This was an interaction I was dreading. It was years ago, but I could gather strength to write about it only now. It was a counselling session held for the mothers of fallen soldiers. But I had questions in my mind—how can you counsel a mother who has lost her child? No amount of sympathy, soothing words or gestures can ease her pain. Her sorrow is something she will have to endure all through her life....Nevertheless, I went.
Too many of our soldiers are losing their lives, even when there is no war. Should these mothers send their children into the forces at all? After all, once the noise around these outrageous killings dies and the attention of the government, the media and society fades away, all that remains is a deep, never healing wound for a mother.
I am supposed talk about my son's heroism and motivate other mothers to send their sons, while my heart screams—no! Never do that! Keep your sons close to you. Rama Devi
For her, it's a void, a vacuum, which no amount of compensation can ever fill. It is an absence which will never feel right. You support their going into the armed forces for making this world a better place, you keep shoving the fear and anxiety aside, that awful feeling in the stomach that keeps telling you to call them back. Call back the man of justice, honour and courage that you very carefully grew him up to be. The heart is wrenched with the mere thought of any harm to him. And then one dreadful day you receive the news of his martyrdom...
Yet, a soldier's mother's grief is expected to be hidden and contained, her pain and loss masked with talk of lofty ideals. Says Rama Devi, who lost her son in counter-insurgency operations in J&K, "I am supposed to convert my grief into a matter of pride, talk about my son's heroism and motivate other mothers to send their sons, while my heart screams—no! Never do that! Keep your sons close to you, keep them safe!"
It is so difficult to talk about his death even after so many years... I have not slept properly since that day. Surinder Kaur
Surinder Kaur, reminisces," Jagbir was my only son, he wanted to serve in the army like his father. There were festivities in our village when the news of his selection came. I was anxious but proud to see him fulfill his mission of following his father's footsteps. But it is so difficult to talk about his death even after so many years. It is the first thing I think of when I wake up and it is the last thing I think of when I go to sleep, which is so rare. I have not slept properly since that day."
While I was speaking to these two ladies, an old lady sat beside me and said, "You want to hug them, hold them close to your heart, protect them. You think of the last time you saw them and how strongly you wanted to stop them from going...ma ka dil. But the country and his duty towards his motherland always comes first and you let them go, go forever."
I was unable to interact with others. I couldn't control the shivers, the tears rolling down my face or that terrible sob caught in my throat.
I hope someday, one day, we are able to make this world a better place for these brave sons and their mothers! Jai Hind.