Thursday, 4 October 2018

Diary Of A Soldier - 10, English translation of Gautam Rajrishi's 'Fauji Ki Diary' ( फ़ौजी की डायरी)

Kuhre Kee Mustaid Jawaanee Jaise Sainik Roman... Uff
(The youth of the fog stands alert like a Roman soldier... uff)                                                                       

The autocracy of the fog is on. Finally, the conspiracy of December to challenge the power of the sun has  come to fruition. The darned December has no idea how by challenging the sun it has increased manifold, the challenges faced by the people living at the border. If only words could describe how, as against the infiltration by a few mad jehadis at the barbed wire on the LOC, the inability to see just a yard ahead makes things so much more difficult for soldiers standing on alert twenty-four hours at the border...  how these razor sharp ranges and its jagged ups and downs make difficult the posting of security forces covering - chappa-chappa - each handbreadth of the land. And... oh, this mention of 'chappa-chappa' has brought to mind a very interesting episode.

Information about suspected infiltration received from region falling under the neighbouring battalion a month or two back had created some sort of a furore in the valley down below. Intending to do away with the hypothetical and preposterous news stories being put out by the media, the local police proposed to call a press-conference. The SP city was deputed to answer the questions put up by the journalists . A very lovable young man from distt. Samastipur in Bihar, appointed as SP city, has come here... with passion and fervour in his eyes and in his heart... baskets full of resolve and purpose in his grip. He calls often to enquire about the situation in the upper region and has therefore become a good friend.  As he was going through the list of probable questions a little before the start of the press-conference to keep ready his answers, SP saab got stuck on one question. Experiencing the natural nervousness of conducting the first press-conference of his career and looking for an apt answer to that absurd query he, for some reason or the other, thought of this friend from the high mountains . In a somewhat excited voice he first, as a preamble, apprised me briefly about the press-conference and then repeated the sticky question . An absolutely absurd question... one that could cause the blood rushing through the veins to boil... "How, when the army is posted at each handbreadth - chappa-chappa - of the land, does infiltration become possible ?" How does one explain to  these news-people the many hurdles the terrain poses in this place ! If only we had the freedom to make them stand here with their cameras at the chappa-chappa of the land, I would have countered them then by asking what all their camera, with its zoom lens, was able to cover ? Any way... the SP was anxiously waiting at the other end of the phone for a befitting reply. It made no sense to go into the details of the hurdles faced at the line of control, the hazardous ups and downs in the narrow mountains and the ferocity of the weather. The answer to this nonsensical question had to be given at the same wave length but making full sense . As the SP repeated his question words tumbled out on their own from my mouth...                                                                                                                                                                                         
"Between chappa-chappa, there also happens to be a hyphen"

The ear-splitting laughter ringing from the other end of the receiver after a moment's silence on the SP's part on hearing the reply had given the reply the stamp of being a foolproof one. It came to knowledge that the press-conference had been a colossal hit and a few local newspapers had used the statement about 'hyphen' as their headline.
News headlines however cannot be used as a cure for the 'hyphens' present along these razor sharp ranges, nor do they have any hold over the misdeeds of this brutal December. But then, December always brings with it certain special memories also... memories of the Passing out Parade. It's been twenty years now. Twenty four, if I also count the training period at the Academys...uff ! It is not just an era that has passed by during this period! A lot has changed during these twenty four years. In the country... in the army. To think that  the boy who had - even after clearing post-twelfth the IIT entrance exam respected reportedly throughout the country - opted for the National Defence Academy at Khadakwasla had, at one point,  dwelled in this very frame makes me laugh now. And the credit to make NDA an obsession goes to no other but a darned film. Years back... I must have been in class nine or ten at the time... could anyone have thought that watching such a very ordinary film as 'Vijeta', on the black and white screen of that small Uptron TV in the house would leave so extraordinary an impact on that teen-age mind ! The journey of 'Angad', the film's protagonist, from an average youth to an exceptional warrior was so intriguing and invigorating that the fourteen-fifteen year old boy, staring as if spell bound at the screen of that small Uptron TV, had wanted to become the live Angad on that screen... to be the cadet Angad undergoing rigorous training in the enormous, grand premises of the NDA... right there, right then. The world changed for that boy after watching the film. He had as if become obsessed by this passion that chanted  'NDA- NDA' each moment and then ... when the entrance exam conducted by UPSC and the qualification to sit for it was still more than three years away, he had begun to prepare himself to become 'Cadet Angad' in real. Is this called fate... destiny ? The film had released seven years after his birth, he had seen it seven years after its release and that too on the shimmering black and white screen of a fourteen inch TV, and this 'seeing' had turned the earth around on its axis for him in the opposite direction. Yes, perhaps ! This is destiny... laughing out loud in its most magnificent avatar ! Govind Nihalani Saab, the director and Shashi Kapur, the producer wouldn't have any inkling whatsoever that one of their films has transformed the entire life of a boy.
Now... after all these years I wonder if I had not viewed that film that day, would I still have been sitting here like this, keeping an eye on the border on this high mountain ... devising ways of making a mince of the conspiracy cloaked in the December fog !!!
The one way of arresting this wilfulness of the fog is by snowfall... only. However, there is no way the snow would fall before chille kalan... the time from the latter half of December till January end... when the winter is at its cruellest in the Kashmir valley... and it is still at least two weeks before chille kalan starts . Till then the alertness on the part of security forces demands to be at its peak. I had at some point written a few lines on this darned December. Will you listen to them, my diary ? Here goes :-

Thithuree raaten, patla kambal, deewaaron kee seelan... uff
Aur Disambar zaalim us par phuphkaare hai san... san uff

Boorhe sooraj kee barchhee par jung lagaa hai arse se
Kuhre kee mustaid jawaanee jaise sainik Roman ...uff

haanph rahee hai dhoop dinon se baadal mein atkee-phatkee
shokh hawaa ei ! tu hee isme daal zaraa saa ab eendhan...uff

(Freezing nights, flimsy blanket, wetness on walls... uff
And at that the dreaded December makes hissing calls .. uff

The dagger of the aged sun seems to have been rusted forever
the youth of the fog stands alert like a Roman soldier... uff

The sunlight has been panting for days, in and out of clouds in a duel
O pert wind ! Its for you now to add to it some fuel... uff)


No comments:

Post a Comment