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Just Saying

Just Saying

Thursday, 11 February 2016

'SNOW BURIED PROMISES' A tribute to the martyrs of Siachen Avalanche.

More than anything else, the promise was to come back.
But up there, the mountains had different plans. They moved, as the unforgivable snow came sweeping down the terrain in threatening waves, shrouding the brave lives with a cold jacket of death. However, they stayed just like that – meeting death in its eye below the frozen earth; crushed by the snow; blood slowly ceasing in their limbs, as life kept company of their mangled bodies, no better than that last leaf on a withered tree in storm. It was waiting, fighting and trying to live, even when death had long owned them. And I am sure it was nothing, absolutely nothing but their lonely will to survive, the power of the prayers their loved one’s muttered in devotion through every single day of their being away on the frozen mountains, purchasing peace with life and those promises above all, that kept dragging their gritty heart to its next possible thump.

The name itself rose terror – Siachen Glacier. 20,000 feet above earth, lost in snow, right up at the Line of Control between Indian and Pakistan, along the eastern Karakoram Range of the great Himalayas. A place where life is not programmed to survive and hence, any existence there in a temperature of -60, with the hopeless sky almost falling upon the icy blue mountains, came at the very mercy of death.

No sooner than the news of an Avalanche rocking Siachen was sent out, rescue teams, provided with every life supporting amenities were flown in to the land of devastation – deployed with the seemingly impossible task of recovering those trapped, fighting souls from under the enormous covering of concrete snow. As electronic saws and drills rattled the glacier, the Jawans united by the mad compassion of rescuing their fellow mates, it was only the frozen, lifelessness that, one after another, started to reach up their searching hands in the sea of cold.

Death had almost won and the promises all looked untrue; till on the sixth day, thirty feet in snow, life was found feebly pulsating in frozen veins. Military aircraft had then flown through blinding mist and that miracle survivor, Lance Naik Hanaman Thappa, was airlifted to RR Hospital in Delhi. What looked a futile search, a failed rescue operation till then, cutting through acres of ice round the clock atop one of the highest place in the world and finding brave heart Thappa down there, had suddenly brought the nation together in a sudden burst of joy. Not only was his extraction from 30 feet beneath the snow a magical, unbelievable effort by the rescue team, but also his being alive and the hopes for his survival, were just starting to be the much needed aid to the deep sadness of the death of all the other soldiers.

But at last death won. The iron soul succumbed. And sadness, like a pregnant wave, came rushing all the way from the mountains and closed upon the country in tears and shattered hopes. The blood, perhaps, had long became ice in his veins, but Naik’s heart continued to walk that extra mile. The bones sure had contracted to the point of crumbling, but the skin never fell off. And what really makes this possible, what really adds those extra hours to your existence when death had owned you, is nothing but the power love.

....If only love could breathe life back to the promises that all broke and died upon the mountains in snow. All the promise to be back home. To the familiar air of his village. To the moments of sitting together at meals with your loved ones. And to the playful trotting horse he became every time, Netra, his 2 year old daughter, propped up on his back.

© Sobhan Pramanik

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