At times one doesn’t have the option but to be strong. It is very strange when people praise the strength of the Widows and Mothers and Daughters of the martyrs. We pat their backs, show respect, hold them as symbols of supreme strength and sacrifice! In short .. We glorify their bereavement in order to lure physically fit, mentally tenacious youth to join the armed forces. We feed them some nebulous ideals of patriotism and brainwash them to fight. Amidst fighting, if they lose their life, then it’s time to extol their women … Show their colorful funerals on primetime television, which will fill some innocent gullible young man with pride and a false sense of purpose and he shall then jump on the bandwagon of the worst brand of patriotism possible. The women of course fall for the men in uniforms (I fell for one such person 13 years ago and 5 years later got married to him … And Voila .. I am still married to him) without knowing what really awaits them! While they are in for a roller coaster ride (which entails varied but enriching experiences) they aren’t really prepared for a lifetime of trepidation. What happens in your neighbouring country or any part of your own country will directly have an impact on your life! It is living in the constant fear of an armed conflict which might take your man away. With time, you get used to the fear … You suffer from Stockholm Syndrome and you start taking pride when men you knew lose their lives. You try and help their widows who are labelled as “veer naries” (it is a loaded term and I hate using it for any woman let alone the one whose husband was brutally snatched by the politicians) and give them sewing machines and shawls on occasions like Kargil Diwas and Battle Honor Day. It’s abominable how these women are reminded of their loss year after year, not to forget the measly compensation (not tax free) they get which is not enough to feed a family of 2, let alone 4. However, it’s the charade of being a strong woman that keeps her going. For how long can you live off pride? After celebrating your beloved’s murder with such fanfare (I refuse to term it ‘sacrifice’) how can you afford to be anything else but strong. When all the time you are doctored to deal with the impending supreme sacrifice for your country maps of which can change anytime, how can you not react in the most automated fashion? When you are surrounded with stories of apparent valour and bravery and the only interaction you are permitted to have is within the confines of the cantonment, how can you be aware of a possibility of having a human reaction to an inhuman act? It is strange how a nation of 1.3 billion take pride in such versimilitude acts of bravery! I don’t. I am not proud of the brutal manner in which 17 young men (and not young guns … another loathsome term) were killed today. I am not proud of the apparent supreme sacrifice they made by giving up their lives for this country. I am certainly not in support of their widows being touted as strong women for the lack of a better word or inadequate vocabulary or an alternate reaction. I might be labelled a traitor … Unpatriotic… And I might be called names especially from my own fraternity … but for once … I DON’T GIVE A DAMN!!