4 out of 4 stars
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Border post 99: No man’s land is a novel by Kedar Patankar. It was published by Global Mind Publishing. Human conflict is like the proverbial serpent that is eats its own tail; in the process of eliminating a problem within our society through warfare it only serves to destroy us. This is properly captured in the phrase by Dadajaal, “…never delve into hatred and anger…you will be wasting your time and hurting your mind.” The fictional story about love and hate is set in March 2011.
The tale is about 2 soldiers; a Pakistani and an Indian based in illegal border posts in no man's land. Lieutenant Mangesh Sharma is a fresh recruit from the Indian Military Academy. His first posting is in a remote region in no man’s land between India’s Jammu and Pakistan’s Kashmir, dubbed Border Post 99. He initially hates the assignment due to the remoteness of the region and the compounded danger of being alone in case of an enemy attack. He lives in a constant state of vigilance driven by prejudices against his enemy. He finds peace after a while and even begins to enjoy the serenity of the place.
Captain Abid Khan is a relatively more experienced Pakistani soldier. He has served for 9 years and had several postings in a multitude of terrain and is now weary of conflict. He takes his posting more positively as a chance to relax and reflect. His peace is however disturbed when the 2 soldiers meet at a stream separating the two territories. The immediate tension between them is evident by how they react to each other. Driven by their prejudices, they cautiously engage each other over a period of weeks in mock prank attacks as direct confrontation is prohibited by a cease-fire order by their respective superiors. The pranks progressively rise in intensity, from fouling pistols to ingenious life threatening traps. In the course of these games, they come to find out about their secret ties; which include Sharma’s hometown in India. However, their new found appreciation of each other is tested when the Indian military chooses to attack the Pakistani base.
This book touched on classical concepts of warfare; hatred and prejudice. The author weaves a humorous tale on how the 2 soldiers treat each other with contempt borne out of years of prejudice. How the two come to terms and finally cooperate was a great plot twist. Allowing the author’s message to be clearly conveyed; that love trumps over hated and prejudice is always driven by baseless fears.
I would rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. It was a short and easy read, the message was concise and thought provoking and can be used as a guide in calming tensions especially between spiteful neighbors, like India and Pakistan, who have a common ancestry. I agreed with this message fully and the interesting story. I would recommend this book to everyone other than the most sensitive of readers or children as there’s quite some cursing involved. There were no grammar errors worth noting.
Border Post 99
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