Author : Rahul Raveendran
Company : Tata Elxsi
Email : email@example.com
“We are currently in front of Late Lieutenant Milan Das’s house. Sitting in front of me is not only a proud father but also one of the pioneers of Indian army-Colonel Manav Das”, proclaimed the young lady interviewer tilting her head towards the right.
“First of all, we would like to present our deepest condolences for your loss” said the young lady.
“Thank you for your kindness. But I am currently feeling more proud than sorry for my son” replied the old man with a feeble smile.
“Yes indeed. How less would anyone feel about your son who had saved hundreds during the terrorist attack last week, giving up his own life for the cause.”
Tears started trickling down from the proud father’s eyes. But he wiped it off quick enough.
“We are all aware about the horror created by the terrorists in this city over the last few days, but sir, don’t you feel like you want to avenge your son?”
The Colonel didn’t reply, instead he gave a mild smile towards the camera.
“The whole country mourns for your son and they want justice for those who lost their lives. What do you have to say about that sir?”
“Young lady, my family is in no position to avenge anyone. We haven’t yet finished mourning for our son.”
“I am sorry sir, I didn’t mean to offend you. But don’t you think it would have been better if it was the terrorist, who is currently in prison, died rather than your son?”
The Colonel replied-“Who are we to judge that? Every single life is valuable by its own means…….”
“But sir, how could you rule in favor of such a criminal who is responsible for all those deaths and terror?”
“I didn’t mean it like that. He deserves punishment of course. Well..uh…at this moment I would like to revisit one of my oldest memories , during one such encounter. It was around 20 years ago.”
“Please go on sir. I am sure the viewers would love to hear it too.”
“It was a military operation of course. The mission was to rescue a group of people who had been held hostages…..”
“Oh, I wouldn’t say so. Just some bunch of fools trying to get some ransom. Our orders were to eliminate all resistance and rescue every single hostage. We got there as planned but all hell broke loose when they murdered two hostages just to threaten us. What followed was a savage war. People were down at both ends, but still we managed to rescue the rest of the hostages.”
The Colonel looked pale and disturbed as he went on with the story. But the lady decided to go on with the interview.
“Our next aim was to eliminate the enemies. We parted in groups searching for the rest of the kidnappers. As I entered a room I saw a boy, around 15 years, holding a gun and standing at a corner, frightened!”
“One of them?” asked the interviewer.
“Yes. The lad dropped the gun the moment he saw me and my comrade enter the room. I still raised the gun at him at point blank. My comrade was shouting at me to pull the trigger as he was in pain of losing some of our friends. He shouted ‘He is one of them. If we leave him alive, he will grow and be one of them. What’s the purpose in that? If you shoot him now, many more lives will be saved. So pull the trigger lieutenant.’ But I was double-minded. When I looked at the lad’s eyes I didn’t see a criminal, I saw a lost boy who ended up in the wrong place. So I asked my comrade ‘How can we know? He’s just a boy!’ My comrade wasn’t happy with that. But he told me that it was up to me whether the boy was to live or not. Either way, it was my decision or my responsibility.”
“And you decided to spare the boy?” asked the lady with a doubtful mind.
“But why sir? I am sorry but I support your comrade. He may be a boy, but he was a criminal.”
“You are right, he was a criminal, but he didn’t grow up to be one.”
Colonel looked up at the sky and replied with a smile. “I adopted the boy after he served some jail time and I raised him to be a worthy man. And last week he proved his worth by saving hundreds of lives.”
A wave of shock spread across the crew. But the Colonel started shedding tears.
“For all of you who are watching this programme whether you are a criminal or not, I just want to convey that every single life you harm or take has a big value. For you, he/she maybe just a victim but for others they are much more. That one decision I made 20 years ago saved many lives but not the way my comrade and many others interpreted. Please remember, every single person’s life is valuable by their own means. Just like my son’s………….”