4 out of 4 stars
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Border Post 99 by Kedar Patankar is a poignant story set in March 2011. It is a story describing the lives of two soldiers in a No Man’s Land between India and Pakistan. The main lesson it gives is not to yield to stereotypes. Two soldiers, Lt. Sharma from the Indian side and Captain Khan from the Pakistani side, who have a fixed idea in their minds about the other country being an enemy, find themselves emotionally connecting with each other. This emotional connect is stronger than any border tensions and bilateral enmity and breaks all their stereotypes.
In the pine forest that marks the No Man's Land along the volatile India-Pakistan border, leopards roam freely across enemy lines, instigating fear in a pair of rival soldiers who are each guarding an illegal post and trying desperately to follow the strict orders they've been given: Don't shoot. Lt. Sharma is a novice who is just out of Military Training School. He receives his first posting in Border Post 99, where he has to stay for 6 weeks and do regular patrolling. His biggest concerns there are loneliness and homesickness. On the other hand, Captain Abid Khan is a war-weary Pakistani veteran whose only desire is to be left alone with his thoughts. He also suffers from homesickness and pines to be with his grandfather and wife.
Initially, none of them is aware of each other’s presence. They both cross paths when they go to refill their water supplies and take a dip in a nearby stream, which also happens to be the border bwtween the two countries. When they see each other, both their minds are instantly filled with suspicion and hate. However, they have strict orders not to shoot since any casualty along the border, especially on a No Man’s Land, could disrupt peace talks that are underway in Delhi, the Indian capital. Since they are not permitted to shoot, they vent their frustration on each other by playing pranks; some of which include stuffing bullets with earthworms, hanging from a rope attached to a tree, making the enemy fall into a deep pit that has quicksand at the bottom.
This battle of egos and wits seems to be endless when suddenly the peace talks are suspended without any satisfactory result. This means that Sharma’s seniors want to attack the Pakistani post and kill Captain Khan. However, by this time, Sharma and Khan have begun to emotionally connect and they discover that they have a lot in common, including the village to which they belonged pre-independence. Will Sharma follow orders and help kill Khan? Or will the connection between them prevent Sharma from following orders? All this makes up the rest of the story.
I really liked the book since it is quite humorous and provides an interesting read. It is quite concise and to the point, without any useless information. The message is simple yet powerful: Sometimes humanity can prove to be a bigger force than hatred. The book was very well edited and I did not find any grammatical errors in the book.
I rate Border Post 99 by Kedar Patankar 4 out of 4 stars. It is a very interesting book and will provide a good read for readers of any age or nationality. This is a must-read for anyone who likes short yet amazing stories.
Border Post 99
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