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Letters from Kargil: A Soldier’s Daughter ushers the reader into an Intimate Glimpse into a Frontline Soldier’s Heart as Told Through his Letters.

The 1999 Kargil war altered Ind-Pak relations forever. We know this; we lived it through news media and disappearance of those near and dear. This novel is not a story about politics or nationalism. Diksha Dwivedi’s book is a glimpse into the inner workings of a soldier’s mind, and the effect wars have on families.

 

Facts and semantics of the 1999 war were, and continue to be, narrated by the media, who are often interested in the bigger picture and eye-catching headlines. In this rush to know body counts and playing the blame game, overlooked are the hundreds of families left to mourn their spouses, children, and parents.

 

The book pulls a reader in from page one.

“This was the last time we were going to be able to feel his skin, see his face. I couldn’t go close to him. As soon as the plastic sheet around him was unwrapped, I glimpsed his face from afar. It was covered in white powder, which made him look ghostly. Terrified, I ran to another room. That’s the last memory I have of seeing my valiant father, my hero. I didn’t salute him; I didn’t try to stop him from being taken away; I simply found an escape,” begins Diksha, whose father Major Chandra Bhushan Dwivedi, an artillery officer with the 315 Field Regiment, was killed in during the Kargil War.

Facts and semantics of the 1999 war were, and continue to be, narrated by the media, who are often interested in the bigger picture and eye-catching headlines. In this rush to know body counts and playing the blame game, overlooked are the hundreds of families left to mourn their spouses, children, and parents.

This book is the story of a young girl, recounting her last moments spent with her father, an amount of time which seemed ordinary until it was too late. In Letters from Kargil, the author reproduces personal letters from her father and letters to other faujis’ close friends and families. The vulnerability in their communications, the decision to reveal private details gives a unique insight into the thoughts of brave soldiers who lost their lives protecting their country.

What must it be like for a soldier to comfort their loved ones, while knowing, most certainly, that their every breath is numbered? In between the retelling of the war, Diksha gives out details of the lifestyles that the brave soldiers had been leading, and the emotional impact the war was having on them.

 

It’s a sombre atmosphere, but an unassuming story — the author’s emotion, angst, and experiences are narrated directly in that way in which truth usually is.

 

Diksha’s book is a tear-jerker and a heart-warming read. It’s one thing to know media-spread details of an important war, but to experience through a martyr’s own words, what it takes to be a real hero in every sense of the word, is a journey well worth taking through the pages.

It’s a sombre atmosphere, but an unassuming story — the author’s emotion, angst, and experiences are narrated directly in that way in which truth usually is. The writing is not extravagant nor complicated. Reading poignant nerve racking letters sent by one’s father, a person close to most women’s hearts is a brave act.

Her decision to reveal these intimates moments, after the untimely death of a loved one, is a very emotionally charged and hard-hitting moment. These moments, this reviewer felt were buried and left me wanting to know. A further exploration of Diksha’s life after her father’s death and their relationship before his deployment would have been welcome.

 

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What one expects after reading Letters From Kargil is an account of how things went down during the terrible moment and heart-breaking news of her family patriarch’s death. This reviewer can only imagine that she faced a lot more soul-stirring incidents and struggles. Here, the book glosses over the aftermath of her father’s death and its impact on her family and life. Without this, the dialogue between the author and a reader felt incomplete.

The details that she does reveal are mind-boggling. One such scene talks about how soldiers are told to leave a letter for their closed ones in case they do not return from the field.

The combination of the author’s experience through wartime weaved with the letters belonging to all the other martyrs makes a mark on the reader. The reality highlighted by the author in the book is a raw and emotional rollercoaster of feelings that was profoundly moving.

 

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LETTERS FROM KARGIL IS AVAILABLE ON AMAZON AND PRICED AT RS 180.
PHOTO CREDIT: LETTERS FROM KARGIL’S COVER

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