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Sunday, August 17, 2008

When India awakened in me

10th December 1971

My 5th birthday, the third Indo-Pak war is on its 6th day (if we say 4th December was the d-day). Its around 9 pm, I am sitting in the balcony of the government quarter where I stay. My mother is besides me and my sister who is 30 months old is sleeping in the room.

We live in Faridabad, a small town near the Indian capital of Delhi. My father, a government servant goes every day on his bi-cycle to catch a train to Delhi where his office is and he comes late in the evening on the same bi-cycle which he keeps at the railway station. He also has to carry a license for his cycle.

Over the past few weeks my mother has put dark brown papers on all our windows and in fact painted every thing black on the outside. The war between India and Pakistan can start any day. and there are policemen and some sort of chowkidar in whistling and telling to switch off all lights, not even candles should be lighted. There is a war between India and Pakistan.

My father has not arrived from work, my mother is worried as we sit outside the house - in the balcony. This is a government colony and we are in the first story flat of two storied colony. As we sit outside, my mother looks at the sky - and sure enough there are dots moving below the stars. These are aircraft moving, my mother tells me. My mother tells me, "These are Indian Air Force planes. We don't have Jets that Pakistan has, but our pilots are brave and they will stop them". This is obvious reference to Sabrejets (F-86) that Pakistan had in 1971 from US. India did not have these sort of high-end fighter planes. But our Hunters and Gnats were better. The morale was high.

My father arrived on his cycle little late. He said he wanted to bring some cakes for my birthday
or something like that. I am not sure now.

But my memory of looking at the sky with dots moving below the stars and the fear in the air of a possible long war and my mother holding me - the young boy of 5 years - in the balcony of the government flat in Faridabad is so vivid and clear even now.

I think that was the day, when INDIA AWAKENED IN ME!

I just wanted to get up - reach up the sky and fire Gun that I have been given as my birthday present on the Sabrejets that the enemy brings to the war with my country!

I think that was the day I got hooked on to India and Indian defence. I pursued as a hobby reading on Indian security, defence, war and history.

Last few days of 61st Independence I have been thinking about when did I realize India is my country. This was I think the point - at the age of 5! - that India awakened in me!

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