By: Manab Manik
Watching the news of terrorist-attack at Pulwama on television in the afternoon, Sutapa as if quaked. Her Valentine is a soldier posted in Kashmir. Again and again that news is being telecast. Restless, she keeps on dialing but no response. She as if became more and more anxious.
With tearful eyes she began to recollect her long telephonic conversation of today’s morning. Today is the 14th February —- Valentine’s Day. In spite of staying away from her, Sutapa’s Valentine has given much love. The last year he came home in his village. In a secret meeting they exchanged red roses and celebrated this day. He said, “I shall go back to my village on 14th February this year.” But he didn’t get leave. So, they have exchanged their hearts on telephone in the morning today. Her Valentine has made her dream that they would build a home with hearts in December — a nest
where they will go on singing love-songs. On this very year her Valentine will get a separate quarter to stay with family. Then what is to worry about?
Her Valentine is the only son. His two elder sisters had been married the last year. His father is an ordinary peasant. After marriages of two daughters he is run into debt. Here again he didn’t get proper price of crops. Sutapa’s Valentine is a dream of his parents too. Sutapa is reminded of her school-days. Her Valentine excelled in studies. They have been chirping like love-birds since class eleven. Every year they have been celebrating this day with little gifts and love.
On his date of joining the army he cried too much, lest he misses her forever. Sutapa said that every 14th February would make him forget all his sorrows and sufferings.
Today is also the 14th February. Who knows how her Valentine is? In a terrorist-attack forty two soldiers are martyred at Pulwama. Perhaps this news will not shatter Sutapa’s dream to pieces. Forty two lives have shattered the dreams of forty two families to pieces. Perhaps Sutapa’s too. Some have lost sons, some husbands, some brothers and some elder brothers. The whole nation is as if suffering in pain. What an effort to hide the pains and pangs of forty two families only with lip service!!! Those soldiers are not defeated but destroyed. With lip service, with money the suited booted men will try to hide those pieces of flesh and pains and pangs of the families. But the ladies like Sutapa will lose the Valentines forever.
Sutapa is only going back to the past. Still now she does not know any news of Valentine. The picture of explosion on T.V screen will shake even a boulder. For forty two men are nothing but the pieces of flesh. None would be able to recognise them. Coming from dust, they returned to dust and were destroyed. Uri, Sukma, Dantewada, Pulwama have been flooded in blood.
Sutapa went her Valentine’s home. There was only cry. Sutapa was as if turned into stone in grief. Her Valentine was also among those forty two soldiers. Her dream was shattered to pieces. Her Valentine will never telephone her. The 14th February will come and go. Only Sutapa’s Valentine will not be……..