Shh… Don’t ask about her Dad

Image Source – ScoopWoop

There was quite a buzz in the classroom that day.
“She fainted in the Principal Office”, my friend whispered to a group of shocked girls.
“What” “No” “Who Who”
“*Moitra Mam”
“But Why?” 
An image of tall, slim and young saree clad lady flashed in front of my eyes and of her little son tagging behind her. She used to teach the primary classes.
A few days later, news reached us that she had lost her husband – an Army Officer, in an attack by the naxalites near one of the Northeastern states border. I never saw her after the incident. This was 17 years ago.


*Risha and I were in the same batch and did most of our studies together. She was this vivacious girl, always smiling and laughing about the antics of her sister. On my first visit to her home I realised that her dad was a highly ranked police officer, whom she lost at a tender age of 13 . A group of terrorists had blown up the bridge while he was driving across it.


If I remember my childhood days correctly, kids often have a unique way of protecting their best friends, even from questions that might hurt them. They are very sensitive you see, they know words could hurt. “Don’t ask about her Dad” was a phrase often used by little kids to stop any ignorant new joiner from asking prying questions. I studied in different Army and Air Force schools across the country. And once in a while, in the lonely corridors of the school, I would end up consoling a sobbing friend missing her Dad. There is no right word, actually, there are no words that could console a tiny heart for the immense loss they suffered.

Do you remember this war cry of the daughter at her dad’s funeral. Tell me if it doesn’t rips your heart apart.

The life of men in defence services is unpredictable. They could not only lose their lives in major wars and attacks, but also while patrolling, while protecting the border in treacherous hilly terrains and scorching desserts. Imagine yourself as a young officer who along with his group climbs the steep cliffs covered in thick snow to patrol the border and while returning a massive landslide kills few of the soldiers. The soldier who in the morning made you some tea and breakfast is suddenly no more. Imagine carrying his body in a coffin to his family. To the Mom you have never met before, to the wife he would often speak about, to the daughter who doesn’t even know what is going on. 

“Don’t ask about her Dad” would how her group of little friends would try to protect her from then on.

This marching cadence makes me emotional every time I read it. You can read the full version here

Some Say Freedom is Free

Well I tend to Disagree

Some say freedom is won

Through the Barrel of a Gun

Tell me why, why o why

Did those people have to die

Tell me why, why o why

Did those families have to cry?

*Names Changed

20 thoughts on “Shh… Don’t ask about her Dad

  1. People who never faced any wars won't understand the gravity of how it is fought and how the families of those who lost someone close suffer.

    You post made me feel about them, it is a tough life at the border. Can just wish that we don't lose them.

  2. Of course the sacrifices people in the armed forces and their families make deserve respect and compssion , but extending the metaphor of impermanence to each one of us I always say only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches, we need to be sensitive to anyone who is in pain, grieving or has incurred the loss of a loved one because eventually all of us have to be in that spot too, that's life.

  3. The sacrifice made by the army personnel is unmatchable and no amount of praises or compensation can do justice to what they do and give up for the country. Kudos!

  4. WE the people are blessed to have such brave people who gave the ultimate sacrifise..

    I do wish that in india there is a rule that EVERY indian has to give 3 or 4 or 5 years of their life to the nation… IT should be compulasory maybe then people will know what it is.

    The war cry by the little girl does rip your heart.. Proud of officers like her dad ..


  5. No words to mourn the loss of the brave hearts and to console the ones they leave behind. Such a poignant piece Raj, truly the pain of delivering the 'news' to the next of kin is unimaginable. Ultimately in a war no one wins.

  6. I have immense amount of respect for men in the force. My husband's from a Army family his granddad and Uncle were Army Majors and had fought in wars of Burma, 1971 East Pakistan and Kashmir. Only when you know them from close quarters you can understand the sacrifices.

  7. You know because of the immense sacrifice these families makes sometimes I feel we are the world's worst citizens because we act as if the armed forced should protect us giving up their lives while we molly coddle with the enemy in other avenues. No one can understand the pain of the kids who end up losing their fathers on the battlefields and that's why we should respect and shower these families and even the men and women in uniform with as much respect and love as we can

  8. Beautiful .Why do people have to fight over religion and land and Women's rights ?We all will die. That's the absolute truth.But some people die for a cause .For justice,for truth ,for keeping us free from.shackles of extremism.Women probably think more about this because we still know about binding .To be free is precious.
    When you know you are right ,doing something even if it means an early death ,is sometimes the only way.My prayers for all who lose their parents to terror 😇

  9. I've always had immense respect for those in the armed forces. I cannot fathom the depth of sacrifice they and their families lay on the line for each of us. That poem ripped my heart out too, Raj. May there be no war. May we pray for a better life.

  10. Children are angels on earth, I truly believe. You are right, nothing can compensate nor mend broken hearts. But loving and kind hearts are balm to them. Loved this post Raj, and the poem at the end was beautiful.

  11. Except my Dad, all my uncles and my grandfather were in the armed forces. We didn't lose any family member but one of our neighbour's son-in-law was shot by a terrorist somewhere in Punjab. The pain is unbearable. No amount of gratitude can replace their efforts and sacrifices.

  12. I will never be able to express the amount of respect I have for those brave men. we can only hope for the day when people cease to kill out of hatred . Big salute to the soldiers.

  13. As a Naval brat myself,I completely understand what you say. Even today when I go to India Gate or see the President hand out medals of bravery, I can't hold back the tears …

  14. I am a former military wife. Am grateful my husband never was called to go into combat. But I work with several women whose sons (and, in one case, a daughter) were called into service into Afghanistan and/or Iraq. It is a terrible thing, for both the families and the service family – and hard to understand for people not in that situation. Poignant post.

Leave a Reply