A few months ago, I was informed by my hubby that an important letter would be fetching up… Weeks passed and finally 29 May 2024 was the chosen date for it to make an appearance. My mother called out to me that there was an official letter for Sanjeev that had been handed over by the postman and so I made my way down to have a look-see.

On closer inspection I noticed a rather tattered and sad-looking brown envelope addressed to Sanjeev. My intrigue turned to horror when I noticed that the envelope had been torn and re-enforced by staples put haphazardly across it and with brown tape stuck around the edges with ‘Punjab Postal Circle’ stamped all over it. I noticed the Ministry of Defence stamp at the bottom and pulled out the letter after freeing it from its shackles, which by the way was also torn around the edges and as disheveled as the envelope.

I shook the flimsy letter open and peered into the envelope, looking for the ‘pièce de résistance’ that should have made an appearance by now. Alas, there was nothing inside and in disgust I announced, “The medals have been stolen!” I was livid that some idiot had the gall to swipe the well-earned medals of a soldier. How could someone stoop to that level and what would they do with them? Sell them or wear them? My blood was boiling by then and I called my husband and narrated the incident…the expletives at the other end were in sync with mine.

My husband asked me to take pictures of the paraphernalia spread out on the dining table so that he could shoot out some letters to headquarters and lodge a formal complaint with the India Post. Meanwhile, I reminisced of the time last year in London when we had met the surgeon who Sanjeev had trained under some decades ago. It had been absolutely wonderful connecting with the legend and his better half. That was the time when Colonel Batura had mentioned to Sanjeev how he had been writing letters to the MOD for years for his medals without any response. Sanjeev promised to hasten the process once back in India and a few months later (thankfully not years) we did receive the much awaited letter, but with an anticlimax.

My first thought was as to how were we going to explain to Col Batura that we were still floundering with dishonesty and corruption at every level here. My mother then had an idea which was not met with much enthusiasm but she sent off Govind with Sukhdev to the local post office to lodge a complaint. In a few minutes they called and said that the postmaster had the suggestion that he would return the letter to the address that it was sent from mentioning that we hadn’t accepted the torn item.

I hemmed and hawed and even asked the hubby if it was worth it. I had a word with the postmaster in the interim and I was quite firm in my belief that the medals had been pinched. He then confessed that he had received the letter all torn and that it was he who had put the staples on the letter. That is when my antennae went up and I asked him how could he deliver such a letter knowing that it was all torn, and he should have pointed it out at the time of delivery. I found his answers suspect and full of tales being spun around.

Govind returned quite crestfallen but within minutes had a call from the postmaster asking him to return to the post office. Naturally, Govind apprised me of the call and in turn I spoke to the post master again who said by some miracle he had traced the bag that could have the said medals??!! Holy smoke…in a flash of a moment we had the medals making an appearance. The saga of the letter, bags, torn envelopes, missing medals naturally had my brains swirling with a number of questions for the man with the stapler who had no practical answers!

Putting up an appearance of being calm I told the postmaster that the boys would eat their lunch and return but in the meantime if he could widen the search for the medals. “No madam, send them now, as the medals are about to reach me.” Nothing beats the appearance of a ‘red’ letter day out of the ‘blue’!

I ought to mention here that the local postal services and I have a history…about two years ago I had filed a complaint with the Superintendent of Post Offices against a very rude and obnoxious postman who harassed me unnecessarily in delivering my passport. My complaint had been looked at and resolved speedily much to the chagrin of the local post office. They had been caught on the back foot and knew they had done wrong. I am certain they haven’t forgotten this incident and therefore the post master at this time was extra sweet with a ‘sugar wouldn’t melt in his mouth’ attitude.

As expected, Govind and Sukhdev returned in minutes, looking rather pleased after the second trip… Voilà! On display, the shining medals sparkled in all their glory and the tattered envelope looked a shade better too!

Would the weight of these medals weigh on the conscience of the culprit who had pilfered them (unsuccessfully) I wonder?? The ‘Siachen Glacier’ and the ’20 Years Long Service’ medals are earned with pride – Always!