"I should have told her, I should have told her how much..." he sobbed away into silence. Those were the last words he ever spoke.
Colonel Singh was proud, as any father would be of his son who had just been accept into the Indian Army. He had a strong salute for his son's regiment as they passed by in the parade, and a smile crossed his lips when the salute was returned back, albeit no one saw the smile, it being hidden under a thick layer of neatly kept beard.
After the ceremony, he asked his son for any gift that his heart desired. Lt. Amar Singh replied "That smile on your face, I want it there forever as a gift, dad". 'So he did see it then' thought the old man, 'he's my son after all, heh'. Then he saw another young man beaming and coming towards him. "Colonel Singh" he saluted "it's so nice to meet you". 'Do i know him?' "Dad, he's my bestie Chauhan. Oh, Lt. Chauhan now!" chipped in Amar. "Oh hello Lt., Congratulations" quipped the colonel, yet as he said so, he saw his son's eye drift towards a young lady who was seemingly telling inside stories about the ceremony to her family. Soon enough, Amar said "Let's go Chau, or we'll miss the orientation. Bye Dad. See ya when I see ya". And so they went, young birds in service of the great country.
"I'm out of fucking ammo" some young buck under his command stood and shouted, before being immediately pierced through his cheeks by a stray bullet. "STAY DOWN!" shouted Captain Amar in the chaos, hoping the severely weathered rock at the cave entrance would provide some shelter from the onslaught that was nearing every second. "We're trapped, although this is not a bad place for a tomb, I'd really like to live." he heard Chau say just behind him. Amar's mind was racing, desperately searching for a tactic to distract the enemy, at least until his unit was safely away. But all his mind did was play back those horrendous memories of recent weeks.
Taliban had struck simultaneously from 2 points. One through Kargil, just like in '99 and another through a small hamlet in Gujarat. The army was already on high alert along the border yet still dispatched a few regiments to form a backup against the insurgency. What they didn't know was, the Chinese and Bangladeshi had infiltrated deep into the territory disguised as locals and their attack was sudden, swift and without mercy. The situation has escalated to a full scale war. India's reply was a counter attack, the largest military mobilisation since World War II.
"SWOOSH!" a bullet zipped past slashing his earlobe. "Cap, hold it together" he heard from a side. 'I must get my men out or we're as good as dead... but how? Ah yes, Chiki!' He swung around, grabbed Chau by his collar and roared in his ear over the noise "Is the palm radio working?" Chau replied in affirmative. "Call Chiki, air strike 1 klick East of our current position". Chau stood there for a moment, face open "Chiki?". "Yes, radio NOW soldier!' While he watched Chau fish out a small flat brick of a device from his toolkit, his thoughts again began to wander.
They both saw her at the same time, thick auburn hair on a splendidly sculpted face. There she stood, like a Goddess, in all her glory. "Air force girls are sooo hot man!" whispered Chau. 'True that!' thought Amar, but said "Hey, watch it. She'll kick your ass if she hears you". They were both in some sort of collaboration, representing the Army unit in the area whilst she was from the Air force unit. As she introduced herself to some Major, they both strained their ears. "What did she say? Chiki? Her name is Chiki?" laughed Chau. "No idiot, how can anyone's name be Chiki?" scolded Amar, realising too late that she was now just behind him. "It's not, my name is Cherika" she said and both the boys went silent. "It means, the Moon", again blank stares, "okaaay, nice meeting you guys!" she smiled effortlessly and walked past in a stiff march that suited her perfectly, while muttering "army idiots" under her breath. Both Amar and Chauhan knew they were in love, but only Chauhan said "Man, she's the one for me". Amar remained silent.
"Yes, 1 klick to the EAST of our current position... Roger... Roger that... Over and Out!" Chau looked at Amar, "It's done Cap, ETA 5 min". Amar looked over his troop, all staring at him expectantly. This was a live or die moment after all, and they all looked up to him, expecting him to tip the odds in favour of live. "Okay guys, here's the plan - in less than 5 minute, Air Sup is going to drop artillery between us and the enemy. As soon as the first bomb drops, I want everyone forming up and doubling down to South West. The sun will go down soon, march silently through the trenches and reach the outpost. Tell them we got a whole regiment to fight with come morning. Ready Ho!". Chau looked concerned, when Amar gestured, he said "We won't make it with them on our back, very high casualty risk, Cap", to which Amar replied "They won't follow you, just stay silent". "Follow you? Follow us Amar, you are coming with us too" Chau said with a desperate edge to his voice. "I'm your Captain, remember that Lt. You are to follow every command I give, no matter what". Chau looked like his heart was just wrenched from his ribs, Amar did all he could to keep a stern countenance.
The air in the cave was thick with tension, every now and then a bullet ricocheted off a far wall. Those few minutes felt like infinity when suddenly all went silent. All waited with bated breaths for something to happen, and something did happen. Like a massive earthquake, the whole cave shook. instantly followed by a thunderous sound and a hard whoosh of an F35 Jet of the Indian Air Force.
Author's Note : This is a work of fiction, so are all the events and characters within. The views and opinions expressed are entirely personal and do not reflect the official policy of any agency or government. The contents should not be utilised for analytics as they are based on out-dated and/or fictitious information.
Part 2 will be up soon continuing for the cave escape.