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War Survivor (3rd Prize, Category 2)

April, 2014
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This story is dedicated to my grandfather who spent 30 years in the service of the Indian Army

One cold rainy evening, I was searching for my Army identity card in my white chest of drawers. My hand clasped something cold and metallic. I stared at the circular object shining in the dim light. It was my medal of courage.  As I held it up, memories came flooding back to me…

******

After a long march, we reached the place where we were supposed to be stationed. The sunlight was glinting on the green grass making it shimmer like emeralds. The mountains were so high that their peaks were swirled in fog. One mountain called Mount Saramati was 3,826 meters high. It was a towering brown peak, with heaps of snow on top. Today was such a beautiful day in Nagaland, not the type of day for slaughter.

I stared into the distance. The soldiers should be here by now. “Where are they?” I asked.

“They’re coming,” the field marshal whispered, “Now keep it down and get your group organized. The insurgents could be hiding.”

My hands started to shake from the news. My palms were getting sweatier by the minute. My green army printed uniform was getting clingy. What was making me scared? I had been trained to fight in this war and had learned the tactics of Guerilla warfare. The Guerilla warfare tactics included how to hide, move and shoot in small groups. I had been in charge of scores of soldiers and had fought in the army for many years. The other people should be more scared than I. The lieutenant and the second lieutenant must be frightened of being shot.  Maybe even the captain. All of them have not had as much as experience as I. 

Come on,” one of my lieutenants whispered impatiently, “How long does it take the enemy to get here?”

My soldiers started to nod at the lieutenant that spoke. As tempting as it was to have a conversation, I did not. “Quiet down soldiers,” I barked, “I can hear something; the war has started. Be silent and get in your positions now. Go, go, go!”

Some of the soldiers exchanged worried glances with each other, their foreheads beaded with wrinkles. Other soldiers traded puzzled looks, their brown eyes and furrowed black brows making their stress evident. Every soldier had a green cap and an army symbol on their hat. Their black hair was cut short in a crew cut. All the soldiers had army printed uniforms; one color was dark green and the other was light green. They all wore dark brown or black leather combat boots that were easy to move in. I looked at the formation of the whole troop. I saw a group of soldiers all in different shooting positions 

The soldiers towards the back were the lower ranks like the lieutenants and some of the captains. The higher-ranking officers like the majors, colonels and brigadiers were towards the front. Other soldiers were lying flat on the ground using bayonets and they were the ones under cover. The soldiers who were at the very front of the troops were the field marshals and the generals, the most experienced soldiers. For these veteran field marshals and generals, this was probably just a regular drill, I thought. I bet they aren’t even scared of the enemy.  

In this time of extreme tension, a thought flashed through my mind. What did the insurgents really do that was wrong? Then it came to me, the insurgents were terrorists who wanted to take over the Government and rule Nagaland. Cold beads of sweat dripped down my forehead like a waterfall, making me shiver at the thought of the insurgents taking over. I had to stop them. That is what I was here for, I had to be proud and fight for my country so that my future wife and children would not have to live in danger. They could live in a calm, peaceful land instead. That is why the army, navy and air force were brought here. We were here to fight…

******

The clattering of the pots and pans in the kitchen downstairs brought me out of my reverie. I fingered my medal of courage and thought of the soldiers who had sacrificed their lives in service to our country. I was relieved that the insurgency had come to an end. At last, peace had now prevailed in Nagaland.

By Nikki Dutt,

12 years, Shanghai American School

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