Varun Sharma was a very naughty little boy, who had a love for toy guns and war movies at a very young age. So it did not come as a surprise to the family, when he decided to join the Indian Army right after his Bsc Zoology course.
He excelled in his chosen career and he was very happy to be serving his country. He was itching to get into some “real action” and his prayers were answered in the year 1999. Varun was deployed to the icy heights of Kargil, a remote region in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
The whole nation stood like a rock behind the men fighting a war forced upon India by Pakistan. Mothers lost sons, wives lost husbands and children lost their fathers.
Varun’s family, which included his parents and his pregnant wife, waited anxiously for his phone calls. He always managed to sound cheery and optimistic, but the strain in his voice was loud and clear.
The news channels declared more and more casualties in the Indian Army and Varun lost many of his friends at war.
On July 26th Varun’s wife went into labour in the wee hours of the morning. So Varun’s parents rushed to the hospital to look up their daughter in law and waited patiently for the arrival of their very first grandchild.
The baby was not due for another 3 hours, so the elders decided to take a quick nap in one of the waiting rooms.
Mid way through her sleep, Varun’s mother woke up with a start on hearing Varun’s voice.
"Ma" Varun said.
She turned over and blinked in the dim light coming from the streetlamp outside the hospital window. Varun was standing beside the bed, gazing down at her tenderly. She sat up immediately.
"Varun!!" she gasped.
He smiled and sat down beside her, as he had often done when he was little. He took her hand and said: "I want you to know how much I appreciate you and Dad. It couldn't have been easy, raising a head-strong boy like me, but you did a wonderful job."
Varun's words filled her with a great joy and a terrible fear. Tears sprang to her eyes. He gently wiped away her tears with his finger. "I came to tell you that I am all right. Take care of my little baby girl for me."
"We will," she managed to say, realizing at last what this visit meant.
"I love you, Ma. We'll be together again real soon," Varun said. He leaned forward, kissed her on the cheek, and then he was gone.
She fell back against the pillows, too stunned even to weep. Her husband, who was a heavy sleeper, woke when he felt the bed jerk. He rolled over and mumbled: "Are you all right?"
"Something has happened to Varun," she said, too grief-stricken to be tactful. "I think he's dead."
Her husband jerked awake. "What?!" he exclaimed fearfully.
And on cue, they heard the voice of a baby crying out and a nurse came in holding a small bundle in her hand.
“Congratulations grandma and grandpa, it’s a little girl” And the nurse smiled brightly at them.