Oh yes, our minds are really funny. Stupid, I dare say, but funny it is. I think we as a species are the only bunch who can think something and act something in a total 180 degree spin. Mind says this, I think this, and I act this. And you would say yes with perfect conviction when I say that all the three ‘this’ mentioned in the above line are dissimilar. This brings us to imagine that maybe this is the reason why we are tagged as species of a higher thought process, of greater thinking power and definitely superior race. Look, we can do and think so many things at a since frame in time.
That brings us to the discussion of the day. An officer and a junior-commissioned-officer(JCO) were brutally beaten up today in the wee hours of the morning. The JCO succumbed to his injuries and the officer lies brutally injured in a 10 bedded hospital in a far flung area of Karbi Anglong. This is the setting. Now, I am not going to discuss about the fallacies in operational planning and the situations that led to the missing of a pistol and an AK 47, both of which are the hot topic of discussion in almost every unit in the Indian Army. But I will consider about the cocktail of reactions that came in the answer.
The most barefaced reaction came from our boss, as he said, (translated) “We have been salvaged” (It could have been us, but I am happier that it’s them). Then a myriad of other reactions followed. Starting from the theory of launching a successful operation to how the boss of that unit would be sacked for life. There were emotions of triumph, relief, mock and a generous helping of you-are-in-thick-shit-son feeling in the sir. People talked about how the boss(the ‘son’ mentioned before) would ever live another glorious day after this one, how the officer was better dead than coming back alive after getting beaten up and losing a lethal weapon, and about how the JCO might have been mistaken to be a militant before he was beaten out of his life. But not one, and not once did anyone in the gathering in the officer’s mess who had gathered to celebrate the 60 years of Republic India think about the soul that departed and the life that hung by the sword. A life that would deal with the insanity once it bounces back to life and the life which would go wasted when it gave way. In between the frolic and the gossip flowed beer and whisky and an occasional glass of juice. This day being a Tuesday, the day of Lord Hanuman, there was also two who were fasting. Anyways, the party went on, the music played, the babble chattered and the party was almost over without even one person interested in knowing the very name of the departed soul and the present status of the one that survived. A departed soul is being looked on with condescension today, for bringing stain to the ‘stainless’ fabric of a glorious Army. A martyr he has become who is lucky to not see what he gave up his life for.
Friends, I am also a soldier and the Army is my home, my identity, my everything. Every day when I dawn the uniform, a passion runs in my blood that is satiated by nothing less than what I am doing. This kind of feeling comes to one only when he has been baptised into a place that is moral, tough, devoted and above all passionate! That is the Army. Its an overwhelming place. But this once, I stand looking at the sky, asking to myself – in the race to power and recognition and accolades, did we forget what we actually are, what our purpose is? Did we forget how it is to be human, in spite of wearing a bullet-proof? Did we forget that sympathising with the soul and the family is more than just a formality, a set drill? Did we kill ourselves and our fundamental nature long back? I really don’t know. Today the army is all about the rat race, a race that gets stronger when somebody trips down and breaks his bones. Somebody wise has put it – ‘at the end of a rat race, you are still a rat’!
And so we all depart from the mess and rush to out rooms on this chilly republic afternoon, into the warm embrace of the quilt and sleep tight. The JCO was no more than a meaty topic for discussion in the mess, the life lost was nothing but foolishness and the victim still in the hospital..? Well, his boss has nothing more in his career to do.
So I sulk here and realise that there really are moments in ones life that teach you so very much with the least effort. And I think that this kind of wisdom comes to people when they are least expecting it. And one stands there astounded at the thought process all our mind is capable of. I can say that. I can say that because I was standing there too when my mind switched songs and now in retrospect washes the sand from under my feet. I am so much overwhelmed that I could barely breathe.
(This content is not meant to evaluate the system or to criticise the organisation. Being in the Army is the best thing that has happened to me, and it is beyond me to refute or attempt to throw mud on it, but the matters of the heart...I think it should be listened to!)