Kuppusamy was shocked to read the newspaper. On opening the newspaper in the morning, the first thing that struck him, the very headline was maddening. As many as twenty Jawans were martyred. There was a hush-hush news about it yesterday night in his colony. He ignored it thinking it could be about someone testing positive on Corona. He refused to put on TV and have a first-hand ‘Breaking News’ on it. Daily he had been hearing about COVID-19. No wonder, he was deadly tired of listening to the menace called COVID-19 all the time. It was some statistics or other about the ever-increasing positive Corona cases and death toll reached so far. That too they were blowing horns on which state was leading, at the state level how many tested positive, at all India level what was the figure, globally where we stand, etc. As though it was Olympic medal tally. Sometime they would highlight doctors’ humane service, sometimes the police atrocities and occasionally, the looting by private hospitals. He was tired of listening to such ghastly news. He said to himself that censoring was limited to motion pictures only and actually it was needed for news broadcasting.
Kuppusamy, because of COVID Corona news hotspots, lost track of a very vital news item of national importance. As soon as he opened the paper, the rude shock of our men getting killed brutally at Galwan valley, disturbed him heavily. Names of such war heroes were also given, with special mention of Colonel B. Santosh (of Hyderabad – it mattered little wherefrom he hailed)) and some Bihar regiment soldiers. There was one Tamilian also from Madurai by name K. Palaniappan. It was very painful to go through the details. It was reliably learnt that equal if not more, number of casualties were on the other side also. Whoever died this side or that side at the war field, bloodshed was bloodshed. No mother ever gave birth to her son without undergoing the perils of labour pain.
It was still a puzzle as to why suddenly so much pressure at the Indo-China border. The newspaper editor had put it on China’s escapism route from global blame of initiating a worldwide spread of pandemic, just without any warning. Wuhan of China started and it spread across all countries. No passport, no visa needed for such viral bacteria. A free travel. China itself suffered heavily under the COVID crisis. But it also came out of the deadly problem pretty soon. What about other countries? They were still fighting. The worst nuisance that followed was the economic crises. Both health and economy were terribly hit. Hence, they were deadly against the country of the host of the crux – China. They automatically turned to the next big giant of Asia – India, for all support and sustenance.
The editor strongly held that because of this turning point, China unable to eschew the outcome, sprang upon India by crushing a few unarmed patrolling soldiers along the border. That incident had terribly agonised our men and they gave a befitting reply. Unfortunately, India lost around twenty gems. Kuppusamy was mentally weeping, and his heart bled for those tender young soldiers. One pertinent question rather, the funny part was, “Did China know about its aimless fight for one reason, and the actual fight was for another bigger reason?” Capturing Galwan was only a namesake face-off matter. Actual thing was the India’s economic gain over China.
The repercussion of the war was felt throughout the country. Many were agitated by the Chinese excesses. There were huge cries on ‘Ban Chinese products. Go for Indian products.’ Ban China Get India was catching up very fast in every walk of life, similar to the pre-independent era of ‘banish foreign goods’ movement. Kuppusamy also vowed to himself that he would buy only Indian things. Alas, he was summarily lost when he came to know that every second item in daily usage, was made in China. They were cheap and available in plenty. Such a widespread impact on every household! Right from small pencil, pen, electrical gadget to big machineries, sports goods and what not everything came from China. Even Ganesha idols, ‘Holi pichkaris meant for spraying and flashing colour waters during the festivals came from China. About Chinese intrusion into the mobile phones and technological applications, the less spoken much better. In Tiruppur, the so called ‘little Japan of India’, all the knitting works had come to a standstill for a single reason, -- buttons to be sewn on the dresses had to come from China. The Chinese dragon had spread its wagging tail far and wide.
Kuppusamy tired of knowing about Chinese extravaganza, was thoroughly exhausted. He wanted to go out and refresh himself by breathing some fresh air in the open space. But due to lockdown he could not do that. His kept grumbling on that. His wife then reminded him about the medicines she required. That was a real timely relief to step out in search of fresh air. He took the prescription and went walking to the medical shop. While returning he saw that few people were talking to each other. They were certainly not south Indian folks. Their appearance, their slit eyes, snubbed noses, their fair skinned complexion, their nasal accent … all were akin to Mongolian clan tribes of North-eastern India. So much so that they looked closer to Chinese people than any mainland Indian.
Kuppusamy already oppressed by the Chinese aggression, could not just bypass or overlook them as those guys were talking merrily among themselves in their language. He stopped near them. He asked what were they up-to in these Corona days. Social distancing and wearing masks were essential. Those guys were not keen on observing those norms. Two were with masks and two were not. The two persons not wearing masks left immediately. Kuppusamy asked them who they were and what were their names. One said, “I am Tsering Namgyal and he is Stanzin Namdan. We love Galwan and we love Pangong Tso.” On hearing, ’we love Galwan’ Kuppusamy lost his temper. “How dare you say that! Galwan ours and only ours.” Tsering also said laughingly, “Yes. Ours and only ours. Hail our soldiers fighting for our soil.”
This irritated Kuppusamy further. He was there with a preconceived notion that they were of Chinese origin and Corona was their gift to India. The present predicament was all due to them. Though he was not familiar with North East Frontier areas and their names, the names these two guys uttered also sounded more like Chinese, quite similar to Xi Xinping, Maotse Tung etc. Kuppusamy caught hold of Stanzin and gave him right and left. “Breathing our air, drinking our waters, eating our salts and you say, Galwan ours and hail our soldiers! eh?” You thought that we Indians are mere timid sheep and will take anything meek and mild? Leave everything to you and run away? Haven’t you heard of Fa Hien the Chinese traveller of olden days? With what great respect and honour he had admired and described India in his books. Lured by his narrations, you fools have come to grab Galwan, eh? I will not spare you. Every Indian here will not. They will see that you are driven out, right now.” Kuppusamy was still in his agitated mood raining blows on the fellow Stanzin.
The other man Tsering tried his best to free his friend from the clutches of Kuppusamy. But he too received quite a few strokes from the angry Kuppusamy. Hearing some noisy shouts, people from closed houses and surrounding areas came running. One Mr. Munuswamy, rushed forward, pushed Kuppusamy aside and freed the two guys from his treacherous blows. Munuswamy bringing Kuppusamy to his senses, shouted at him.
”Who are you to lay hands on these innocent guys? They are our security men here. They are from Laddhak. On your own, you imagined them to be Chinese and yourself to be a great patriotic soldier trying to deliver justice? If our armed forces are a great security guarding our border area, these guys are also a security here in our area. They are no less than our border security forces. Just because they have resemblance to Chinese looks and appearances, how can you conclude they are Chinese? Even if they are Chinese, how do you take them as traitors and punish them? I warn you. Stop with this. Taking law into your hands will land you in jail.”
Kuppusamy quite ashamed and feeling very sorry for his foolish act, said meekly. “I lost control when they said, Galwan ours.”
“They said Galwan ours. Hail to our soldiers, Because, they are Indians and they hold it very close to them. You and I know Galwan by name whereas they inhale Galwan, they exhale Galwan. For them certainly Galwan was not for waging any war.”
Kuppusamy with folded hands fell at their feet and pleaded forgiveness. The two guys did not know how to react. If it was fighting, they would also go tit for tat. But pleading pardon? Munuswamy spoke to Kuppusamy on their behalf that it was their magnanimity that they were not going to police. They were peace loving people and left the scuffle without getting it bitter and bitter.
Undoubtedly, Galwan was not and is for waging war. Galwan is for peace-loving people only. Laddhakis love Galwan.
Kuppusamy said, “I too love Galwan. I am at peace now.”
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Very good story and a reminder that all the world is in turmoil and struggling with this virus.
The vivid description portrays the imagery very well! This is such a great story! Would you mind checking my recent story out, "Red, Blue, White?" Thank you!
Thank you very much. I shall go through your creation very soon after this week's completion.
Shyamala, fantastic story! I truly could feel your enthusiasm in portraying the affinity for motherland Kuppuswamy has and it is adorable. Even to a new reader, your description convey enough grasp over the tension between the 2 neighbors and it is quite hard to do that given the tight space in short stories. Well done!
Thank you very much. I pity those North East Indians and Leh-Laddhak people who have Mangolian complexion traces in them and working elsewhere in India. Therefore they are widely misunderstood and easily left out of common platforms. Once again I thank you for your nice words.
China's face-off with India was one reason but motive or the real reason for the fight is another one.