A tribute to my cousin, a brave soldier

Published: December 9, 2011
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A Nato attack on the Pakistani check post in Salala left 24 soldiers dead and 12 injured. Normally, these figures are mere numbers to me; with the war on terror, so many people die everyday that I am a bit desensitized about news of death.

On November 26, 2011, the otherwise meaningless number of those killed held all the meaning in the world to me. You see, amongst the 24 dead was my dear bhai.  My dear cousin Captain Usman Ali died in this unprovoked attack by Nato forces.

As I reflect on the transience of life, everything Usman bhai ever said to me keeps playing like a reel in my head. I often used to wonder how a person could be as good-natured and kind-hearted as him. Now, I know that it was because he was the chosen one; he had very little time on this earth so he gave people so much love in his 23 years that they could live the rest of their lives with the memories of it.

When he got the transfer orders for Bajaur Agency, we were all very worried about him and tried to disaude him from going. But he was unmoved by our requests and tears. Maintaining his soldier-like stance, he said to us:

“I am in the Army to protect my country, not to just sit in the Cantt and enjoy myself.”

Later, he got transferred to Mohmand Agency where he fought valiantly in the operations against militants and helped re-establish control in that area. When he was at home on leave due to an appendix operation, he learnt of the death of fellow soldiers in an operation in the agency; never have I seen him so ill at ease. Not only did Usman bhai feel guilty for not being there and fighting with them, but he was increasingly flustered. He kept repeating:

“What am I doing here while my fellow comrades are dying?”

He was a brave and dedicated man. In addition to being an extraordinary soldier, he was also an amazing human being. Usman bhai  is a role model for many people, myself included. He also had the ability of seeing only the good in others; he praised people when they were down; he made them feel good when they needed a morale boost.

I can’t remember a single moment when he was cruel to anyone or a time when he misbehaved. A lady who met my cousin only once told us that she used to say to her children:

“If you want to learn manners and etiquette, learn them from Usman”

That’s just how he was.

When he once told us about his friend Captain Farhan Shaheed, Usman bhai had said with tears in his eyes that he was one of a kind. Today, I want to tell him that he too was one of a kind.

Ambreen.ejaz

Ambreen Ejaz

An MSc part 1 student from Sahiwal who's interests are books,military, and politics. She tweets @ProudPakistanii

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