnn…..” it was happening again. She clasped her hands tightly against her ears, but it didn’t help. The sound of the siren blared, indicating impending doom. She ran as fast as she could to look for a trench. “Radha! Radha run faster,” she bellowed, but the impact of the explosion absolved everything within. She lay there in the trench, unable to move, covered by rubble, whimpering “Radha, Radha.”
“Revathi! Revathi wake up my dear, you are safe. We have you my child,” sobbed Amma, embracing her tight. Indeed, she was safe but Radha’s name didn’t make it to the list of survivors. She fell prey to the greed of World War II air raids on their, so called, safe land, Singapore. The British army gave the Japanese, a tough fight to safeguard their colony but eventually surrendered.
A couple of years had elapsed since the first air raid but haunting memories of the fateful day were still afresh. She lost her dear friend, and Singapore it’s stability. Thousands of Indian soldiers were abandoned by the British to fend for their lives on foreign land. These Indian soldiers identified their common enemy and formed an alliance with Japanese under the patronage of Netaji to form an army.
Revathi, all of seventeen, was born in an affluent family but could palpate the pain of her countrymen. She was born on foreign land but her heart was truly Indian. Her father P. K. Rao a businessman, had migrated from India in his youth. His only child Revathi was going through a turbulent phase of uncertainty and stress as most of the youngsters of that era.
“Chalo Dilli,” chants woke up Revathi from her early morning slumber. She raced to her balcony to witness a sea of humanity following their respected leader chanting their motto. “Chalo Dilli!”, but her eyes were transfixed somewhere else. An all-women’s regiment was leading the procession. Wasn’t this what she was waiting for? Was it time to answer her inner calling?
Revathi’s Amma and Appa were aghast at her declaration. “There is no way, we are allowing you to join the army. It’s unheard of. Such revolutionary thoughts have no place in our household,” clarified her father. Revathi refused to relent. Her mother’s tears couldn’t dilute her resolve. “Why, tell me why you want to do this? Give me a sane reason, just one good reason,” hollered Mr. Rao.
Revathi replied with a stoic calm, “Appa, the only reason of my joining the Rani of Jhansi regiment is to become a REASON. A reason for generations to come. A reason for everyone to answer their higher calling. Girls from all strata of life too, are responsible for the security, welfare and honor of their motherland. If I don’t answer the reason of my existence, I shall cease to exist.”
With these words, walked out Lieutenant Revathi Rao, of Rani Of Jhansi regiment for a reason, too good, to halt.
Amma/Appa: mother/ father
Netaji : leader
Chalo Dilli : Let’s go to Delhi
Rani of Jhansi regiment was the world’s first all women infantry regiment, of the Indian National Army formed in July 1942 . It came into existence a couple of years after the first air raid at Upper Cross Street, Singapore, killing numerous commoners. This incident incited a revolution in south east Asia.
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