It was around midnight and I was sitting on the edge of my bed. Blood pumping and an adrenaline rush. It was time to switch off the Playstation and get back to real life. I had just taken a bath when my buddy came to wake me up. “Jai hind sahib. Aap pehle se hi uth gaye?”, he said. “Haan dost,neend hi nahi aayi.”, I said. (Yes buddy, didn’t get any sleep.) I was ready in 5 minutes, checked for all necessary equipment. Checked the comms and called the men for a briefing. We were all used to this routine. Sleeping through the day, working at night. And I love doing it. I love the feeling of the sudden adrenaline rush, the uncertainty of what is going to happen. Isn’t that the purpose of life? I checked my rifle for one last time and we started for our patrol around 0100 hours. There were around 7 of us. An officer, one JCO and the other jawans. All of us have been specially trained. We were the best amongst the best. One in a million, one among a million. We had two scouts at front, and I, the officer at number three.We would walk for hours and hours in the darkness of the night. Sometimes we’d come back with nothing. Sometimes contact would be made and we come back victorious, eliminating all anti national threats. This particular night, which I remember very well, we were supposed to climb this certain feature with ropes. All of us started climbing and were all midway when the point man broke radio silence and said “Tham!”. I signalled the rest of the troops to halt and all us stopped midway. Hanging on a rope. The point man and I saw something which the others did not. There was a small cave right in front of me and there were around 10-11 people sitting around a bonfire. I was the only person who was in the line of fire and I was ready for the consequences to follow. I held onto the rope with one hand and with the other I aimed my rifle towards the unidentified threats. A million thoughts flashed through my mind at that time. One of them included me being sent home wrapped in the tiranga. That moment seemed to last for centuries. Time went slow. The adrenaline was into work. It wasn’t the time to think, it was time to act. My life actually depended on it. I signalled the point man to hold and observe these men for suspicious activity, weapons and other instruments which could inflict casualties. We waited for quite sometime. Negative, I didn’t notice anything suspicious. My rifle still pointed towards them. My finger on the trigger. My rifle on automatic. Kill first, die last. These sentences were on a loop in my mind.
Later, it turned out to be our own men disguised as locals.
Once we were done with the op, I lay down on my bed. The weather cold outside and beads of sweat still dripping from my neck. I went into retrospect regarding the past few hours that I spent in the jungle.
What would have happened if they were not friendlies?
Would I still be here?
It was by luck that I was alive that night. That night was the night when I understood the value of life. One cannot compare anything to life. My life or anyone else’s has no price and it cannot be paid off. No matter how much the compensation is, the feeling of seeing your loved ones, your sweetheart, your kids, is immeasurable.
And then we have several well read leaders of the nation, who claim to know it all.
And people like me will always look at people like them and ignore the things that they say.
Because, we’re selfless.
Because we know, perspectives change.
Veni. Vidi. Vici.
PS: The officer from the Indian Army wishes not to be named because of security concerns.
We’re highly grateful for his service towards us and our nation.