New Delhi: Simran Randhawa remembers pretending to contact her father, Major Sukhvinder Singh Randhawa, who was killed during an anti-militancy operation in Pulwama in 1997 when she was 18 months old, with a toy phone. Simran writes in her book ‘Cost of War’ that it is simple to shout for war and action from the comfort of one’s house, but every triumph comes at a cost, news agency PTI reported.
“I wanted to write a book to describe how a child feels after he or she has lost father. War does not just end with fallen soldiers. It also leaves behind the tattered lives of their families,” 26-year-old Simran, currently studying psychology in Canada was quoted by PTI in its report.
Major Randhawa was given the Kirti Chakra posthumously after laying down his life on June 17, 1997, after killing two terrorists. At the time, she was 18 months old.
Her mother, Lt Col R J Randhawa, was the first married woman officer commissioned in the Army, thanks to Ranjana Malik, then-president of the Army Wives Welfare Association, who pushed her case via her husband, then-Army commander Gen Ved Prakash Malik.
At the book launch, Malik said, “It was a case closely followed by Ranjana and I had a meeting with the then Raksha Mantri (Defence Minister) Mulayam Singh Yadav, who gave clearance for relaxing the rules and allowing her to be commissioned in the army.”
Simran discusses times in her life when she missed her father and questioned individuals who engage in warmongering in her book.
“…it is easy to chant for war and action from the safety of your own homes. It is easy to talk about the inaction of the Army or the government when you are looking at a TV screen and not a hail of bullets. Every time you demand war, think of us. I think we, as a country, sometimes forget that there is a price for every victory. We forget until you pass by a war memorial and see the never-ending names, we forget until you see someone like me cry, and our lives ruined. I think sometimes we forget that there are lives that bleed for each victory,” she writes.
She recalled her visit to the National War Memorial, where everyone sees a stone commemorating all dead troops.
“And towards the end you see rows of empty stones, waiting for soldiers to fall. What an ominous sight, to expect more bloodshed. In a way it is practical to have room for more stones, but in every other way, it is utterly heartbreaking,” she said.
Simran says that people often claim that children forget with the passage of time, despite the fact that she has maintained every single memory.
“Well let me tell you something, they don’t. They might not remember details or facts, but they remember how they feel,” she said.
“I remembered the feeling of loss. The feeling of calling out for someone who is just a memory now. I remember using a toy phone to make imaginary calls to papa on some imaginary military base that he is on. A base that he couldn’t return from or call from. I remember looking at families and just knowing that something was missing…,” she wrote.
Lt Gen KJS Dhillon, the former chief of the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), said the novel is about a small girl who felt fortunate to be born prematurely so she could spend more time in the lap of her army father.
While appreciating the author, former Director General of Military Operations Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia stated that this is not just the cost of war, but also the “cost of peace” for the nation, which is paid by the families of soldiers, sailors, and air warriors.
(With PTI Inputs)