An army of widows and orphans! This phrase was used by a very dear friend of mine. What does that mean to you? Maybe nothing; maybe something; maybe everything, depending on where you stand. There is much more to some news than just being a news. But we, somehow conditioned by various constructs around us, have come to a point in time where it is a ‘relative’ feeling.
When feelings become ‘relative’, it is sad situation. When a person dies, he just dies. He doesn’t exist. No, existing in memory is a phrase. The memory can’t raise that kid of 18 months. The memory cannot love the wife who has suddenly lost half of her self. The memory can not touch the feet of the parents and bring smiles.
The brave face, the eyes that hold tear, is a social choice that people make. No one feels proud of a death, they are rather made to feel proud. Someone lost her father and we go all gung-ho about patriotism, sacrifice and what not. How weird it is that a whole family is destroyed and we celebrate it!
We celebrate it because that’s the only choice for us. Having no other choice doesn’t make things right. Of course we are proud of the sacrifice, because that’s the best thing we can do to honour the dead. But the best is not always the right thing.
We listen to a news of such kind and we, subconsciously, accept it. We accept the fact that someone has to die, and he did. In our patriotic songs, shares and photoshopped collages, what we often ignore is the family, the fatherless child and just a half human bearing resemblance to the wife.
Next time just think about them. I do. I also write about the martyrs and have a sense of patriotism because that’s the forced reality of the day. There is a country and there are men and women doing a job that’s courageous to the level of insanity. I accept it.
What I am unable to take is the celebration of this death. I have very close friends posted at border, I know people whose family has a frame on the bedside with a smiling soldier.
Behind that brave face and (forcefully dried eyes) lies a sad soul who doesn’t get to mourn. That half-human has a life ahead, she can just move on… Alas! That’s not an easy thing.
Then, there is a lobby or, say, ignorant individuals who just want everyone to bomb everything as if that will solve things. When we ‘become’ patriotic, we certainly forget the fact that it is not us who has that iron helmet and a rifle in the battlefield. Public euphoria can not glorify the dead and must not.
People must not die just because you tend to get patriotic. People must not die just because there are borders. People must not die just because we will erect memorials and award them medals. People must not die for India. People must not die.
What we don’t realise is the fact that there is any army of widows and orphans who none of us know about unless they are your friends or family. They move on because they have to, and not because they want to.
You can give them all benefits, all the glory, all the facilities and associate all heroism but that doesn’t do anything. Because that man is gone. That father is contained in a frame and the mother has to convince that he is out there, somewhere. That’s a terrible feeling. No one should feel it just because two nations have to fight wars.
Picture this: That widow has to stand in line to get babus do her work. The daughter/son doesn’t know how to explain the absence of her/his father at school functions. There is no family photograph anymore. In school projects and school diaries they leave the space for ‘Father’s occupation’ and ‘Official phone number’ blank.
My friend says, “We simply don’t live.”
Wiping out the other nation is a romantic imagination that we can afford to have on Facebook. Alas! There is no game called India-Pakistan Crush Saga where we could fight wars and solve things the same way that we used to raise cattle and sow maize in FarmVille.
In absence of a good option we must not endorse a bad one which is: going to war. It might give you an adrenaline rush but think of the families that will be destroyed.
Is your adrenaline worth destroying families? Can your ‘salutes to martyrs’ make any, yes any, difference to lives associated with that martyrdom?
Most of us can’t feel it because we haven’t lost our father when we were three. Don’t think about the army fighting a war, think about taking care of another army of unnatural widows and orphans. Maybe, you will get what I am insisting on.
Because, as my friend says, “Financially we are sound enough. It’s the day to day death that eats our souls. We don’t have happy homecomings, not anymore, Ajeet. Never. We had a final goodbye.”