“It all started with the Kargil War. In 1999, Anupam, my son was in school. And at that tender age he got fascinated with Indian Army’s spectacular triumph. For couple of months the war had engulfed his life. At the same time, I remember, he was also reading Su.Ga.Shevade’s ‘1971 Che Abhimanyu’, a book dedicated to the war heroes. He used to read that book all the time. I don’t know how many revisions he did but I always saw it under his pillow.
“I feel, it was at that point his life took a definite shape.
When he went to Ruia College, he joined NCC… you can say he threw himself into it. No wonder he got rewarded as the best cadet. But his hunger for adventure was not going get satiated by that. So, he decided to join B.Sc. Nautical Science, as he felt it was more exciting. His father and I thought he’ll now get attracted to Merchant Navy and forget Army. But we were wrong. My son was very clear about joining the Army. In spite of the fact that Merchant Navy pays much better than Army ever does. One of his professors even tried to change his mind by telling him he is choosing hardship over great perks. But Anupam had made up his mind. Not once do we remember him saying ‘What should I do as a career?’ he was always so clear that he wanted to become a soldier.
Soon, an extremely proud moment came in our lives at the ‘pipping ceremony’ at Indian Military Academy, Dehradun. We had to adorn his shoulders with stars… and we did that with tears in our eyes, just like all parents present there. Finally, our son was ready to serve the country.
Coincidently, his first ever posting was in Kargil.
No one in this world knows you better than your mother. As a mother I have seen my son changing. Army training changed him as a person. It did not only make him physically tough but it also made him mentally strong. He became sensible, calmer. He learnt the art of convincing others without losing his temper. Today, with his company of 60 soldiers, he is posted in Nagaland. We all know how troubled that region is, and to be able to perform well he has to maintain good relations with the local villagers. Even Army can’t operate effectively without the local support. At the same time, his jawans also go through a very tough life. For months together they don’t get to see their families. So along with the locals he has to manage his own ‘company’, keep them motivated and at times even counsel them. That’s when his training at the academy comes into play.
We see him only twice a year. But there’s no guarantee that he will be with us on occasions such as… say Diwali. Whenever he comes is our festival, that’s Diwali to us.
Every time he goes for a search operation, which is usually at some midnight hour, we worry about his safety. As parents it is but natural I guess. We are always painfully aware that if he is carrying AK47, the other person is also carrying the same weapon. We keep praying to god. What else can we do? When he returns, he calls and tells us he is safe. Then we relax… but only till the time he goes out again. The concern for our son’s safety always looms over our heads. But not once do we feel that he should have chosen a safe, comfortable civil life. Because the pride that we feel for him is much larger than the fear.
I would like to tell other parents that if your son wants to join the force, please encourage him. I would also like to urge all young girls, who usually want to marry men in comfortable jobs with good perks that they should keep an open mind about Army officers. After all, even urban life is not without dangers, isn’t it?”