I walked past the busy streets near the Midland Colony on NH-39 to confront the gates of the Kohima War Cemetery. There was an eerie silence in the air, a gentle whisper of the winds into my ears, as if they spoke something of this place, about the heroes who chose to fight Against the Odds– and became eternal.
You can only die once, to make sure it’s worth it- Vladimir Kamarisky
Through the Kohima War Cemetery Gates
The somewhat crowded streets of Kohima town keeps busy with its daily routine. Day begins like usual here as the people prepare to open their shops, the taxis await their new passengers and the children prepare for their school. Someone silently watches over them, from the corner of the street. The spirits of the heroes that fall for one purpose- Freedom!!!!
For those of us who have never witnessed battle, it is just an imagination, unexplained and often misunderstood. But for those who live through the tempest, their life is never the same again. It requires raw courage for sacrifice, a price not all dare to pay!!
Entering through the gates of Kohima War Cemetery, I confronted the stone cenotaph, which explained in few words the true essence of sacrifice..I looked around to notice thousands of such cremations around. (This cemetery has 1420 Commonwealth Burials of the WW-II. Source)
I chose a shady tree near the tennis court and sat down here for some time. A spectacular view of the horizon confronted me today, which otherwise was a billow of smoke, dust, rubble and pile in the past, with the aftermath of war. Today, small pink roses rested on the graves and their fragrance filled the air.
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About a 1000 Indian Soldiers fought a fierce battle to thwart the Japanese Invasion here, what culminated with a gruesome fist fight. What kept them going, I thought! Love for their family, for their nation or just the spur of the moment! Today at the upper end of the cemetery, stands a memorial that revives their sacrifice and bravery, known as the Kohima Cremation Memorial. Another memorial is in the lower part of the cemetery and is dedicated to the 2nd Division.
The ‘Battle of Attrition’, as the battle of Kohima was also referred to, claimed more than 50000 lives in the gruesome hand-to-hand combat. Out of 85000 soldiers, only 20000 survived to tell the story.
Today visitors travelling to this side of the country have the Kohima War Cemetery on their must watch sights. I met a traveler couple on my trip to Guwahati from Dimapur who shared his experiences as we spoke on the flight. He traveled to Kohima for the first time, though he was aware of Kohima War Cemetery already. He mentioned:
My heart went out for all those heroes as I saw their cremations at the Kohima War Cemetery. Today I realize, how far they went from their own homes, just to keep us safe!