Soldier blues

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- Rishi Ram Paudyal

Feb 25, 2015-

When I read the poem entitled Letter from Foreign Grave by DB Gurung, it moved me. The reason I was moved was not the structure of the poem or its style, but the reality that many Nepali young boys are striving to join the British Gurkhas. What they seem to be attracted to is the money and the title of Gurkha. For this, they become ready to serve under the British flag and be loyal even till death. With the burning desire to join the army, a significant number of boys start joining training centres by paying a lot of money. A training centre normally charges Rs 40,000 just for the foundational training. For other facilities like swimming, they charge extra. There is already a huge investment of time, money and energy before one becomes lucky enough to be selected for the British Gurkhas out of several thousand competitors.

Some young boys go straight for training after high school and others after completion or during their plus two education. Once these young boys begin their basic training, they fall into a kind of trap of Lahure mania. If they don’t make it to the British Army, they want to join the Singapore Police. If they don’t make it there either, they strive to join the Indian Army. Unfortunately, for most of these young boys, joining the Nepal Army is not their first choice. Their desire to join foreign forces is due to none other than good salary and other benefits. The parents of these youths also see none other than that. There is a saying money makes the world go round. This is not entirely true. There are a lot of things money cannot buy such as love and happiness. It cannot even save people’s lives during critical times. Of course, with money, one can get treatment, but if the person is suffering from an incurable disease, what can money do? Nothing. Money can be helpless. But who is going to reason with it? Who would have time to think that way?

For those who still think money is everything, and for those who are thinking of joining a foreign force, I would like to urge them to read the poem Letter from Foreign Grave. Pursuing money can be meaningless and regrettable. In the poem’s last stanza, a dead Nepali soldier writes to his mother that he regrets not being able to repay the milk that he suckled at her breast and having to die for the cause of others in a war of no glory. Further, he urges his mother saying, “Weep not for me any more, but ruminate for those living whose wars are now to be feared about”. You should think twice before deciding to serve a foreign army. There won’t be much pride in fighting a war of no glory and leaving your mother in tears.

Published: 26-02-2015 06:23

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