“Everything will be all right,” I lie to myself. I do that a lot these days.
The woman who loves me more than anything else in the world holds me in her arms, caressing my cheek as her fingers make way to my torso, unbuttoning my shirt. “One last time before you go,” she whispers and smiles sadly. The lamps burn out but our passion does not. As I bid her goodbye, I see hope in her eyes. I am good at lying. My father’s eyes shine with pride. He watches me as I scurry around the house, collecting my belongings, piling them in my bag.
“When will you come back?” I see a ghost of the same hope in his eyes, prompting me to lie again. “Soon enough,” I smile. I reach the place I work at. I fondly remember calling it my ‘Karmabhoomi’ a few years ago. My co-worker looks up at me, with the same hope in his eyes. This is not something he and his newlywed had been prepared for. “Will this be over soon?” he asks nervously. “Yes,” I reply, trying to not be harsh on him for being a human.
The explosion near our camp is deafening. I run outside my tent, checking the harm done. The other Jawans do the same. It has started sooner than we had expected. Undeterred, we fight.
Two days, eight hours later, as I lie on the ground with no hope left, thirsty and hungry, waiting for either the enemies to find me or the friends to rescue what is left of me, I remember them, wondering if they know now. They would have known by the time I reached here, I make a guess. My lungs are tired, eyes weak. It’s a wonder how I have managed to live at all.
“Everything will be all right,” I lie to myself, as I wait for dear death to come