Tête-à-tête Visited my dad last night over steaming coffee, Knowing that I skip the TV And the

newspapers He fills up his son With the news Especially the ones On anything relating To the men in uniform He tells me that Over 135 Pakistani soldiers Got buried in an avalanche At the Siachen Glacier And I feel my heart sink And today our appointed fools Snuggle up for tête-à-tête The visitor visits the dargah Seeking perhaps personal gratifications Or Solace! It is not that Now I am not in uniform That I feel for the deaths Of the uniformed enemy I have no nightmares Of the men I have killed In hand to hand combat For they were terrorists But my heart burns To see honourable men Being buried in snow A white death That leaves a black void In hundreds of families This side or across Seems so irrelevant

Decades now since Honourable Men on this side and across, Stand sentinel On the highest battlefield of the world Who gains from this colossal loss of life? Decades of losses on both sides Thousands dead, Thousands maimed for life Loss of limbs, Loss of lives Statistics never surmise The cost of keeping the flags high The pain of loss of lives And today our appointed fools Snuggle up for tête-à-tête As they and their predecessors have done before A hundred times before Who gains from this fight? Who gains from this stand off? Probably arms dealers on both sides! As an ex- military man The strategic value of the Siachen glacier Is not lost on me But the prohibitive human cost Nah! There must be a way A common ground These bumbling appointed fools must find To ensure there is least loss of life The way I see it May be since I am from the old school To die or to kill the enemy By the bullet is okay But to see honourable men Fall to calamities, Singes my heart!

It is like An enemy brother has been cheated Of death by honour What will their families have to say? Swallowed by ice Is that the way a solider must die? There must be some common ground Apart from cricket and Bollywood songs And cross border marriages And export-import! Nay! Nay! Nay! Call a child over from across Let him sit for Tête-à-tête With one of ours Fuck the maps And the markers Give them crayons And a blank page To draw out and Settle the differences Of history And let us move on Forward! Shyam 8th April 2012

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