Aisha Saeed |
It was 12 at midnight. Sara sat drowsily on the sofa with the phone by her side. Never had she waited this long for a phone call. Time ticked slowly and with every tick of the clock, her heart sank. Suddenly, the phone rang and she picked it up. Her heart was beating fast and she hoped to hear a voice that she longed to hear. She spoke, “You didn’t call me back. The man on the other end replied, “I am very far darling, wait…as soon as I get to Lahore I will give you a call. Till then, support me and pray that I get home safely. I love you but duty calls me, I am a soldier you know that.”She sighed and answered,” I know…. I love you too.”
Sara’s husband; a major in Pakistan Army’s Special Service Group, was posted in the hostile town of Miranshah located in North Waziristan. Things had changed since the war against terrorism started. Sara’s life was a constant battle of emotions. Her husband, Major Abdullah, a dedicated soldier and a loving husband had been fighting the terrorists for more than two months now.
Terrorists targeted army generals to brigadiers, from army posts to army bases in the country. Sons, brothers, husbands, and fathers of many families have paid the ultimate sacrifices for the country.
The headlines of the ongoing conflicts in the tribal areas of Pakistan gloomed the newspapers and channels. Since 2003, the armed forces were beset with 6,856 causalities. The list of those injured and martyred in war is never-ending. The year of 2009 was the deadliest year for the Pakistani army as more than over 200 men lost their lives. Pakistan has become the country where death toll of high ranking army officers is far more. Besides, the army has the highest officer to Jawan martyrdom ratio in the world.
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According to various other sources, almost five thousand men have lost their lives in the line of duty. Terrorists targeted army generals to brigadiers, from army posts to army bases in the country. Sons, brothers, husbands, and fathers of many families have paid the ultimate sacrifices for the country.Yet each year, more and more men join the armed forces with pride. Sara was a proud army spouse, but reading such news made her uneasy.
Ever since Sara’s husband had left, she worried about his safety. Not getting any word from him made her anxious. Although goodbyes were frequent between the two, Sara never got used to the feeling. Being a spouse of a soldier is not for the faint-hearted women is what she learned in her few years of marriage.
Although they might seem to be ready to bear the news of their martyrdom but deep down, being a woman she knows how fragile she is. Any news or calls except his voice cannot calm their nerves down.
The frequent goodbyes, the joyful homecomings, the hope of holding his hand while delivering his child and a lot more in the life of an army man’s wife seems to become a routine. Such wives are stronger than other wives; they manage to be strong not for themselves but rather for their husbands. They want their husbands to know that while they are fighting on the battlefield, their wives are praying for them. No matter what the situation, army wives stay steadfast along with their husbands.
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It takes a lot to understand and cater to the needs of a husband who sees and goes through a tough duty. The wives have to wait, cry at times but manage the house all because they want to give comfort to their husbands. Although they might seem to be ready to bear the news of their martyrdom but deep down, being a woman she knows how fragile she is. Any news or calls except his voice cannot calm their nerves down.
The clock ticked 2, Sara was still sitting on the sofa. The call from Abdullah had left her wondering back to the days of her marriage. She knew that she was not marrying an ordinary civilian but a man in uniform. Her married life seemed to be an adventurous one. But at times when he was away, Sara would always be on the edge of her emotions. She dozed off on the sofa.
In his hands, he held a uniform. A familiar name on the uniform stuck her eyes. It was her Abdullah’s uniform. She dropped to the floor, shaken by the sight and then the officer broke the news of her husband’s martyrdom.
Three months on, and Abdullah was still in the line of duty. With no leaves, Sara had not seen him. His next call to his wife was the one that changed Sara’s life. Major Abdullah was detailed on a covert operation to rescue few of his fellow men. They had been taken hostage by the terrorists. Abdullah told Sara that he would not be able to contact her for a few days. Sara asked no questions and she held to his last words. “I will come back to you”, he said, “but if I don’t, stay strong for my sake, do not cry for I will always be in your heart”.
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Sara spent the days eager to hear from Abdullah and prayed silently for everyone’s safe return. But she was not ready to bear the news of what was yet to come her way. A few days later, Sara’s doorbell rang. She hurriedly ran to open the door. Abdullah would finally be home. To her utter disappoint it was not her husband. Another army official was standing at the door. In his hands, he held a uniform. A familiar name on the uniform stuck her eyes. It was her Abdullah’s uniform. She dropped to the floor, shaken by the sight and then the officer broke the news of her husband’s martyrdom.
She was standing in front of a grave. Her arms were holding a year old baby boy. October 15th marked Major Abdullah’s first death anniversary. His son, Ali never got to see his father. All Sara had was his pictures, memories and a tale of courage to tell her son. All she can do now is move on but his last words haunt her nights and she cannot be the same woman again.
Note: This is a piece of fiction written as a tribute to all wives who lost their husbands in Pakistan’s fight against terrorism.
Aisha Saeed is an independent Research Analyst on Media and Foreign Policy; she tweets: @MsAishaK.The views expressed are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.