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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Memoirs & Answers from the EWT !!!

Memoirs & Answers from the EWT !!!
--Capt S Shyam Saseethar

Having completed 5 years of my Life in the Indian Army, (3 yrs in the National Defence Academy and 1 year in the Indian Military Academy) one question which was always fired at me, be it from my seniors in NDA, my civilian friends at school, or even my parents at home and surprisingly my fellow comrades (course mates) within the organization as well was…Shyam why have you joined the Army?? Only I knew deep in my heart that I had no REAL answer, to this one.

Well for a young teenager who was a nerd in his school days the so called “Mr Book Worm” – the question did not come as a surprise at all. After scoring an aggregate of 93% plus in PCM in 10+2, who on earth would choose to join the Army…???
But as destiny would have it, I did make that choice and there I was, a fat dark kid from the south in the beautiful lush green fields of NDA with its splendid silence and awesome natural beauty.

Seldom did I realize then that, it would be in these very fields I would roll and roll endlessly for hours and that the so called heavenly silence of NDA would be shattered by screaming abuses of my Over study and of course the CSM of my sqn- The Hunter Sqn ! They say NDA has a total of 14 sqns where cadets are trained, the 15th one – the Hunter did not fit into that definition. Here Hunters were born, not trained. Here rules as applicable to cadets or Humans ceased to exist. So those 3 yrs went by, and I had the honour of passing out as the Quarter Master Sergeant of my sqn, leaner and smarter. But to my surprise, even in those three years I found no answer to that question..!

The days in IMA were equally adventurous but far more easier for me , and before I realized about it, the day had come when I crossed the < Antim Padh >> and was a commissioned officer in the worlds third largest Army. Corps of Engineers was what I asked for, and Bombay Sappers-107 Shatrujeet was what I got.
And so my days as a youngster in the regiment began and went on. Each day taught me new lessons and with every passing day I became a better individual professionally.

It so happened that on a short leave back home (( Youngsters don’t get vacations )) I had a chance encounter with my old schoolmate, Arun Kumar, now an MBA graduate working for shell, earning Rs 150000 a month as a chief purchasing manager. This lad asks me …. Shyam why are you in the Army? Why have you joined? I thought to myself, Oh My God… Not that question again. I don’t have a damn clue to it. But of course I had my SSB type standard answer to such questions. So like a well trained Ex NDA, I almost convinced Arun into quitting his job and join the Army. Only I knew that I still didn’t have the answer to that question to convince myself. And so my life as a soldier’s soldier went on as usual.

In the month of Apr 2010, we had a 90 day long exercise with troops in the dry barren landscape of Rajasthan. With temperatures soaring as high as 55 degree Celsius during the day, and dropping unbelievably during night, it was nothing short of Hell- at least for me - an individual used to certain luxuries.
I was so perturbed by the Heat and the ravaging sandstorms which would sometimes send the tents in which we stayed flying high, that I actually began to count DLTGH (Days Left to Go Home). The last time I had done that was during my NDA days. The situation was just getting worse from bad, and our tasks and responsibility only had an exponential increase. It was during these difficult times, that I was made an MOG cdr of an independent Det and asked to provide close Support to my affiliated Bde. For the first time, as an officer, I found myself as the senior most individual with a particular goal and limited resources to achieve it . It is impossible to pen down the experiences an individual gains by such (much needed) responsibilities. As we went about fulfilling our tasks, I began to notice something that had eluded me all through out my life.
I noticed the power of Human Endurance, the power of Interpersonal Relationship, the power of Patriotism, the power of Love.

During one of the exercises, we remained cut off from the main body for almost three whole days with only emergency ration of 24 hours and limited water available for our survival. It was a huge situation (Not Problem) to which I had to come out with an answer. And we achieved exactly that, as a cohesive team with – > attitude. I could proudly say that on that day, I had my first taste of professional Job satisfaction.

As the exercise went on, we passed through vast barren fields with a hut or two in between, with very few people mostly kids and women, staying in them.

But what came as a surprise to me was the feeling of respect and awe the locals had for the Army in general and for us in particular. No matter what be the time, No matter what be the temperature, whether or not there was a sandstorm or not did not matter at all, these people- Men, women and kids of all ages, they waived to us, cheered us, and made us go on, when none of us had any logical reason to do so.

The kids were the most active of all; they would run along us, provide us with Lassi and curd and always smile. Some of them did not wear any slippers, yet they would walk across the burning sand just to come to us and say – “Namaste Fauji Bhai”. It was after experiencing these extremely emotional and passionate expression of unconditional love and loyalty for the country and towards us , It struck me, that the answer I was in search of all these years have finally been found.

I found the answer to my question in the eyes of the Kid- Arjun Rathore, who saluted all of us at mid-noon and ran with cold water, a few broken biscuits and a can of home made Lassi.
“Fauji bhai—Fauji bhai, Piyo sharmao math piyo, ye aap ke liye khaas ghar se banaya hoon” – the whole world froze and stood still as these words penetrated my heart like sharp arrows. For now I knew why I had joined the Army. Now I knew that the feeling of pride and honour, I felt, I experienced that day was something the best of the multi National Companies anywhere in the world could never ever give to me. I was finally cleared of all my apprehensions about our war capabilities. I finally realized that if 11 yr old Arjun has such feelings and love and josh, who on earth could dare win over us, in a country with at least 10 million more Arjuns.

In the end, I fell in love, I can say, with the heat, the sand, the barren fields, the wonderful land of Rajastan for only I know that behind these are hidden the invincible fabric of Freedom and Liberty, Love and Patriotism, the actual PUNCH of our great nation which would knock out the greatest of greatest Armies that exist today.

Jai Hind
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