This post is a part of 24-day Marathon fiction called Yaariyan. To read from the beginning, click here.
Arpit paced to catch up with his gang; walking on the narrow routes on his descend towards the Army Camp. He could listen to voices around the corner; as he walked closer, the shrills became louder and clearer. Ruhi had twisted her leg in her attempt to click a photograph of the marmot, a giant Indian Himalayan Squirrel. She was more unhappy with her unsuccessful attempt to get the click rather than her twisted leg. Arpit couldn’t help but admire her attitude and enthusiasm.
They had to take a break so that Ruhi could rest for some time. Ruhi suggested some poses to them so that she could utilise the time to click pics and divert her mind from the pain. The gang happily agreed to do the same. They did some normal poses, which were followed by the ones where they jumped and even kicked in the air. Divyah got some solo pics clicked for her Facebook profile picture.
Arpit and Madhu supported her as she got up and they began the descent. Ruhi felt ashamed for having to seek help. Arpit talked her out of it. As they walked ahead further, they could see two huts and smoke coming out of them. It must be the Army kitchen. The Army Camp couldn’t be seen yet. There was a sharp descent down the mountain from that point. They progressed ahead singing various songs, rushing with happiness on realising the camp is nearby.
They reached the Army Camp by 5.30 PM in the evening; tired, exhausted and drained! Vivian was waiting for them, anxious about their whereabouts. Had they not reached in another fifteen minutes, he would have come looking out for them. A jawan approached them and offered Ruhi hot water to dip her leg in – his smile was one of the most welcoming one she had ever seen in her life – filled with energy and warmth. His smile made a huge impact on Ruhi’s pain, it suddenly disappeared.
They submitted their ID Cards for verification and looked around the campsite. India’s flag fluttered high in the sky right in the centre of what seemed to be a big circle of snow clad mountains. The Army camp was right in the centre of the huge valley; strategically this made the campsite vulnerable to attacks – as enemy could be on top of mountains and shoot downwards. However, this camp was the fourth Line of Defence from LOC to ensure help is available when required.
The Jawans were extremely delighted to have guests – this was the only time they could interact with other people – they were their only point of contact to the outer world; they tried to grab news as they exchanged their stories of bravery. They stay at this post throughout the year, even during freezing winters when the snow is six inch deep!
Jawans asked them which place they all belonged to and would be joyous if someone was from their hometown exchanging memories of the region. Majority of them came from interior villages of various states. They came from humble beginnings but had grown into great personalities with their determination and persistence.
Abhinav visited the Army temple. It had flags of all religions at its entrance and had pictures of Gods from all religions. He was shocked, he had never seen something like this before in his entire life! He called others to come and see the temple. ‘This is the temple of humanity’, a jawaan exclaimed, ‘We believe there is no religion bigger than humanity and place humanity and patriotism much above our respective religions. How else can we fight for our country together?’ The words echoed in their heads creating an impact.
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