It was late in the night and I was on my way back home. The evening was spent catching up with friends in the other end of the town. So what that really meant is that while they were going to reach home within minutes, I would be on the road for an hour or even more. Though I love long drives, there are times when they are just annoying.
Its times like these that I wish I were a night crawler. Life would be so comfortable if I didn’t have to waste hours getting back to my far far away home which my parents insisted on buying… Passing through the military area, I was brought back to reality, which many a times eludes me. It was only a matter of seconds, but the impact still remains.
In an otherwise deserted road, he was the only soldier standing under the only light. And under that light, he had his hand spread out to see clearly the words that even I wanted to read. As I said, it was only a matter of seconds, and what remains in my mind is the picture of that lonely soldier reading a book under the street light in the middle of the night.
I don’t know his age or his name or whether he was staying alone or had a family. I don’t know whether he was reading a gripping novel or preparing for his exams.
What I also don’t know how it might have been for my father. He retired from the Army recently and what I remember as a child is of him not being there. Birthdays, volleyball matches, exam time… he was never there because he couldn’t. He was always posted in some place where the signal was bad and when his call came, we would hear each other’s voices echo over the line. It was weird and kind of cool, because there weren’t many like me whose parents were in the forces.
His is mostly an untold story, snippets of which I sometimes get to hear. How he comes from a poor family and how he didn’t know about a toothbrush till he was in college. How at 18 year of age, he had to leave his house to join the Army and how he didn’t cry in front of his parents when he sat in the train and when the train started he cried alone; he was scared.
I forget how privileged I am to be where I am. How grateful to have a father when my others have lost theirs. And yet, many a times, I take for granted things I haven’t earned.
Right now I just have one prayer for the future me –
When you get angry at your parents, when going home feels like a chore and when the only thing you want is to be left alone and not be bothered by your “intrusive folks”, remember the man you saw under the streetlight. How lonely you felt looking at him; how your father might have been in the same spot many years back. Sometimes you get what you want, even though you should have never even asked for it in the first place. So whatever time you have got left with your parents, spend it wisely, lest you end up living a life full of regrets.
This will make you cry: http://www.buzzfeed.com/awesomer/the-most-touching-photos-ever-taken and also this http://t.co/ITkHbmLvc2
PICTURE 1: Eight-year-old Christian Golczynski accepts the flag for his father, Marine Staff Sgt. Marc Golczynski, during a memorial service.
PICTURE 2: A German soldier solemnly celebrates his 34th birthday on the plains of Afghanistan.
PICTURE 3: A soldier meets his baby for the first time.