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Amrita Tripathi

Writer/ Journalist/ Time Traveller

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Blog posts August 2014

Favourite Photo: Behind the Scenes

August 13, 2014

 Behind The Scenes (The BRAVE) - L to R: Vishal Batra, Mukesh Khetarpal, me, Rachna Bisht, Bana Singh.

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I-Day Week

August 13, 2014

For a generation that's all me, my, I, or i- ... It's good to know we can still be shaken out of our self-absorption, every so often. For me, a shoot I went for today did more than that. Ostensibly to shoot with some "faces" as a book on Paramvir Chakra Awardees ("The Brave" By Rachna Bisht) was to be launched... but it was so much more.

I had the chance to meet one of the three living Paramvir Chakra awardees - Bana Singh (after whom the peak in Siachen is named Bana Top, because of his courage and that of his men in re-claiming it from Pakistan), as well as the brave brave brothers of two Paramvir Chakra awardees. Captain Vikram Batra has become a household name and hero in India -- his twin brother Vishal Batra joined us for a special show on CNN-IBN, and shared his memories and thoughts... as did Mukesh Khetarpal, the brother of 2nd Lt Arun Khetarpal, who was post-humously awarded a Paramvir Chakra for his valour in the 1971 Indo-Pak war.

It blows me away to realise how young Capt. Batra and 2nd Lt Khetarpal were - 24 and 21, respectively.

I was an idiot at that age. A delinquent, practically. And there they were, fighting for their country, braver than brave. And it's only in interacting with their brothers that I got a sense of what that means. Even as we pay tribute to the martyrs, we should also remember those they've left behind.

The families of the fallen deserve to be saluted, there's no question. They too are braver than brave -- dealing with the haunting loss year after year, day after day. As Mr Khetarpal told me, it doesn't go away. "My parents took it to their graves," he said, even as he grappled with the question as to "what" makes men martyrs - DNA/ their spirit? Their conditioning? Would they make the same choices again if they had a "do-over"? And how devastating that must be, for the family? I can't even imagine. That was something he was keen to highlight -- no one except other families in a similar situation can understand that personal grief. As for the rest of us? Well, the country does come together every so often to remember - Independence Day & Republic Day, like clockwork... 

Individually of course, it's a different story -- in fact Mr Batra shared how he and his late brother ("Luv and Kush") used to lap up stories of the "PVC" heroes... immortalised and now very much a part of our national (and myth-building) narrative. 

I never considered myself a "patriot" as such and am definitely not jingoistic, definitely more peace and love "dove" than hawk, but I also recognise that it's these men guarding the borders, doing these unthinkable things, making unthinkable choices and sacrifices, who give me the liberty to be this way. (It's not just A Few Good Men on screen or off, it's many many more... and more than can be commemorated, probably).

The Brave: Paramvir Chakra Heroes will air on CNN-IBN on Independence Day, August 15, at 8 pm. 

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