It was a Thursday. And for the first half hour almost everything about it was normal. After it, in a split second, the time it takes you to read one full sentence, the day changed forever. And not just the day but the perspective, attitude and thinking of a nation changed.
For eleven days before that Thursday, I had been blocking a news. The hurt too deep and the resentment so strong that denial had kicked in. From Kargil War to JNU, from Pathankot to Pampore, over the time, blocking news had just become a habit. Ideologies were long locked away. It shouldn’t have hurt.
The truth is it always did.
Eleven days after our 19 brave hearts were martyred in Uri, The Indian Army Special Forces crossed the Line of Control. We would call it Surgical Strikes. India would remember it forever.
It was probably just another day at work in the mind of Indian Army. Another Op, a hard one yes, but not the final. But for a nation, it was a paradigm shift from whatever was meant to be the corner stones of it’s perspective. The Rubicon was crossed, the psychological advantage taken. Condemnation had given way to aggression.
In our minds, India had become a strong country. Our morale so high, you could identify an Indian on a local train from the spark in their eyes. The regular ‘elevator nods’ now had hidden fist pumps. Pride was touchable. You could call it the goosebumps of a true blue civilian. But then the perspective of a nation lives in the attitude of its people. We are docile or aggressive by thought, victim or hunter by choice. The spirit of India that had been long chained to its own outdated graciousness was unleashed.
We had arrived, on the other side of the line.
We had done it. It was as much difficult to do it, as much it was to say that we did it. We had successfully done both. I remember blitzing through the news with surging panic until the final line said ‘no casualties to own side’.
Then I sat down to read about Kargil. About the heroes who went there to fight the enemy, who not only was at a higher altitude, but had been gifted the psychological advantage that India wouldn’t cross the Line of Control.
I searched for news bites about Uri, about Pathankot, about Pampore about the many raw cuts and wounds in the heart of India. Revenge has a great power. It makes you immune to pain. It makes healing a possible thought. It makes you want to do it more often. And in rare times, it brings purpose to life.
Terror attacks wouldn’t stop. Our soldiers would still embrace Martyrdom. But we had become and would remain a strong nation. The nation had morally and emotionally assembled behind it’s Army. We were in it together. Show us the path and we would walk the fire. I am positive that it truly was one of the greatest moments you could live through as an Indian.
I remember talking to a veteran many months later about a certain date And a “when?” was answered with “Five days after Surgical Strikes”. The date had to be remembered. It would be blasphemy to forget.
And remember we did. Remember we will always do.
It was on September 29th 2016 that we crossed the line.