4 out of 4 stars
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Border Post 99 is a mysterious place where no man dares venture. Seemingly a remote landmark on the borders between India and Pakistan, Post 99 is characterized by a small patch of forest, but no action from the war. No shells or spurts of gun fire resound off the landscape. The dirt holds no tracks of Humvees or military vehicles. No soldiers make their presence known here.
That is, until now. Lieutenant Mangesh Sharma is an Indian soldier charged with manning Post 99. Alone. He will check in every so often with his commanding officer via radio, but otherwise he is ordered to only patrol his station; to incite action from the other side, without being provoked, would incur tremendous consequences. Armed, but cautioned against reckless behavior, Sharma begins his stay at Border Post 99.
Captain Abid Khan misses his Soha. She is all that he can think about, since his assignment at Border Post 99 is, so far, boringly uneventful. Guarding his country of Pakistan is a cause he supports, but the letters he receives from back home invite home sickness. Only when Khan visits the forest stream does he realize he is not alone. And so begins the most curious war ever fought on the border of two warring lands, by naught but two soldiers.
Border Post 99 is a succinct but satisfyingly suspenseful tale of two men bound to a duty that neither of them feels comfortable fulfilling. Sharma and Khan will tangle in ways beyond what they can imagine. Readers will learn to consider them more than their guns as the stories of their youth and ambitions come to the fore. The characterization in this short tale is superb and the pacing and action take place just as they should. To read Border Post 99 is to live the moments of these two men as they struggle to adapt to their opponent while awaiting reassignment. For two men who are less-than-invested in the war, Khan and Sharma certainly know how to outgun the competition!
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. Border Post 99 read rather quickly, due to the fast pacing and incredible tension elicited by the plot. Kedar Patankar does an incredible job of characterizing these two men in a memorable way without relying on stereotypes or typical techniques. Readers learn about Sharma and Khan through thoughts of their families and what they miss most back home. The interplay between both characters is funny, witty, and oftentimes dangerous, as might be expected. The ending will leave you yearning for more, even as satisfying as it feels.
I highly recommend Border Post 99 by Kedar Patankar, for readers of all ages. Not your typical war story, this book forces you to look at war through another’s eyes, all the while grappling with your own self-preservation. Whether it’s your war or not, Border Post 99 will have you jumping at the chance to join in, if only to save your favorite character.
Border Post 99
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