The poem below has been composed by a fourth generation, 24-year old career officer in the Indian Armed Forces, spurred by the report of the Sixth Pay Commission and an insensitive article written by a 'respectable' citizen of the country in a national daily on the armed forces and the pertinence of the Sixth Pay Commission therein.
This free-flowing verse has not been edited; it's to ensure that the originality of the angst is maintained. After all, when you are in pain, the language of expression is the last thing in your mind
At Seven, I had decided what I wanted to be;
I would serve you to the end,
All these boundaries I would defend.
Now you make me look like a fool,
When at Seventeen and just out of school;
Went to the place where they made "men out of boys"
Lived a tough life …sacrificed a few joys…
In those days, I would see my 'civilian' friends,
Living a life with the fashion trends;
Enjoying their so called "College Days"
While I sweated and bled in the sun and haze…
But I never thought twice about what where or why
All I knew was when the time came, I'd be ready to do or die.
At 21 and with my commission in hand,
Under the glory of the parade and the band,
I took the oath to protect you over land, air or sea,
And make the supreme sacrifice when the need came to be.
I stood there with a sense of recognition,
But on that day I never had the premonition,
that when the time came to give me my due,
You'd just say," What is so great that you do?"
Long back you promised a well to do life;
And when I'm away, take care of my wife.
You came and saw the hardships I live through,
And I saw you make a note or two,
And I hoped you would realise the worth of me;
but now I know you'll never be able to see,
Because you only see the glorified life of mine,
Did you see the place where death looms all the time?
Did you meet the man standing guard in the snow?
The name of his newborn he does not know...
Did you meet the man whose father breathed his last?
While the sailor patrolled our seas so vast?
You still know I'll not be the one to raise my voice
I will stand tall and protect you in Punjab Himachal and the Thars.
But that's just me you have in the sun and rain,
For now at Twenty Four, you make me think again;
About the decision I made, Seven years back;
Should I have chosen another life, some other track?
Will I tell my son to follow my lead?
Will I tell my son, you'll get all that you need?
This is the country you will serve
This country will give you all that you deserve?
I heard you tell the world "India is shining"
I told my men, that's a reason for us to be smiling
This is the India you and I will defend!
But tell me how long will you be able to pretend?
You go on promise all that you may,
But it's the souls of your own men you betray.
Did you read how some of our eminent citizens
Write about me and ridicule my very existence?
I ask you to please come and see what I do,
Come and have a look at what I go through
Live my life just for a day
Maybe you'll have something else to say?
I will still risk my life without a sigh
To keep your flag flying high
but today I ask myself a question or two…
Oh India…. Why do I still serve you.