Being a soldier

As a young kid, I remember being asked by my relatives, teachers and basically everybody who was old enough to be out of my friend circle,” What do you want to be when you become an adult”. First time when this question was asked, my immediate response was “A Truck Driver”. Somehow as a young kid I was always fascinated by trucks. And I wanted to own one and drive one. With every passing year my responses to this question changed. From being a truck driver, I went on to become a Pilot, then a doctor, and then few years down the line I wanted to become an Astronaut. I don’t even remember at what age I said “I want to be an Army Officer”. But I do remember that from that point onwards, the response did not change. The only change that happened was I moved from “I want to be an army Officer” to “I am an Army officer.”

Fast forward a little and you will see a teenager frantically cycling to General Post office. Today was the last day of submission of applications for entrance examination to National Defence Academy. That kid was now a teenager, careless and yet resolved. Last minute huddle is always stressful. The kid had forgotten to bring a pen with him. He asked the booking clerk at the post office counter for a pen, to write down the address on the white envelop that contained his application. The booking clerk was a lady, probably same age as his mother. She gave him a look that generally mothers gave to their sons who they think are good for nothing and will probably end up becoming truck drivers in their lives. No disrespect to Truck drivers, it’s just that life of truck drivers is hard, and all mothers want cosy lives for their children. No mother wants their child to become a truck driver, or join Army for that matter. After having given him the look, and seeing the pathetic face the kid made trying to look apologetic for being careless, she relented. He hurriedly wrote down the address in as legible handwriting as he could afford given the circumstances and handed over the pen and along with the envelop to the lady on the counter. She glanced over the address written on the envelop. This time she gave the look of sympathy, reserved for children who actually became truck drivers or joined Army.

Fast forward a little more and the kid was now a young man in early twenties. Two stars shining on his shoulders and a crisp uniform which he would later know has no value in real soldering. Real soldering meant dirty boots and sweat soaked uniform. The only crisp thing that mattered on the soldier was a crisp smile. He learnt that running water was a luxury, and Rum was the king of good times. He would graduate to drinks that not even billionaires could afford. A simple 12 year old scotch poured on thousand years old ice from glacier. His office would overlooked beautiful valley illegally occupied by Pakistan, which he was sure will be returned one day to its rightful owner. While his friends chased girls in the gelaming malls of big cities, this young man found his calling chasing after enemies of the nation in dead of the night. His stories were from far off places, names of which were unheard of in his friend circle. He would go on to meet interesting people, share interesting cuisines, live off the jungle, be bitten by leeches and insects and yet be in love with what he does. He learnt that is what being a soldier meant. “Karmanye Vadhikaraste, Ma phaleshou kada chana”.

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