The man was struck in amazement, like a child. ?You design and code such things.?
?I used to, But now I am the project manager,? he clarified.
?Oh! So, your life is easy now.?
It was like being told that fire was better than the frying pan. ?Does life ever get easy as you go up the ladder? Responsibility only brings more work. Design and coding is the easier part. I am now responsible, that is far more stressful. There is the customer, changing requirements and the boss expecting you to finish all work yesterday.?
What he stated was the truth.
?My friend, you don'tknow what it is to be in the line of fire.? The man sat back. When he spoke, it was with composure, ?I know sir, what it is to be in the line of fire.? There were 30 of us. We were to capture Point 4875 in the night. The enemy was firing from the top. There was no knowing where the next bullet was from and meant for whom. In the morning, when we finally hoisted the tricolor at the top, only four of us were alive.?
?You are a…??
?I am Subedar Sushant Singh from 13 J&K Rifles in Kargil. They tell me I have completed my term. But, tell me, sir, can one give up duty just because it makes life easier? On the dawn of that capture one of my colleagues lay injured in the snow, open to enemy fire. It was my job to take him to safety. But my captain refused to grant permission. He said that the first pledge he had taken as a gentleman cadet was to put the safety and welfare of the nation prior to the safety and welfare of the men he commanded. His own personal safety came last, always and every time. He was killed as he shielded that soldier. Every morning I can see him facing all those bullets that were really meant for me. I know, sir, I know what it is to be in the line of fire.?
Vivek looked in disbelief. Abruptly he switched off the laptop. It seemed trivial, to edit a word document in the presence of a man for whom valour was a part of life; valour and duty belonged only to epical heroes.
The train slowed down into the station and Subedar Sushant Singh picked up his bags. ?It was nice meeting you sir,? he stretched out his hand to wish goodbye.
Vivek fumbled with the handshake. This was the hand that had climbed mountains, pressed the trigger and hoisted the tricolour. Suddenly he stood at attention and his right hand went up in a salute.
It was the least he could do for the country. The capture of Peak 4875 is a true incident of the Kargil war. Major Vikram Batra sacrificed his life for the men he commanded. For this and other acts of bravery he was posthumously awarded the Param Vir Chakra? the highest award for military service.