“It is surprisingly 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 am one amongst the troop who set forth on a mission that demands life at its 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 gets you noticed. Post recruitment, the first instruction I received was to not tell my family about the mission and hours later, the commander even asked me, ‘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.’
Looking into my eyes, 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 but 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, however, gave our troops a remarkable advantage. We walked in the jungle, camouflaging, using night vision devices and approaching our targets. The militants weren’t alert but as soon as our troops started firing shots, their guards then started firing ruthlessly.
I shot every militant I encountered until they died. I intended to give them a painless death as I felt the whole mission was an act of cowardice. Killing people who were sleeping and their guards who were half asleep isn’t something I would have commanded. I agree, these men killed innocents but that still didn’t convince me of our actions.
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 tick so slow.
All I remember is the cute face of my three-year-old daughter, a loving 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 is preferred.
Postscript: This is based on the last recording of my father Akash Patnaik during his fight. This recording was given to my mother a few years later after the mission details were revealed. I’ve added a few lines in it alongside adding what happened the following day - Anushka Patnaik.