IT HAS BEEN almost 19 years since 1999. My love and admiration for you only grows day by day, for no matter how many years go by, some things just don’t change. My first essay in my school magazine was titled “My daddy, my hero”, and after so many years, the story and book I decided to come out with was about Our Babloo—the Hero of Drass. How honoured I am that my father isn’t just my hero, but an inspiration and role model to so many defence aspirants and enthusiasts. Every child in this world resembles either one of her parents, and I see people get overwhelmed when they find the face of such a brave and great leader in me. That makes me extremely proud and constantly reminds me of the responsibility I have.
Our family hasn’t changed one bit; patriotic songs are still sung together enthusiastically on this new karaoke mike we bought. People haven’t really changed much. They still misunderstand our soldiers to be people who love war. They don’t realise that soldiers hate it the most because the kind of pain and guilt they carry cannot be expressed; it can only be experienced. However, the essence of dharma, and especially the dharma of a yodha [warrior], can be understood by some and a few of them make it to wearing the uniform, ready to look death in the eye every day to protect us.
I fail to understand why, as Indians, we are not taught about the wars that we fought after we became a sovereign republic. Has time and history stopped the second we became a free nation?
I promise you that I will give my best to ensure I tell people about the great sacrifices of young, brave men like you; the achievements and hardships of the Indian Army; and the pain and importance of a supportive family that truly gives a soldier his strength and allows him to dedicate his life in the service of the nation. I am not saying I am an extremely responsible person, but being your daughter, I understand my responsibility and will strive to make my mark and make the family proud like you did.
Don’t worry, daddy, just as you said, I have grown up reading and believing in the Bhagavad Gita. My love for animals and reading reiterate the fact that a part of you is in me. As time passes, actions shall speak louder than words. I will not be one of those people who complains about problems without attempting to solve them. And hopefully, in the future, I shall follow in your footsteps and feel you smile with pride when those stars are pinned on my shoulder and I start my journey as an officer from the same place you did.
Loads of love,
Aparajita Acharya, 18, is a second year student of Symbiosis Law College, Hyderabad. Her father, Major Padmapani Acharya of 2 Rajputana Rifles, a Mahavir Chakra awardee, was martyred in Kargil on June 28, 1999.