Captain Karan was feeling homesick. He was at an isolated post. Many years have passed. But this time it was different. Ma told him his sister will be at home for her first rakhi.”She must be there by now. Why I am missing them so much, missing Ma ke haath ka Khanna(mumma’s homemade food) and Uma’s speciality atte ka halwa (wheat flour porridge).Oh! God.” His eyes were moist. His sister had got married the previous year and this was her first Rakhshabandan after her marriage. She was also away from home, like him. Thinking about his sister and the rest of his family he remembered the happy times but was also a bit sad. He took out the album he kept with him and cherished the pictures and moments they shared till now. He kissed his family photo. This time it was a tough posting so he was not able to talk to them. His family’s chest used to swell with pride as they narrated stories of Karan’s courage and his passion towards the country. Karan was at an unknown isolated post for an operation. They were out of contact for days. This was not the first time. But for some reason, Capt Karan was feeling more homesick than ever.
Capt Karan and five jawans were on patrol at a high altitude location where it was chilling cold even in August. With adequate weaponry, they settled themselves in the bunker. With minimum food, snowfall and withstanding every adverse condition, these tigers were patrolling days and nights.
“Remember, Rejoice and Renew” as it is said. The sacrifice of the soldiers instils pride and respect among us. They rekindle pride among us.
“Capt Karan? Do you hear me? This is Major Arjun.”
“Yes, Sir! I can hear you loud and clear!”
“How is life? How is the weather? What about the night patrolling?”
It was the daily call from headquarters. Karan reported everything to Maj Arjun.
As he was finishing, Maj Arjun replied, “We have got a parcel from your home! It looks like as if its Rakhi!”
Capt Karan was speechless. “Home! Uma! My sister! Can you send it across Sir?”
“We are indeed trying to send it through the helicopter. But the bad weather has stopped flying. Let us hope if we can send it tomorrow!”
The weak radio link was cut by a heavy sandstorm. Capt Karan and his men had to take shelter in one place and wait for it to pass over. The entire day went but the snowstorm would not abate. Myriad thoughts kept swelling up in Capt Karan’s mind. They were all doing national duty here and yet there was a void in his heart, which could only be filled by the memories of his family.
They managed to stay in a safe location the entire night, taking turns at being sentry and sleeping in turns. The morning came and suddenly the weather cleared. And soon he heard the whipping sound of helicopters above. His heart started thumping louder and louder with the sound of the helicopter. The radio crackled and he was informed that ration was being sent through helicopters. Soon, they prepared the ground for receiving the airdrop. First came the sacks of ration. And then, at last, a bundle labelled ‘Mail’. The hovering pilot gave up a thumbs-up sign and flew away. “Aha! A bag full of mail!” Karan called up everyone. In that mailbag, there was mail for everyone. And a large packet for Karan. He gingerly opened it. To his surprise, it did not just contain Rakhi for him but for his entire platoon. It was sent by his sister, Uma. They were all overjoyed and tied rakhi on each other’s wrist. It gave goosebumps to everyone.
Today it was a great day. The harsh conditions had made them lose track of time but today they had celebrated Rakshabandhan, thanks to Uma.
One of the men said, “Sir lets make a call to headquarter and tell them to make a call on our behalf to your sister to thank her!”
Capt Karan radioed the headquarter.
“This is Capt Karan. Thanks for the ration and the mail!”
The signal operator said, “Sir! Can you give the mobile number of your sister? I will try it on the satellite phone!”
“Ok Sure! Xxxxxxxxx!”
After a long wait which seemed interminable for Karan, there was a sequence of beeps…
Beep .. beep ..beep…!
With each beep, Karan’s heartbeat increased!
“Hellooo … Hellooo bhai (brother)!!! Karan Bhai!!! Mumma! See Karan Bhai has called!”
“Hello, Karan beta! Tussi theek ho na beta!”(Are you alright?)
“Oh Ma! I am alright! I will be back soon. Don’t worry! Uma!!! How are you!!! Lots of love from our unit … behna(sister)!! It was such a pleasant surprise … Your rakhis for all of us!!” … Beep!!!
The call suddenly got disconnected. Another wave of icy wind hit Capt Karan and the snowstorm made a comeback. But Capt Karan’s team was overjoyed. They felt nothing of the snow and the cold. That bag full of love created a special place in everyone’s heart. For a while, everyone remembered their sisters and memory kept them warm even in the snowstorm.
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