Forty shades of brave

He lent a shoulder to his dad to put away the little harvested grain they had,
and then proceeded to carry around the village on the same proud shoulders his five year old lad;

His broad shoulders too carried the responsibility of the entire household, albeit from a salary that is better left untold,
The village’s pride and dignity also rested squarely on the same strapping and decorated scaffold;

The month flew by in a flash and it was time to untether from his better half and his Ma who stood at the back of the farewell crowd,
Their misty eyes and dry cheeks were stoic and proud but the anguish in their hearts of not seeing him for the next 11 months was deafeningly loud;

There were high fives and bear hugs when the brothers-in-arms arrived at the regiment HQ,
The standing orders were to mobilize to ‘Jannat Zameenasto’ if you get my cue;

The trucks were loaded up with holdalls, duffels and rucksacks,
After all, the living barracks at the camp were going to be meagre, cramped and barely enough to rest those tired backs;

The convoy started its perilous passage through the snowed-in and hollowed-out valley,
Some slept, others reminisced on the month that had been a blur and the rest joked, laughed and sang to give the sullen spirits and the freezing bodies a rally;

Mangled metal, dismembered bodies and billowing smoke made for a poignant painting of carnage,
the palette used was grim gray, gore red and godforsaken beige;

The ‘bits and pieces’ in the coffins wrapped in the Tricolour started arriving at their final destination,
Slogans, protestations and lamentations pierced the heavens, guns boomed to salute the departed and the mortal remains were consigned to the raging fires that screamed out battle cries of retribution;

It’s predictable what might ensue in the aftermath,
Blame games, passing of the buck, hollow rhetoric and perhaps nominal revenge might be exacted for all our might and wrath;

Time of reckoning is here and now, we must decide to no longer rant, persecute and rave,
No more lip service, no more jingoistic bravado, but a solemn resolve to never again let anyone paint with the forty shades of brave.