While the nation cries for war, what happens to the families left behind? Read a Defence kid’s perspective on coping, loss, and war, in lieu of the Pulwama violence.

When I try to recall early memories of my mother, I can remember that my mother was 27 years old when she had to single-handedly take care of one child who cried a lot, and another who ran away a lot. All this time my father, serving in the Indian Navy, was often away sailing for months. I was four when the place my father was posted in got hit by an earthquake, and my mother had to care for us while my father was away protecting other families hit by the disaster.

Despite all this, I am one of the most privileged children. While the news of the Pulwama attack enraged many, and talks about ‘revenge’ and counterattacks began, newspapers almost immediately dug out stories of their families. While Thaka Belkar was one of the lucky ones, who got out of the bus which was hit because his leave was sanctioned at the last minute, this was not the fate several others met with. Rohitash Lamba, one of the men who lost their lives, left his two-yearold behind at an age too young to understand the notions of politics and warfare. Only a year after his marriage, Major Vibhuti Shankar Dhondiyal was killed in Pulwama. Constable Kulwinder Singh, the sole child and breadwinner of his family, also did not return home. A thousand tears, forty-four families, and the love for one nation; these are stories of valour and the uniform they wear.

Being a Defence child, I have lived in the best places with the best facilities. Having seen from a young age how my father had to stay away, how he lived the same life when my grandfather, in the Indian Army, was posted in the smallest of regions, I have known that this sacrifice is incomparable to the sacrifices of many others. The Pulwama attack is devastating for the families of the martyrs who will now have to live away from them forever. Garima Abrol, the wife of Martyr squadron leader Samir Abrol of the Indian Air Force asked the nation in a post shared on Instagram- “How many more pilots have to give up their life to shake you up and make you realise there is something really wrong in the system? A pilot is not made in a day, it takes a decade of training for their souls to get moulded for the job… I need answers.”

The Pulwama attack has stirred the nation, but the politicisation of this issue for benefits to accrue in the elections is saddening. While the fingers of the families of these jawans wipe their tears, others’ only point at the ‘anti-nationalist’. We are proud to belong to Defence families. We are proud to have our parents working for the country, and love for the country holds a different meaning to us than it does to many. We demand justice. We do not demand bloodshed, and a war destructive to humanity.

Feature Image Credits: Defence Lover

Shivani Dadhwal

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