Do you know where soldiers come from?

Passionate warcries to cover up a brother’s death.
In his blood do I see the face of enemy.
But in his face, I see myself - my failure.

He was not a soldier, an intellectual that he was.
He read, he debated.
The entire campus watched him speak.
Ah, the charisma!
The erudite scrutiny of a flawed national budget.
His concern for the wretched slumdog.
Of women raped in broad daylight.

Do you know where soldiers come from?
A mother’s womb; A father’s care.

When I resigned to my books, I saw him drinking under the peepal tree.
While I wrote in the mornings, I saw him take his audiobook to marathon.
I tried to theorize the underpinnings of a fractured society;
He would walk in the streets, comforting the remnants of a communal flare up.

Do you know why top B-schools hire soldiers?
Because they are humans. And in their humanity, they see viscerally.
With every pulse, he felt the pangs of a groaning nation.
His service was no charity. His decisions rational. He chose this path, he held no fetish to die.

He didn’t run towards the enemy under neurotic convulsion.
Your cheap thrill military flicks insult his intellect, but you’re okay with it.

Do you know where soldiers come from?
A mother’s womb; A father’s care.

He despised the weaponization of education.
Of handing down hierarchies right from school.
The best for science and humanities collecting the leftovers?
Education as a process of pure joy, not of spooky warlike exams.
Oh, how he mocked the myopic exam warriors,
-manufactured under the patriotic label of shallow, instant educators!

A soldier with an acute sense of social justice.
Not of pathological hatred giving away twitter rants.
Do you even know him when you are vowing to avenge him?

You can’t avenge him, because he was a human who understood war.
If you don’t go into it, how do you reform it? He asked me the night we parted.
I had no answer, my endless writings take years to effect,
While he put Kashmiri kids in school and restored dignity of their mothers.
Guess, he was more effective. But he’s no more.
Killed by the sheer apathy of a snowy night that covers victims and killers alike.

He protested haughty officers who tied boys to military jeeps.
He sent food to hungry artisans at the height of chilly winters.
Tongue, but not the butt of bayonet that my brother used to talk.
Military truck carrying apple carts for farmers in distress.
He was building this nation too - without tirades and tridents.

Angry kids used by someone to man IED laden trucks.
Trucks that run through highways under big brother’s gaze.
Still the bus was obliterated, his limbs strewn around.
But my brother is much more than a piece of meat;
For which you may create more mangled limbs across the border.
But it is to his soul that you have failed. To his glowing intellect.
To his desire to serve and better the lives of his brethren.

If there is some heaven out there, he’d be chuckling at your ineptitude.
This petty minds of yours where he’s an inane killer,
A lamb, always at haste to sacrifice himself at a moment’s notice.
No, a soldier is much more than that.
And you’ll perhaps never understand.

Do you know where soldiers come from?

I teach algebra to his kids.
I recite wordsworth while putting them to sleep;
I make them read Proust.
I invoke the wisdom of Nehru;
Sagacity of Gandhi; the spirit of an intrepid Subhas.
I sing Khusru to placate them.
Preach Asoka to mollify their fights;
Of Akbar to see the god.
Of Mohan Roy to approach the books.
All the giants on whose shoulders their father stood.
And that father who didn’t fire pellet guns from that pulpit.

Yes, a soldier is dead.
But you will never know him enough to avenge him.
And please, don’t drag him down to your intellect so callow.

And I should ask once more!

Do you know where soldiers come from?
A Mother’s womb; A father’s care.
Do you know where they go when they die?
Neurotic glass cages in your petty minds.
And that is the real tragedy.

Written on February 15, 2019