The day I retired from army was the most remarkable day. The other remarkable thing about retiring was that I got emancipation from a regimented life where 'yes sir' was the buzz word of the day. 'No sir' had no room in it.
I was fortunate enough to have retired with all my limbs in perfect condition. The same was not true with my friends. Perhaps,no bullet was ever made for me in any ammunition factory. Not only this, there were some who could not make to their villages. They either perished in the burning Sahara desert or in the dense jungles of Burma.
On returning to my village, my people welcomed me with open arms. Small was my village and small were they in number. But they had large heart. Out of love and affection they called me 'babuji' for I was the only one in the village who had passed matriculation. These small people with large hearts called an elephant so that they could take out a small procession by making me sit on the elephant. The procession passed through the lanes and bylanes of the village. I could see villagers standing on rooftops to see me riding an elephant. I could see my mom standing by the side of her old house, with a small scarf on her face. My happiness doubled on seeing her. She was simple and watched me with great pride. I could see tears of happiness rolling down her old cheeks.
It was a common sight to see her in tears whenever I left the village to join my duty my mother would bid me goodby till the outer boundary of the village and that too on foot, I could see tears rolling down on her cheeks. My father took me in the bullock cart only to leave me to the nearest bus stand. I never saw my father crying. But he never looked back after leaving me at the bus stand. Perhaps he too cried but he never wanted me to see him crying, so that I may not become weak. My mother stood like a piller in my life. It was her sacrifice that made me ride an elephant.
The times were not peaceful when I joined the army. The first world war had started. I, as a new recruit was sent soon to the western front after completion of initial training. All that I was taught in the training was to see the enemy, always through the barrel of a gun, be it a barrel of tank gun or howtizer.
Life was not that comfortable in far of lands. Whenever news of war reached my mom, she only prayed to God for my well-being. There were no phones or mobiles thrn. The only medium of communication was to talk directly with God. My mom just prayed sincerely. Her prayers were heard. The only service that I did to her was to moneyorder the salary I received. The demand and desires were less than, and people lived a very happy life with small things.
The euphoria of procession was over. But the next few days were very busy. My villagers would visit their babuji to know about the people of far off lands that I had visited. They were more interested in the two world wars that I had taken part in. The most common place of chatting was the village chaupal. My friends would come in the evening to chat about what I saw in two wars.
The stock of incidents and happinings that I had seen in two wars was so great that I could talk for days together. The old and young came to listen to my talks. At times talks could go on for hours together and culminated only into sleep. Some of my young friends were so motivated buy my talks that they started joining the army. Few of them even became senior officers.
During one of my such story telling I went into a deep slumber only to find myself on the battlefields of Sahara desert and dense, damp lands of Burma. I felt that I was a soldier in my previous birth as well.
I was lost in fighting the enemy. Incidents and happinings of previous life started pouring into my subconscious mind. I saw myself among the soldiers of different lands, each one fighting for his own survival. A friend of mine said that Earnest Hamingway was also fighting along on the same front. He was seriously injured but somehow survived. It was a situation where either you kill someone or else you get killed. My whole mind was in the war theatre. I could see my batallion along with other soldiers crossing the burning Sahara desert. I could see mirage before my eyes, with not a single drop of water to be seen. I could see how a battalion consisting of white soldiers collapsing one after another. The soldiers of the battalion collapsed like Pandavas, while going on to the last journey of heaven. There was no one to shed tears for them. The uniform of the deads were sent to their near and dear ones as a symbol of their sacrifice. The deads were so unfortunate that they could not even find a piece of land 3 X 6 feet. 'Their fellow soldiers also could not help them. Were they to help the deads they would have been over run by the enemy. Battalion kept on marching only to overthrow Field Marshall Romal.
Our movement was at a great human cost. It was only to fullfill the false ego of political masters. They laid down their lives for no fault of theirs.
A large number of my friends were taken as prisoners of war. They were hounded up like dogs and sent to detention camps of Italy and Germany. They were ill treated and poorly fed. Sum of them died while being transported from Sahara to Germany or Italy, others died in detention camps. Their plight was beyond description. I wonder weather there near or dear once were ever informed. Only the most lucky reached his village. Sadly enough, their number was very low. Perhaps no mother or father was left to shed tears for these departed young lads. Most of the soldiers who died were in the age group of twenty and thirty years. Perhaps they would have lived many more years if there was no war.The reaching of uniform was the only source that the individual is no more. At times the uniform reached very late and by that time the tears would dry. What a fate !
The great night still had many hours to go. And I saw that my batallion was asked to move to eastern theatre of war. It was only because there was some ease on the west as FM Romal was called back by Hitler. As usual we were hounded up in to a ship at Alexandria Port. Tired and broken down I know not when the ship reached Port of Chittagong. The situation here was no different from the west. Rather it was more grim.
The Japanese were ruthless and most brutal. As we crossed into the jungles of Burma I virtually saw the bodies of English Soldiers hung upside down and pealed with razor blades. An extreme case of atrocities. In Burma it was a double sided casualty. The dense and marshy lands on one side and the inhuman atrocities of Japanese.
The Japanese were experts of suicide. A captured Japanese officer in 101 Common Zone Area of Shillong was being interrogated. While being interrogated by a team of five British Officers. He suddenly pulled his little finger and blew up himself. Along with him died the interrogating team. The Japanese officer had bomb implanted in him with a trigger in his little finger. This is just one example. Thereafter, there was no Japanese translator left in eastern wing of the army.
It is said that there is always a silver lining around a black cloud. The war clouds started thinning down. At first it would look as if war was coming to an end but it did not happen. It is said that a candle before it switches off, its glow increases the same case was with the war. Before the war could come to an end the American Air force bombed two major towns of Japan with hydrogen and atomic bombs. Nagasaki and Hiroshima were devastated by these deadly bombs. Within minutes millions of people were killed. This was the biggest human tragedy of war. After taking a heavy tall of human life the war came to a sudden halt.
All the soldiers engaged in the Western and eastern theatre of war were ordered to go back to their countries. So was I.
The biggest drama of night was that my index finger kept on moving after a certain interval. It was a sign of my fighting spirit within me.
The army always teaches soldiers the art of passing life after retirement. I preferred to learn the art of "Healing wounded Humanity". I had seen the wounded humanity from a very close angel. I saw the war zone virtually littered with human limbs. Remains of Jet fighters on the ground with pilot sandwitched in. What else can be more agonizing than wrecked ships sunken down with hundreds of crew on it.
Humanity needs people who can redress their wounds. Ever since I retired I made it a rule to visit orthopaedic wards and cancer hospitals. Perhaps the wounded people don't need sympathy. Show of sympathy can make them weak. What all'they need is people who can teach them the art of facing life. Whenever I go to hospital or homes of destitute the only thing I do is to listen to their problems with compaction and with full devotion. I try my best to make them believe honestly that I am one of you. You are mine. Few words of solace, kindness and sweetness go a long way in life. Such pleasing words full of affection immediately glow their face. A divinity develops on them. An evening of bhajans further increase their will power. My visit to the homes of destitute is no different from hospitals. Here the aged suffer from loneliness. Little do they know that loneliness can be driven by bhajans. I take a bhajan crew of four to the old-age home. When the bhajans are at peak the old and sick start dancing. Their drooping down faces glow as morning sunflower. They become oblivious of all their ills. This is the power that bhajan has.
We receive what we give. When I try to give happiness to others, greater amount of happiness starts coming to my life. It brings greater self satisfaction to me. This is what that great night, that one night changed mu life.