I said a prayer for the Armed Forces for the first time

Last night, for the first time, I included my brothers in armed forces in my prayers and it was a great feeling. I felt at peace. I usually pray only for my family in spite of believing in Sarve jana sukhino bhavantu. But, last night I took a few seconds more and said a prayer for the brave hearts who put their lives on the line for me and my family. It felt, in its own insignificant way that I am a part of nation-building as well and not merely a tax-prayer.

The prayer I said was simple. I asked Lord Hanuman to ensure that my brothers who are guarding the border stay safe. It’s not that I was ungrateful earlier. I am fully aware of the humongous efforts and sacrifices put in my brothers. The problem is that I was insensible. What is out of sight is out of mind. I forgot that there is a person at the border risking his life for mine. I don’t know why he does that though. My life is no more valuable than his. And, if he can be that magnanimous, I can be unselfish as well.

When I read of the terror attack on Pulwama, I was enraged, outraged and you name it, I felt it. But, I know the anger I am feeling will dissipate sooner or later and I will get back to my life. But, my jawans, they can do no such thing. That is their life. They have to shoulder our responsibility. And, being responsible is burdensome. Ask an elder sibling and s/he’ll tell you. They need to stay vigilant. And, being vigilant is exhausting. Ask a parent and they’ll tell you. They need to be ready. And, it is physically and mentally straining. You can’t ask anybody about this. You need to ask a jawan.

Just as children are taught to water plants so they know the value of trees, we too should be pen-pals with the jawans so we know they too are a living entity with families and aspirations. This would humanize them, this would sensitize us towards their trials and tribulations, so they don’t just remain a topic we broach with righteous outrage and catchy hashtags when something untoward happens to them only to forget them later.

I cannot be on the border with my brothers but I will continue to do my udutha sahayam (squirrel’s help) by saying a prayer tonight.

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