Saab's kindness

A seminar was being held at Tezpur in Assam in the early 80s.  I was then a captain in the army. It was a three day event.

 The units of the cantonment were far-flung, necessitating commuting by transport. On one of the evenings, a major from the same formation, who had come to attend the seminar, wanted to call on a friend of his in the officers’ mess in one of the units.

He had no transport to commute in the cantonment.  He decided to foot it down. As he was walking down the road, he confronted an old man walking in the same direction. The inquisitive old man inquired with the major, as to who he was and where he was going. On learning that the Major had to traverse a long distance, the old man questioned, “Why are you not taking some transport instead of walking that long?” The Major smiled and replied, “Are Yar! Captain/Major ko kaun gaadi deta hai Aap itna budha hoke nahin chal rahe ho? Main abhi jawan hun, main bhi walk karunga aapke sath!” (“Oh, Who will provide transport to captains and majors? Don’t you see, you being such an old man are walking, I will also walk with you.”)

(The accepted norm in our army is 2nd lieutenant and the lieutenant are given 3 ton vehicles and captain and major are given 1 ton vehicle only on duty. No vehicle is given for personal work. Commanding Officers get a jeep, Brigadiers and above get staff car on and off duty.)

The major started rolling his toe and heels and swinging his arms as if in the ‘walk’ was an athletic event. The amused old man said, “Don’t worry, and come with me! I will try to help you.” Both walked a distance, to reach the gate of an army building. On entering the gate, the old man said, “Wait in the officers’ mess for some time. I will get you a vehicle.” The old man called a sentry and told him to get his staff car and ring up the Commanding Officer of the unit where the major was to go and inform him the Maj will be slightly late. The clueless Major after entering the mess asked the mess waiter, “ Kaun hai yeh budha admi?” The mess waiter replied, “Saabji, woa Corps Commander Saab hai.” On hearing this, the major’s face turned yellow, as if he had got green diarrhea. His eyes became wet in self pity, because of his informal demeanor with the VIP. 

When the staff car arrived, the terrified major hesitantly got into the vehicle and headed for his friend’s mess. On reaching the officers’ mess, the Commanding Officer and all officers of that unit received him dressed up in formal suits. The Commanding Officer said, “We got a message that you would be slightly late, but we were worried in case we got late to receive you.” The apparently embarrassed major apologetically narrated the whole incident to a guffaw by all present. That is the way of life in our army.

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