Homecoming: A Story by Lakshmi Ajoy

Twenty-two years, three hundred and sixty two days had passed as I finally managed to escape the deadly clutches of the enemy camp as their prisoners of war. Serving the nation as an Army major, love for the nation was etched in my blood.
My ageing parents and charming wife were my only family back home. Today, as I aspired to return home from the deadly enemy camp, I was unsure if they will recognise me. I was fearful if my parents still walked in their physical bodies. I was insecure if my wife would have left me to marry someone else. I was irresolute of my very purpose of returning home.
But, the fragrance of petrichor on my motherland is my biggest stimulation. The soil of my land is a fertile dose for my senses and my Soul.
It was the twenty-fourth of June in the year 1999. I was fighting the Kargil war and leading my team from the front. Our camp was clear of all possible attacks and hence we were relatively relaxed, though alert.
Exactly at 02:22hours, when the camp mates were taking turns to keep watch, an unexpected attack was launched. The enemy duped us by emulating our uniforms and pretending to be one amongst us.
The result was a terrified counterattack by our team lead by me, Major Rajveer Singh Arora.
Despite severe resistance and a fierce response, three of our team mates including me were taken by the enemies as prisoners of war.
The purpose was not to kill us but to extract internal information about our strategic planning and management systems to help build their own counter attack plans.
But true to our life as soldiers of the Indian army, our secrets were to remain with us till the grave.
Two decades of extreme brutality inflicted, with thorny shackles binding our limbs, bland food and sewage water that were offered made it almost impossible to even have the desire to survive.
Everyday, we inched closer to death and awaited a final call from the Divine Mercy.
A daily routine of severe questioning followed by acute bashing until blood trickled down from varied body parts made us helpless. Thorned manacles tugged our skin in their clutches and drank our oozing blood until they dried up.
Every effort to get facts out worked a failure.
One kind old mortal from the gang took pity on us and decided to set us free. It was way past midnight and the camp lights were dimmed. With the shackles loosened up due to severe inch loss, the limbs managed to slip out with little effort.
As we managed to flee, the aged mortal pretended to overlook and let us escape their deadly grips.
As I first set foot on the Motherland after decades, the abominable hatred for the enemies faded as a fresh breeze of love surged me towards freedom. It was homecoming. My dutiful consort welcomed me with tears of joy.