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The Kargil Girl: An autobiography by Flt Lt Gunjan Saxena (retd) with Kiran Nirvan

Publisher: Penguin Random House India
Pages: 225
Price: Rs. 299 INR(Paperback), Rs. 188 INR(Kindle Edition)
ISBN: 978–0143451068
Buy here: https://amzn.to/3lVRLV2

My take on the book:

The Kargil Girl is the autobiography of Flt Lt Gunjan Saxena – as the name suggests who was popularly known as the Kargil Girl for her exemplary contributions during the Kargil War. Gunjan has narrated her story starting from the time she received a call letter for the SSB(Services Selection Board), how she went through the selection process, and ultimately got recommendation among all the girls who appeared. 

While describing the various rounds of the exam and how she approached it, Gunjan keeps going back in time, starting from her days as toddler till her high school days, with an analogy of how her childhood events and lessons learnt from them helped her when in need of motivation. She also recounts the life lessons imparted by her parents — the very loving and supportive duo they were while being strict as need be. 

Her days as trainee cadet are filled with adventure along with rigorous training as she gets ready for the future assignments. Her successful passing out while topping her batch with multiple awards is awe inspiring. The much awaited Kargil war and her role during it on recce missions is the highlight of the book as Gunjan jots down her memories from the middle of the war — the missions that required precision without a single glitch along the LoC, racing against time and extreme weather conditions in those valleys, and following orders rather than logic. The author also keeps the narrative of the war real by bringing on the humane side and the trauma that accompanies irrespective of the victory.

The book starts in a breezy way and I could personally relate to a lot of Gunjan’s childhood as well as her experiences and approach during the SSB exam to my own job interview. While the world knows her as the Kargil girl, this book also gives a sneak peek into the naughty side of Gunjan during her childhood. The jargon during the qualifying exam and training keep the narrative authentic. The immense support from her family which molded her to be the person she became in future is described well. As the author points at multiple occasions, her story has a strong message of how dealing with each situation in the best possible way spontaneously will ultimately contribute to the success of a person. 

Since the movie based on this book came out first, I did watch it earlier than reading this story, so would like to reiterate, both are similar while being diverse because movie as a creative medium is the director’s way of portraying the story. Leaving that aside, this book makes for an important read as it narrates the life and experiences of the Indian Airforce woman officer who went to war, who chose this niche profession more than two decades back and has set an inspiring example for many young girls. I personally did not want the story to end and wanted to read more of her experiences. 

My rating: