I WAS FOUR years old when you were martyred. I only have vague memories of you. I remember you used to scold me a lot for eating mud. But I never cared enough to listen to you. Today, I wish I had. You used to call me kabuthar [pigeon]. I was your favourite child, even though Sumit was older. My mother tells me that you were a very shy person. Whenever there was a fight in the family, you would keep quiet. You only waged war in Kargil, not at home.
I remember the day you died. We had a dog in our home, and I was taking care of him. Then I saw an ambulance coming and people gathering around. My mother was crying, and I didn’t know what was happening. Everyone pointed to me and said: “That’s his son.” After two or three months, I asked ma where you were. She said you were no more. That was a horrible moment.
I was too dumb to know what to do. It was my brother who took care of me. He taught me well, papa. He taught me how to take care of things. When I see boys my age, I feel that your death has made me a lot more mature.
When I went to Kargil this year for the Kargil Vijay Diwas and saw the peaks where you fought, I got goosebumps. I had tears in my eyes when I saw Tololing, where you were martyred.
People don’t understand the pain of losing a father. They say that our lives must be so easy because the government has given us so many facilities. I want to ask them to walk in our shoes. Because no amount of money will replace a complete, happy family.
I miss you so much. When I am with a group of friends and their fathers call them and enquire about where they are, it strikes me that there is no one to call me, except ma. There are things I can’t share with ma that I could have shared with you. I have to keep it in my heart only. I cannot express it to my friends or anyone else.
Sumit resembles you a lot. He, too, is very shy. After you left us, papa, the government gave us a gas agency. Ma was not fit to run it, so she allowed her family members to take over the business. They only wanted to make money and did not take proper care of the business. But, now, Sumit has taken over, and is taking care of all the losses.
I don’t know how you died, papa. I only know that a grenade exploded near you and splinters pierced your body. I wish you were here to guide me. Sometimes I feel so confused about what to do with my life. If you could have told me what to do, I could have tried achieving that.
But, I know this.... Whatever I do, I will make you proud.
Your loving son,
Sachin Rather, 22, is preparing for his CAT in Rohtak, Haryana. His father, Naik Rajvir Singh of the 18 Grenadiers, was martyred on June 13, 1999, in Kargil.