Lying in the bunker, he nodded off listening to sounds of gunfire and explosions outside. He didn't knew how much time had passed since he had passed out. All he knew in his confused and drugged mind was that something had changed. Lying on his back as Hariom had left him, he tried to ascertain what had happened. It was not the pain which was nothing more than a throbbing dull ache that started from his injured shoulder and spread like waves through his body. He tried moving his arm but it was still immobile. He tried to sit up but was overcome by giddiness and immediately dropped back. Cursing the Paki soldier that had shot him he lie still for a moment. Then it hit him.
Firing had stopped !
The loud bangs of grenade explosions and bullets was now replaced by and the sounds of distant men talking amongst themselves. He strained his ears to listen but was unable to hear anything intelligible. What had happened while he had passed out ?
Had Indians beaten off the Paki attack ? If so, why no body had come to check on the injured ? He looked around to take stock of his surroundings. Only source of any light was a battery powered light lying on a box in the distant corner. By it's light he could make up the shapes of other injured soldiers lying besides him. All of them had received painkiller shots and were either unconscious or sleeping. There was nobody else.
What if Pakis had over run the post ? A cold shiver ran through his spine at the thought. That was entirely possible they way they were attacking and would have done so within minutes unless Indian reinforcements arrived. Even without knowing the time, he knew that reinforcements promised by Col. Saha should've been there by the time he was shot. Were they too late coming to aid of their comrades ?
His panicked thoughts were interrupted by sounds of footsteps coming towards the bunker. He propped himself on his uninjured arm and strained his ears to listen. By the sounds, he realised there were 3 men walking on the path outside the bunker and would be inside in a minute. A cold sweat broke over him. What if these men were Paki soldiers intent on killing the wounded ? Or worse capturing and then torturing. Pakis are not exactly famous for humane treatment of prisoners of war. Capture was going to be much worse than death. He tried to raise the soldier lying closest to him, but he had suffered a head wound and a broken arm and was administered a generous morphine shot. He didn't move a bit even when Subhranjan kicked him. By this time, sound of footsteps was even closer.
Swearing under his breath, he abandoned the idea of trying to wake up any other soldier and started looking for a weapon. Using all of his will power he forced himself to get up and walked unsteadily towards the pile of boxes near the light. He still couldn't move his injured right arm and opened the lid with his other hand. Instead of any weapon, the box contained rock climbing gear. Cursing his luck again, he attempted to open other box when somebody turned the door handle. For a moment Subhranjan froze to the spot, remembering that he had forgotten to lock the door from inside. Now nothing could stop them from getting in. In desperation he lunged to the box he had opened previously and grabbed a small rock climbing hammer lying inside and turned off the light plunging the bunker in complete darkness. He felt the hammer in his hands. It was barely 11 inches in length and weighed a kilogram at most. Now the door was opened and Subhranjan stuck himself to the wall besides it as it opened. A streak of light entered the bunker through open door and 3 men entered inside one by one. His heart wildly beating he raised the puny hammer in his left hand and waited. One of the three men lit a torch and started walking towards the injured Indians while the others stood back. Subhranjan slowly walked out from behind the door, his left hand raised and sneaked up to the backs of two men, intending to knock them down with the hammer. There was no way in hell he could be able to take them all but it was much better to die fighting than being captured alive by Pakis. He reached within an arms length of the the two men and steeled himself to strike. Just then, voice of a puzzled Hariom startled him, "Where the hell is Lt. ? I left him right here !."
Waves of relief rolled down Subhranjan's body on hearing the medic's voice. He wanted to shout with joy, but could only manage a stifled croak, “Hariom ! Is that you? You frigging son of a bitch ! “
A startled Hariom moved the flashlight towards source of the voice and nearly screamed when he saw a wild faced Shubhranjan waving the hammer dangerously behind the other two soldiers. To his credit, he controlled himself and said in a comparatively calmer voice, “ Drop the hammer sir. It's us. We've beaten back the Pakis.”
Subhranjan dropped the hammer and promptly plumped down on his ass, “That I've managed to figure out myself.”
“Uh..then why this hammer sir” ? One of the soldiers that had come too close to getting his skull split at the hands of the Lt. Asked with some trepidation.
“Oh, that! I was just playing safe. Just in case.” Subhranjan managed this with a perfectly straight face. “Leave all this. Tell me what happened while I was here.”
“Reinforcements arrived within 5 minutes of me leaving you here. Subedar Major Salathia arrived just in nick of time with 20 men and kicked the hell out of enemy. We had to stop him from chasing fleeing Pakis down the mountain. You should've seen it from your own eyes. It was a sight to remember.” Hariom flashed one of his very rare grins.
“Where is he now ?”
“He is still outside, standing guard along with rest of men against a possible counter-attack. But I doubt it'll happen any time soon. Pakis have suffered too many causalities to mount another attack.”
“Did we lose any more of our men ?” Subhranjan asked with some disquiet.
“Thankfully no. Five more soldiers did suffer shrapnel and bullet wounds but none of them serious. Just the same, a Dhruv will arrive at dawn to evacuate the wounded and the dead. Additionally an UAV will be in air within 20 minutes. You can rest easy now.”
Subhranjan let out a sigh of relief and relaxed. Suddenly he started feeling too tired to even sit up and he lay down on his back thanking his stars.