4 out of 4 stars
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“Border Post 99” is a poignant story that reminds us that the connections between individuals can be more powerful than the conflicts between governments. This is a short story that takes place in the middle of the India-Pakistan conflict but after the official Partition of the two countries.
Sharma is a young Indian man, fresh out of military school. His first posting is to Border Post 99, a spot in no-man’s land along the border with Pakistan. His biggest concern when he gets there is the isolation, it’s just him at this post for the next 6 weeks, and homesickness. He is in a heavily forested area with a stream running through it, the stream being the border. He is instructed not to shoot at the Pakistanis but don’t let anything happen as there are negotiations going on in Delhi and his superiors do not want any conflict. His post is not on any official map and officially he is not there. He receives a drop off of food and mail once a week. The first couple of days he patrols the stretch of land as instructed and nothing happens.
Khan is a seasoned military man in the Pakistan army. He has just received a posting to no-man’s land. He is not expecting anything to happen, and spends his time daydreaming about his wife and telling his superiors, on their daily calls, that everything is all right. Khan also receives a weekly care package with food and letters from home. Then the day comes when he sees someone on the other side of the stream. Khan and Sharma have spotted each other and are both hiding behind rocks with rifles pointed at the enemy. Both have been instructed not to shoot so they go on about their business. A couple of days later Khan finds Sharma unconscious from fever where he collapsed by the side of the stream. He decides not to kill him but sabotages some of his equipment. This begins a series of somewhat comical back-and-forth retaliations.
What ultimately transpires between these two men is an example of humanity winning out over hatred. I found this story to be beautifully written and well edited which made it a really fun read. Some of their actions are almost comical as Sharma, with his inexperience, and Khan, with his “I just want to get through this and go back to my wife” attitude start to interact with each other. I really enjoyed both of these characters. They were very believable and the author developed them very well.
I found this story to be inspirational and approachable for any reader. There is no questionable content so even teens and tweens could read it. I highly recommend this story for anyone who loves a good read and I’m giving it a 4 out of 4 star rating.
Border Post 99
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