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The Soldier

From the Album India

They say he was a soldier
Though you never would have guessed
A gentler hand you’ll never find
Or a soul that’s quite so blessed
Those who tried to harm him
Were disarmed with just a smile
Those who sat beside him
Would stay for a while

Though many years have long since passed
Memories come flooding back
Dreams with no respect for time
Keep him under attack
So many lives he’s taken
Though never with a choice
No matter whether friend or foe
They all have the same voice

But the greatest fight of fifty years
Was fought with paper and bitter tears
To claim for what he rightly owned
From those who live inside his home.

Who’ll give him back those wasted years
When he fought for what was his?
How could we take all we could take
When he gave all he could give
Even now he would lay down his life
To do what must be done
How could we have forsake him
Leave him to fight while we run

They say that even now at times
He has a look that instils fear
The strongest men will look away
If bad intentions become clear
They say he was Gurkha
The bravest of the brave
I say I owe my life to him
And my father who he saved


I don’t know what the opposite of turning in his grave is, but whatever it is, that is what my father will be doing when he hears this song.
Old soldiers generally fall into the don’t want to talk about it or never stop talking about it category, and my father was definitely in the latter group. I was always fascinated by his stories and in particular when he talked about the Gurkhas. He told me about their extraordinary bravery and said there was no doubt he would not have survived the war without them. He was appalled at how badly they had been treated by successive governments, and even when they won long-standing court battles, they were still cheated out of their rights.
When my father died, I found an envelope containing his last wishes. He wanted me to hire a van to save the expense of a hearse, and wanted a coffin made of cardboard, carried by Gurkhas. Typical of my father, along with these wishes, he also said if I was unwilling or unable to carry out any of his wishes, that was perfectly alright. It was just as well, as the only thing I managed was the carboard coffin which ironically cost more than a wooden one. I did contact the Gurkha Brigade Association, but they were unable to help.