For the country - different shades

"An ace shooter wins gold and the Govt gives over Rs 1 crore in awards. Another ace shooter dies fighting terrorists and Govt pays out Rs 5 lakhs."
Somebody initiated that thought through sms.
The two had similar skills; the targets were different. Each did his bit, contributed his might (mite) for the country. But how very different are the consequences and after effects!
Even as I pondered over that, I came across these verses.
Dear Madame President,

Should I severe the ties that are almost a decade strong?
Should I chew my words and call my decision wrong?
Should I return the trousseau that my mother chose?
Should I turn all the festivities into an affair morose?
Should I go and tell him that I love him no more,
Shattering him again and making his heart sore?

Whose fault is it, dear madame, that I decide thus?
Would you say that it's personal and I should not fuss?
Nothing, my dear lady, is personal about a soldier's life.
For when has he thought of his mom, dad, kid and wife?
He, whose only call is the call of honour, forgets what he was
And becomes what he's forced to be- a number among the Olive Green mass.

He demands nothing and goes about in silence.
Drinking and smoking, when clouds of desolation grow dense.
His mother awaits him and calls up time and again,
He switches off the phone to avoid that voiced pain.
His friends ask him to come (along with two Black Labels)
And see their plush houses and read therein their success' tales.

His wife will wait for months to get some surgery done
As, in that dilapidated SF, caring enough she finds none.
She would remember sadly her starry-eyed days
When what attracted her was his gallant ways.
Never did she realize, that foregoing her Doctorate in the UK
All she would get is this battered house, stale ration and his meager pay.

He was no less- in fact, better than some now white-collared ones.
Only, he thought romantically as one of Mother India's sons,
And chose the call letter from IMA, among several others,
And avowed his commitment to his land and his brothers.
He did push ups, while his colleagues abroad partied
His cousins wore designer labels, while he a "combat" dirtied.

He is unlikely to accompany his wife to that family function
Where she goes alone and starts crying from the junction.
'Coz how would she face her friends and cousins and siblings,
Who would judge her attire, and other material things?
She never was a hedonist, but now she feels the pain
And curses the day when he ceased to remain "sane".

For what else is this, if not utter insanity?
That he sacrifices his dreams at the altar of others' vanity.
He sleeps in trenches along with his boys,
And yet unable to buy his kids' favourite toys.
His kids are born and brought up in his absence
And he kisses their wallet-ed photos in silence.

For the first time, he demanded a share of what he deserves:
An agonized plea to the heads of the land he serves.
The petition goes from table to table, round and round
And he stands still, awaiting good, as if spellbound.
Someone, then, accuses him of hedonism and greed
And lists what he gets, and how it surpasses his need.

He feels cheated and in humiliation decides to take the call
To hang his starred uniform, once and for all.
But will he be able to carry through this decision?
After all, it was he who chose a Permanent commission!
When he decided to join, he overcome all resistance,
But when he decides to quit, he stands a bleak chance.

Why should I, then, be a fool and marry another?
Who, like his band of brothers, will find me a bother!
Why should I let go of my dreams to fuel his self-destructive fire,
When the nation that he serves will find no time to light his pyre?
Why should I, along with him, bear the burden that others discard,
And sacrifice all I have to be called an "emotional retard"?

Why should I not confront him and say-
"I don't want to marry you because you can't nay
What your seniors orders, even if I lay here dying.
I don't want to spend my life waiting for you crying.
I get hurt to see the attitude of the unsympathetic crowd
To ensure whose sleep, your commitment is clear and loud.
They begrudge you, your little pay hike,
This would enable you to buy your coveted bike.
Who weigh your life in an imbalanced scale,
And choose to ignore the path of hardships you trail."

....A soldier's betrothed
A footnote follows the above outpouring:
"This is how every young lady, who is in love with or betrothed to an Army officer, is bound to feel in the wake of the uncertainties surrounding the sixth pay commission. The ladies serve the organization in their own way WITHOUT being on the payrolls. They leave their careers and individuality behind to become a pillar to their men folk. With transfers every three years, forced separations and agonizing civilian apathy, the ladies are forced to limit their horizons. Does it not make sense, then, to shun the Army personnel altogether in the marriage market?"
Feel like quoting JFK's "Ask not..."? Do save your breath, spare a thought instead.

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