How can he describe his emotion?Pride writ large on his face. His son accomplished the goal. The result has been declared. His son went to the town. Only fifteen minutes before he returned, panting. He announced from the street: ''Papa, I have been selected. I am joining NDA''.
Rahmat Ali never imagined that his motherless young child Salamat could clear the NDA. How could he? Without electricity and amidst continuous violence, Salamat achieved his goal. He was going to join NDA. Rahmat, who was earlier in the employment of the erstwhile Dogra rulers of the state, felt elated.
The villagers came to Rahmat's house. Their greetings were too formal. Some of them were genuinely happy, but they could not express their happiness due to some genuine fear. Others were not so happy.
(Three years later…………)
Rahmat received a call from Salamat. Salamat stated that he got his commission and before joining his duty, he wanted to meet his father. But he could not come to the village. He asked Rahmat to visit the shikara named ''Hussain-Darya'' at Dal Lake. Rahmat was astonished but nevertheless went there.
Rahmat reached Dal Lake and found the shikara. Although he had visited Dal Lake many a time, but this was the first time he was going to stay in a shikara. He went inside and was immediately hugged by his 21 year-old son, Lt. Salamat Ali.
The next three days in the Dal Lake went past like sweet dream. On the day of return, Salamat told his father that he could not get any of the three main branches, viz., Infantry, Artillery or Armoured Regiment. Instead, he was assigned Military Intelligence (MI) and was crossing over to PoK on his first assignment.
Another two years passed. Rahmat used to get information about his son occasionally. However, on an eventful night, he received a message from his son. Salamat requested him to guide a company of soldiers from 15 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) near a gorge.
How could Rahmat decline? He was always ready to help the Army. On the day, he guided the company near the gorge. Rahmat noticed a group of terrorists crossing the line. RR soldiers waited silently and allowed the group to cross. They surrounded the group and with a single warning, started firing. Almost everyone in the group died instantly.
Suddenly Rahmat started running towards a body. The company commander was astonished and followed Rahmat. In the dark night, he heard Rahmat saying: ''INNALILAHI WA INNA ILAYHI RAJIOON''("To Allah We Belong and To Him We Will Return"). The company commander understood with horror that Rahmat's son Salamat was acting as the guide of the group of terrorists, but he lost his life in the cross-fire.
On the Republic Day, Rahmat is waiting below the podium to receive the gallantry award on behalf of his martyred son. He cannot recognize his own emotion. Is it grief or pride?
He receives the award from the President and mutters silently: 'Thanks'.
(Competition entry for Place the words, write a story, win a prize!)