Oct 01, 2023
Oct 01, 2023
It was years back when I was in 12th standard; was watching Republic Day parade. Band after band, platoon after platoon in white, olive green and khaki flashed across the TV screen. Then came thrilling commanding voice! When the camera focused on the owner of that voice I realized that, it was of a smart girl cadet.
Gradually, over a few weeks and months the dynamic voice lingered in my mind and all that began to influence my very ambition! But that was long long ago!
As fate had mapped it out for me, I came to join a college where NCC was a part of the curriculum. The orthodox nuns who ran the college refused to allow anything more than the army wing because that demanded least exposure to the myriad of the adventurous world. Thus I became a cadet!
Soon we were all jam-packed into the mosquito infested basement and a gruff voice explained to us the advantages of NCC. Why I joined the NCC? I would love to discuss a few of the reasons.
The college authorities refused to let me play ball badminton because whenever I hit the ball it reached the outer most limitations of the court and delayed the match. Moreover the NCC people would teach us to handle and use a genuine rifle and when I heard this excitement ran down my spine and found its way into the brain which in turn instructed me to join NCC.
One fine afternoon, we were huddled into a tiny room which bubbled with a sincere stink and informed us that we have to pay our fees. I swooned! My friends saw to it that I recovered and stood all around me, lest I should fall shuddering into the hard ground again. The officer announced – Rupee one and fifty paisa - life fees! And I swooned again! Couldn’t help! Had never paid such meager fees all my life!
We were informed that we would receive our uniform and were made to stand in a long queue with due regard to our heights. Consequently I found myself standing at the tail end. It seemed ages before my turn came. Inside the room, a pile of clothes, belts and shoes and an officer with an assortment of badges on a table in front of him greeted me. I delved into the pile and took out a pair of trousers, shirt, cap, belt and socks. The officer gave me my badges. The problem now lay amidst the shoes! They weren’t in pairs. Solitary shoes got me into an awful confusion because if one shoe fitted the other of the pair didn’t.
Thus, well aware of my plight, they got me out of the confused state of affair by taking out a new pair of black boots for me from the almirah. They were dangerous looking, lead heavy, iron tipped at the heels. The bell rang its breath out and I had to run with my belongings to the lab!
After getting the uniform I indulged myself into a cumbersome task of cleansing and starching my uniform. It took me a little more than an hour to iron it. When I wore them, they gave me a tinge of paralysis. Yet I was supposed to bear the most comfortable expression.
Sundays were our NCC parade day. I had to catch the 6 o clock bus in the morning and begin my day. When I began to gear up myself in NCC cadet’s uniform, to my dismay I found that I had underestimated my height. The trousers which I thought would fit me reached only up to my knees. I obviously could not go out with them. So I went in Salwar Kurta and the black boots snugly packed away into a bag incase I needed them! After a bit of marching about, a free breakfast of cream buns, cakes and biscuits, we had a theory class. While returning home at about 11 o clock I boarded a city bus homeward. My cap neatly folded under the left shoulder tag. No sooner had I stepped on the foot board, the driver saluted me, mistaking me for a traffic police women. Someone even vacated seat for me.
Next Sunday I had to run to the bus stop and just as I reached the turning, the bus sped off wagging its wheels. And thus continued my Sundays!
What I gained from being a cadet I can’t infer. My views on discipline have been disarranged. My sprinting capacity has been deteriorated. It has been largely affected by running for the bus and cantering about the fielding those black boots whenever I was late for the parade. The only thing that I improved was my art of ironing my clothes.