In 2016, I completed the last of five active service tours of Afghanistan with the British Army. As a soldier in the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Gurkha Rifles, I was in the front line of the fighting in Helmand Province between 2006 and 2014. I was also, in 2016, deployed in the Afghan capital, Kabul. On dangerous resupply missions and offensive patrols, we Gurkhas came under frequent attack from Taliban fighters and other insurgents.
None of us will ever forget what we went through together. It formed a bond of brotherhood that nothing and no one can break – and I tell the story of it here in Gurkha Brotherhood. The book is my personal story about what it was like to serve worldwide, including those five active tours in Afghanistan. It is about what I felt, and what we had done and gone through while we were fighting behind the enemies’ lines as a brotherhood.
I often thought I would not see the sun rising the following morning; that I was not going to escape from the death traps. We fought back with desperate determination, courage and fearlessness, and most of us survived and escaped.
When I returned home it was not to Nepal, the mountainous country in faraway South Asia where we Gurkhas grew up. It was to the UK – to Folkestone in Kent. I am a man with two homes. I hold both countries dear in my heart.
My childhood home was very different from the modern military quarters in the UK. It was built of mud and stone on the steep slope of a Himalayan valley. Its walls were brightly painted and sweet-smelling flowers grew around it. We had no electricity, no television, no modern gadgets at all. My mother cooked on an open fire and it was one of my jobs as a kid to collect dry firewood from the forest.
Even as a child I was no stranger to danger and death
I have a memory that still makes me feel guilty: of my mother in tears because the firewood I had collected that day was damp and would not light.