“It is dark on the new moon night and I am getting down along with my team from one of the four helicopters to set forth on our mission. The illuminating symbol of an eagle on our shoulders is radiating and our mission is to kill the militants who ambushed and killed at least a dozen civilians- three days ago.
I was one amongst the troop who set forth on an adventure that demands life as it’s the price and coincidentally, this is my first time and I am exactly like a docile lamb amidst the seniors in the troop.
To begin with, it all started a few days ago when a senior commander started recruiting freshers into assault troops. I definitely did not want to be a recruit but sometimes passing your tests pays off. Post recruitment, the first instruction I received was to not tell my family about the mission and hours later, the commander walked towards me and asked, “Why do you think I recruited you despite an average performance?”
While I stammered searching for words, the commander replied, “A soldier who sweats more in practice will bleed less in war and you are one of the few guys who is hell-bent on practice.”
The commander continued, “Most of my men are seasoned. I hope you live up to my expectations!”
I got onto one of the four helicopters and the troops were divided into four smaller groups. None of us knew how many of us would come back alive, all that matters is killing some militants on the orders received and perhaps no higher authority ever understood that killing such idiots would not get them anything than a few more attacks in retaliation.
The surprise factor gave our troops a remarkable advantage. We walked in the jungle, camouflaging, using night vision devices and approaching our targets. Even the militants were alert and as soon as our troops started firing shots, their guards also started firing ruthlessly.
I shot every militant I encountered till they died gifting them a painless death as I felt the whole mission as an act of cowardice because killing people who were sleeping and their guards who are half asleep is worse. On the contrary, I also knew that innocents were killed by these very men.
After killing a few members I suddenly turned to find myself in front of a militant’s gun. He shot me straight in my chest and never in my life did I feel the time passing so slow.
All I remember is the cute face of my three-year-old daughter, a non-complaining wife and my parents who were always proud of me. I will miss you Anu!”
As soon as the sun rose the dead were taken and the government declared nine of their soldiers died in the operation. While my family wept over my father’s grave, his last recording was hidden by the agency and within the next two days, there was another attack. In this unending cycle of attacks, innocents and soldiers die alike but peace is never an option that would be preferred.
Post Script: This is the last recording of my father Akash Patnaik during his fight in the war and it was given to my mother a few years later after the mission details were revealed and adding to it is my writing in the last paragraph of what happened the following day - Anushka Patnaik.