Everyone works for profit. So do I. But it was always not so. Many years ago, I lived for a cause, as many of my friends still do. I walked over land so forbidden that people called me mad. I endured loneliness to such an extent that any other human would have become insane. I lived in weather so extreme that my thoughts froze, my mind melted. I overcame such hardships so as to make me immune to pain. Words like honor, integrity, fealty to an oath, fellowship and camaraderie were cornerstones of philosophies and ways to lead lives.
I often stood in harm’s way, so that my countrymen could sleep peacefully. For better or for worse, I did so unflinchingly. Day after day, I put my country above my family and myself. No one asked this of me, mind you. It was done because of a code of honor, which I had promised to abide by.
It is a different world today. I have almost forgotten that I once bled. That I fought for a cause higher than a salary slip. That I led men who followed me, as I unflinchingly followed my leaders.
So I sit behind my desk and tell stories. I see people bleeding for money, destroying their very homes that I had once pledged to protect. I see people going blind with greed, and turning savage with ambition; people who equate patriotism with a day-night cricket match.
Some think it is acceptable to call for the breaking up of this nation. They eulogize a terrorist, wearing his face on their clothes; a protest against the very existence of India.
They want to know why I would gladly die for a flag. Puzzled, I ask them why they wont.
Sometimes I tell them about the men who walked with me, the sweet victories and the bitter taste of defeat, the bile rising in my throat out of naked fear, the blood and gore and the smell of a dead body on the third day. They look at me incredulously and want to know how much I was paid to do what I did. I have no answer.
And then my mind goes back to the icy and arid wastes, which were once my playground, and I ask my heart, would you do this all over again?
My heart whispers back…YES.
I would do it over and over again, for there is no greater honor than to serve your motherland.
Major Gaurav Arya (Veteran)