I am working in an organisation which has quite a few ex-servicemen working under me. It feels so good when one receives salutes with the same josh as one used to get when I was in uniform. The loud shout of Jai-Hind still gives me goose bumps. Sometimes it feels that one never left the army. It makes me emotional as one had never imagined the same izzat will continue. I am definitely lucky.
In my office I miss my dak “in-out” tray. How can I forget the “pending” tray, it actually used to give nightmares as to why something was pending? The wall clock and calendar are still displayed, I still have a bell on the side of my desk to call the runner; the only difference is that I have to ring it more than ten times for half a minute each to catch somebody’s attention, unlike the reaction in the unit. Here we have one person looking after one floor and he has more than ten offices to look after. Sometimes this man does the disappearing trick also.
I also miss my fly swat which used to be my secondary weapon during peace time. I had mastered killing a fly with a flying shot. The glass of water still remains, the coasters are still there but the blazer cloth on my table has gone missing. I still love to have that important information under the glass of my table as a ready reckoner. The nominal rolls are still posted on the notice board along with the training programmes. I still have an operations board with maps and enlargements to show the general area, its major assets, routes of “ingress and egress”. I love that arrow which prominently shows “YOU ARE HERE” or else I will be lost. I display an arrow which shows north prominently, by the way I will fail if you ask me the difference between true north, magnetic north and grid north.
I also have another board which gives me a feel of my good old days is the parade state board. The only thing is that now there are no companies and platoons but contractors and vehicles. From a black board we have moved to white board, from the chalk we have graduated to temporary markers but the feeling of knowing where each person is gives you a satisfaction that all must be well.
I used to have a white “Sunmica” writing board with lots of china graph pencils and some “chindi” to wipe things off, basically the progress of things and my follow up points which I miss. I also miss the draft pad, a light green shade of paper with a prominent green line about two inches from the left side if I remember correctly. Our clerks were always short of paper and this draft pad used to be the saving grace. The good old glass paper weights, the golden pen stand with a blue and red ballpens called pen Wilson. I used to feel a little jay when the Second in Command’s pen stand used to have slots to keep paper pins and we had a magnet to which anything metallic used to be stick.
I also miss the red and green bulbs denoting busy and free lights. The parallel set of lights in the Adjutant’s office which used to become a waiting hall of kinds for the umpteen cups of tea, waiting for your turn to be fired by the CO. The worst used to be at 2’o’clock. The COs jonga used to be ready to take off, the 2IC inside, red light on, you are hungry and waiting for that one signature and suddenly there is commotion. The adjutant springing out of his chair, both the lights switched off together and off went the boss. 2IC comes and tells you that brother prepare for op area tomorrow. You say sir my leave starts tomorrow, he says which leave, you say sir let me speak to the CO, he says CO has left for Div HQ and there were no mobiles. The only thing one could do was Peechay Mur daur ke chal.
Well another thing typically fauji I have in my office still are those chairs with white covers on their back rests. I miss my small note pad with your appointment written on top. The Int Section used to nicely cover it, put a talc cover and then fire an “imprinta gun” on a tape. Out used to pop your name and stuck in the centre of your note pad. For lesser mortals they used to stencil the name. So to make up for my love for my name I display the same in form of a metal name plate on my office door with pride. It reminds me that old chap you better maintain the fauji decorum here as people call you Colonel saab and look up to you.
Today we had a kind of orderly room to reprimand a chap for dereliction of duty. I felt so sad for this retired Army clerk who has now become a discipline case beyond any ones control. I have been with him for five years. How I covered him up at the peril of my job is only known to me. How I went out of the way to help him, counsel him, counsel his family, wife too was involved like a unit lady, got him treated for alcohol dependency, motivated him to go through a rehab, sat with him in his hospitalisation, adjusted his leave and pay when he did not have any left and all those things that you do in fauj but to no avail. Today, I had to take his resignation. One could give a pitthoo in the unit or an extra guard check but here I just can’t do any such thing. There is a limit to give “lift” and tolerate nonsense. Incorrigible people are everywhere. I never give up but fauji methods don’t work in civil.
My heart is heavy, my mind is not reconciling with the fact that I as an ex serviceman had to take such a drastic step against another ex serviceman. My conscience did not allow army’s image to be tarnished anymore. If this man has decided not to listen to logic, so be it. He better be relieved from duty and left free to live his life the way he likes. Have I done the right thing? I wonder!!!!!!!!!
© Noel Ellis