Sitakant Mahapatra of 1961 IAS batch,Orissa cadre
He carried in his breast pocket,
when he went, many things.
From his mother,a packet
of sacred nirmalya rice,
a small,framed photo of Jagannath.
And from their garden, in a handbag,
eight half-ripe mangoes and ten pieces
of cheese-molasses rice-cakes his mother
had stayed up late making for him.
He kept also in his breast pocket,
two treasured pictures of Sumitra
long-haired and dreamy-eyed before
their marriage and of Sonali on his lap.
He took as well Sumitra's kiss,planted
stealthily as a lighting strike on his cheek,
and from inexperienced Sonali, after
much persuasion and a KitKat bribe.
a shy kiss too---both warm until he reached Kargil.
He carried countless sobs in his breast
and suppressed tears, till their faces
disappeared like stars in the distant sky.
He returned in a wooden box
covered with a Tricolour, eyes closed,
cheeks ice-cold, face pale as dried flowers.
This time he carried nothing, not
chocolates for Sonali, nor toys, nor clothes;
nor a sari for Sumitra, nor a shawl
or eye-glasses for his mother.
He returned empty-handed. Like a bird,
sinless, but struck by a lethal arrow, he
circled and in a plane plummeted
to the ground, to Sumitra and Sonali
on his birthday.
---Taken from the edited "Memoirs" of the 1961 batch of All-India and Central Services officers who completed 50 years since we joined the service in May-June,1961