The Kashmir conflict has been going on for over a decade, and the end is nowhere in sight. While the portly politicians on both sides of the border exploit it to garner more votes, the men on the icy heights stare death with every heartbeat…Has it all been worth the sacrifice?
Corporal Tim was dressed so trim, He thought everyone afraid of him,
But sad to say, the very next day, We had a fight and he died of fright,
And that was the end of Corporal Tim.
The poem jumped out at me from the pages of my childhood. It used to be my favourite verse, and even at that age held a kind of poignancy. And yesterday, as I re-read these lines they brought back memories of a different kind.
I remembered my playmates and friends, many of whom had joined the armed forces. They “Live By Chance”. But over the years some of have lost their “chance”. It’s their profession, we argue. But deep inside we all realize that the young men so full of “josh” that we send to defend the borders, are mere cannon fodder.
History is testimony of the fact that often the wars are not a reflection of the people’s aspirations, nor a gesture of defence and protection. They are usually a means to the end of attaining political power.
It is all very well to spout rhetoric over the “honour of our country” being at stake, and how we must fight till the “last breath” to ensure we reclaim what is “rightfully ours”. Yet, when it comes to facing the artillery fire in the battlefield, none of these ‘outraged’ politicians come forth.
The men in uniform fight for those they’ve never met. They die “uncried, unthought and unsung.” The constant low intensity war at our frontiers has taken a toll on so many young lives. So many bright faces snuffed out in the dirt of the battlefield. All for naught. The cause they gave their lives for has been drowned in the artillery’s shelling and Delhi’s sonorous speeches. They fought for peace, and the end to the conflict seems nowhere in sight.
The tears have dried and the heart has stoned itself against showing emotion. Each dusk is a day added to the life of the people guarding the icy heights. Each dusk is a testament of the greedy luxury in which the portly ‘political authority’ basks.
“But outside in the battlefield Where golden dreams turn gray,
How very young the faces were, Where all the dead men lay.”