It's been a week since an Indian soldier was beheaded and another murdered by Pakistani perpetrators. Rumbles of revenge in a disciplined force such as the army, cries of the humiliated family, voices of angry citizens, shouts of right-wingers and the cacophony of politicians have failed to rouse the head of the Indian state to act.
Prime minister Manmohan Singh, supposedly the most powerful man in our country, is seldom heard but now his silence is growing deafening. First, it was December's gangrape when the prime minister took a week to find his voice after a national outcry for justice. Now, a week after the January 8 murder of two soldiers, all he has come up with is an offer to send national security adviser Shiv Shankar Menon to brief leaders of the opposition in the two Houses on the situation at the Line of Control.
But what about us, the people of India, Mr Singh? Who will assuage our hurt? Who will talk to us? Who will listen to us? Who will lead us?
Perhaps, Mr Singh knows we are a disillusioned, and now a disgraced, lot. He knows we are on the line ourselves, tenaciously holding on to survive the cold treatment. But for how long are we expected to vent our ire by laughing at news spoofs at the cost of the head of our state and then move on?
These are grim times for the leaders and the led.
Army chief General Bikram Singh put up a brave face when he addressed the press conference on the eve of Army Day. With little left to celebrate, he did talk tough but didn't cross the line of control. He said that he expected his commanders at the Line of Control to be aggressive and told Pakistan that India would give a fitting reply "at a place and time of our choosing".
Pakistan is used to such rhetoric by now. So is India. We, the people, know that we are a headless state and may remain so till 2014 when we get a chance to be heard.
Till then our tragedy is that we can't even hang our heads in shame.
Meanwhile, we will mourn with Dharamwati, the 28-year-old bereaved wife of Lance Naik Hemraj Singh, and their three children, for the head of the family. Politicians will not let us fast for an empty stomach ruffles them more than anything else in the media glare. They will divide us, entice us with job offers and monetary packages. There will be sympathy till the spotlight shifts to the next breaking news.
There is a sense of déjà vu as we soldier on on the line of control, hoping the leader in us will stand up and find a voice. Till then, we hope the unknown soldier does not become a forgotten casualty.
The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org