In the line...

Mini couldn’t get enough of her uncle’s stories. “He is a brave soldier,” she thought. And, then, her belief was confirmed.

Mini looked at her uncle, Captain Mitran, with admiration. He was tall and handsome, with a big moustache, and kind and smiling eyes. After a long time, he was visiting Chennai. His wife, Dr. Lakshmi had already shifted to the city and settled in. Both of them loved Mini, whose parents were engineers.

Mini listened avidly to her uncle’s stories. The freezing cold of the frontiers, the life of the soldiers, their sleepless vigil along the borders and their lonely lives. All this made a great impression on her.

They made grand plans to ring in the new year with gusto. Then, all of a sudden, her uncle was summoned back to the frontier.

“Can’t you go after the new year?” she begged.

“No, Mini, I am sorry. I have to go. My country looks after me, paying me a good salary and giving me all the comforts and benefits. Now, it is time for me to repay. I have to fight and save my country.” While he was packing his bag, Mini saw tears in her aunt’s eyes.


Mini missed her uncle terribly. Back at school, when the teacher asked the class to write a composition on ‘My aim in life’, she wrote about wanting to join the army.

“You are a clever girl, don’t you want to become an engineer or a doctor?” asked her teacher.

“No. I want to protect my country from enemies. I want to join the army.”

The teacher was surprised by this answer. She noticed the steely determination in Mini’s eyes.

Days went by and there was no news from uncle Mitran. Lakshmi aunty was sad.

Then, one day she came home excited. “Mini, uncle Mitran is getting the Param Vir Chakra award for his bravery in battle. He will receive it from the President on the Republic Day.”

On Republic Day, they were all excited. They switched on the television and everyone crowded onto the sofa to get a good view of the proceedings. Lakshmi aunty took pride of place in the centre. Just as she sat down, her phone began to ring. It was the hospital. There was a complication regarding a patient and her services were required urgently. She grabbed her white coat and rushed to the hospital.

In the line...

The rest of the family watched the award ceremony. They watched as uncle Mitran’s name was announced and he came forward and the President pinned the medal on his chest. Mini was sad that her aunt was not there to see this.

By the time Lakshmi aunty returned, everything was over. She was very tired and had dark circles under her eyes. She collapsed on to the sofa. “It was touch and go. At one point, we felt the mother would not make it. But we did it. Now, both the mother and child are fine.”

“Are you all right, aunty?” asked Mini.

“Yes, but I missed an important moment in my life,” replied her aunt.

“But you saved two lives. You too are a great patriot. The essence of patriotism is the sacrifice of personal interest to public welfare,” said her father-in-law proudly.

Mini beamed at her aunt with a new found admiration.

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Printable version | Jul 11, 2020 8:19:11 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/in-the-line/article30632125.ece

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