Regret or Proud?
Far away from the loud horns and beeps of hustling and bustling engines on the road, we love to enjoy the buzzing of glow-worms and amazing calmness in the air. Under the silvery shades of moonlight shower, walking with my love barefooted, feeling the velvety cool grass beneath, I cherish these moments. Her sparkling seductive intense gaze, perfect shape lips, long hairs resting on her shoulders and her sweet innocent childish smile used to paralyze me. I could feel a strange ‘magic’ around her. Distracting me from her admirations, she said in a saddened voice-“Honey, I will be leaving tomorrow”. Hearing and realizing our separation again for months, my world becomes upside down. I anxiously whispered-“Is it so compulsory for tomorrow, Ana?” She replied while giving are-you-mad looks, “Ofcourse love, it is not my private job”. “I am not working only for us. I work for my country, serving my people. That’s what I’ve dreamt and desired for as always. I aspired to fly high and see what I have become, A FIGHTER PLANE PILOT “, she said enthusiastically in one breath all with her glittering intoxicating eyes. She beamed with joy. Her beauty hypnotizes me, almost pierces my heart. I nod in pride, placing my hand around her waist, pulling her closer and whisper in her ears- “I love you”. Energetically she reciprocates, hugging me tight, curving her arms around my neck almost choking my throat then framing her lips to say something but abruptly a strange harsh voice interrupted us-“Tejas, Wake up! Watch the time! Are you taking a leave for today? ” Opening my eyes in shock and bewilderment, I found myself wrapped in a bed-sheet. I glanced around, trying to absorb my whereabouts. Color has been drained from my face, wet with tears and sweat, heart was hammering loudly against my ribs like a plastic rubber band and I was trembling from head to foot. All of a sudden, adrenaline rushes making me realize that it is exactly the same DREAM I used to see frequently!
Checking the hands of the wall-clock, knowing that I am already late for my job but still uprooted at the spot. Usually, my heart used to be heavy like everyday but weight of this dream is just unbearable. Tears flooded over my cheeks when nostalgia hits me hard. Exact this dream happened in ‘reality’ last year. Exact those situations, that calmness in the air and our conversation I still remember it so clearly as if it has happened just yesterday.
I tried to recollect all the memories of my wife, Ana. She’s a perfect statue of bravery, patriotism, modesty and kindness. But patriotism was pre-dominantly absorbed in her blood, like by-default. I remember that night when we had a fight regarding her joining Indian Air Force.
Me: Why do you want to work if I am working for our living, Ana?
Ana: What do you mean “if I am working for our living” ? I too want to work, not for our living but other’s living too!
Me: (Confused) Hold on! “Other’s living too” means?
Ana: Tejas, I want to join Indian Air Force. I want to become a Pilot Officer. Want to realize my dream in real.
Me: (Astonished) Joining Indian Air Force! Where’s the point of joining Air Force, Ana? It is the highest risky profession. I can’t let you go away from me.
Ana: Tejas, please. I want to serve our nation. I agree that it is damn risky profession but protecting my people from parasites or terrorists and sergving in an emergency situation is my spirit’s intention to live. In my entire life, this is what I have dreamt about, about paying my tribute to our martyrs. I want to fly high, very high, across this sky. You know what, strange electric current flows within me whenever I see our hoisted National flag. It is not a tattered piece of silk cloth, Tejas. It is a symbolic meaning of our freedom and pride, symbol of the sacrifice our martyrs gave and sovereignty of the nation. It’s not the money I want to work for. Can I be a bit selfish for not focusing only on us but rather on the nation, Tejas? Please?
After hearing all this, I baffled. Baffled about what’s she saying? Did she mean about joining Air Force to achieve her dream? Or finding an excuse to leave me somewhere very far? I don’t know what to say. Should I regard her respect towards our nation or just become selfish and deny her proposal? How can I approve her even after knowing that the last stage of this profession is Death! O My wife! My Ana! My Lovely Ana! Thoughts started scrambling up in my mind, haphazardly. (Ana was inspecting deeply my eyes, trying to make out the decision I would say.)
I glanced at her for a minute and for the first time, I saw a strange unusual spark in her eyes I have ever seen. Holding my breath, I sighed and with my heavy heart a word was outspoken, “Yes”.
Ana: O baby! You are the best hubby in the world. Very caring and understanding about my dreams without being selfless. I am proud of myself for choosing YOU as my life partner, my love. I love you! She beamed and hugged me so tightly, almost cracking my rib cage.
That morning I couldn’t stop myself from crying when she left for joining with all her shine. We both were living happily thereafter. She used to come twice in 6 months but those precious moments we live at our fullest. Life was going silky and smooth like butter. I was engaged in my private job while Ana was having training for flying a fighter plane. Whoa! My beautiful wife is handling such a dangerous heavy responsibility with pride. Life was drifting smoothly until one day when I was tired after the day’s hardwork, sipping a hot coffee and switched the TV on for gaining highlights of the country. It was like someone has casted an evil eye on our relation.
Breaking News on every news channel was flashing on the screen,
“Disturbances on LOC border! Red Alert for WAR!”
I was watching with an icy surge of terror when another flashing headline appeared,
“Fighter plane pilot, Ana Kaul flying ‘Mikoyan MiG-29’ sacrificed her life after smashing 5 Pakistan’s fighter planes, Thunder in air-in-air attack.”
A feel of horror was rising like bile in my throat and everything around became still that I could hear only the loud violent rhythms of my heart. My world stopped spinning. I became pale and colorless in such sudden shock. An electric current seemed to course through me and I stood rooted to the spot with my bulging unbelievable eyes fixing on TV screen. It was like either I’d lost my mind or this news channel was joking. I couldn’t believe it! O My wife! My Ana! My Lovely Ana! Now I will never be able to see her childish smile, glittering eyes and her playful actions again. My eyes shocked in terror, mouth dried. I yelled blowing all the air out of my lungs but couldn’t hear my own words. O My wife! My Ana! My Lovely Ana!
Though she died but a piece of me died along with her, too. A year has been passed after her glorious death, but still this question clouds my mind. Regret or Proud? Should I REGRET or PROUD of my decision about making her join Air Force? No. I am firm of my decision. No regret! I made the best and perfect decision in my life. After all, this’s what she desired for. Her dream about serving the martyrs’ visions and nation till her last breath. And see, she actually succeeded as a prideful death. Ana always says while giggling –
“Babu Mushoy, Zindagi badi honi chahiye! Lambi nahin! (Life must be large! Not long!) C’mmon Tejas, I
don’t want to die before dying.”
Eyeing her beautiful photograph hanging on the wall, I said, “I am proud of you Ana. You are my hero and will always be.” I realize now that soldiers guarding the borders in every extreme situation are not the angels sent by god but infact, they are just like us having their beloved families. But their brave heart with selflessness, patriotism and determination for maintaining peace and harmony in the country make us differ from them. These are the only selfless people on earth who unconditionally love their country. And I can proudly say that my wife, Ana was one of them.
I stood, dashed tears from my eyes, wiped my nose with the back of my hand and made my way straight to the kitchen for helping my mum in getting kitchen chores done.