I DON’T KNOW where to start and what to say. I was only three when you left me and mama all alone to fight this frightful world and the even more frightening people in it. I don’t blame you for anything, anything at all, because you did the bravest act a man can do. You sacrificed your life protecting your country and its people. You served the nation. Isn’t that what we all dream of? But where did it leave us? I don’t remember the warmth of your hug or the boldness in your voice. I have no memories of you and me together. I see mama crying every time she thinks of you. For 19 years she has been in pain, both physically and mentally. I feel you are watching over us, and maybe you know what we have gone through.
Nineteen years is a long time and a lot of things have happened. Your death affected many people, but it took the biggest toll on mama. You were her everything, her hero, her hope, but most of all, her soulmate and her everlasting love. When you died, half of mama’s soul died with you. She was stranded in her solitude. She was harassed and deceived by vicious people who were supposed to support her and guide her. She endured more than you could have ever imagined.
Through all this, she stood tall and strong, thanks to some angels that you and God sent to protect and guide us. She faced a lot raising me, earning money and holding up the family. She is the best mother that one can dream of, she loved me, taught me very good values and all the essentials of life. I wish you could see her now; you would have been prouder of her than of yourself.
I have grown up in these 19 years—from a child fearing this ungrateful world to a man ready for every challenge. Mama never lets me feel the absence of a father by caring for me and showering her love on me but, somewhere, I feel it. Whenever I see children playing with their fathers, it doesn’t make me sad; it puts a smile on my face because I see you in all their happiness. But I miss you no matter what. I wish you were here to guide and support me and make the family complete. I feel very proud and blessed to be your son. I have never seen you, but all your actions speak louder than yourself. I have heard all your stories from every family member, and from those stories I try to learn and know you a little more. I wish I could convey all my feelings to you.
Never be sad, because we are proud of you and love you forever. I promise I will be very strong and will serve my country the way you did. I hope someday I can make you and mama proud. I hope you are at peace wherever you are. Lastly, I want to thank you for the sacrifices you made, for being my superhero but most of all for being my father.
Thank you, baba, for everything,
Soumya Ranjan Mallick, 22, is studying engineering at SOA University in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. His father, Lance Naik Sachidananda Mallick of 12 Mahar Regiment, was martyred on June 28, 1999, in Kargil.