WHAT A FATE?
Prof Dr Colonel ( Retired) K PrabhakarRao
Curtain rises and in the center of a dimly lit room in heavens an old man is lying on a cot. He is bald, tall and thin and frail. He has already crossed 90 years and is unable to move. Next to his bed on a small table some medicines are kept. In a corner to a stand are hung uniform and peak cap. A rusty old fashioned sword hangs at a nail. Dusty Army boots are kept at a corner. The rank badges on uniform have almost become black due to influence of climate. He is seen coughing too…An eerie silence prevails in room.
(Some one knocks at the door and the old man is woken up)
Old man. Hey who is there .. Koyee hai…( Typical British Indian army style).. Ughh.. Ughhh …..(Coughs)
The door opens and a person walks in. He switches on the light and goes near the bed. He is not very tall, looks shriveled with large moustaches and walks with drooping shoulders.
Old man. Who is there ?.( Looks at the visitor.) Hello. Sam How are you? Nice to see you here. How is everything?
Sam Manekshaw. Good evening Cariappa sir. I recently came here after some illness in India.
Cariappa. That is good. It is a good riddance. We had enough of it there.
I put on uniform for so long
Then finally I became oblong
My body at the end had only bones
Although while young I was like Indiana zones
Sam. Yeahh. Well said sir,. How are you doing sir?
Cariappa. You can see yourself. I was thoroughly sucked out while in uniform while I was C in C and then COAS.
Sam. Me too. I was given rank of Field Marshal then I was left to winds. Some leaders were not happy with me. Many thought I was a great risk. They thought I would take over India.
Cariappa. Silly guys.. How can we do that? We had so much discipline and were brought up in slavery too. The same thing continues in blood too.I was given the rank when I was unable to walk even
Sam. That is how things work there.
Cariappa. I heard lot of trouble is going on in respect of pay commission for army. You came recently. Any news?
Sam. I was no way involved. They do not consult us. We are ceremonial. But I know some serious trouble is there
Cariappa. What could be?
Sam. The chiefs at last gathered courage, became manly and refused to implement sixth pay commission’s recommendations
Cariappa. That is strange. Did they have straight and erect spine? How they got courage? I can not imagine. My head is reeling now. This could be one of the wonders of the world
( He swallows a pill of Asprin)
Sam.( Laughs Haa.. Haa.. Hoo. Ho.. Ho.. Hii…Hii Hee) They atlast developed the spunk. Sir! Recently Army used to give in the news paper advertisements for recruitment.. Do you have spunk in you.? If so join army. That was great
Cariappa. Haa… Haaa ( Caughs loudly. He picks up a cough syrup bottle from bed side table and takes few drops. Did good guys join after reading?
Sam. I doubt sir. Bright guys run away from army. Left over flunkies and nuts gather at SSB. They are struggling now to get higher pay for every one. They are unhappy that civil babus and police guys are getting more and there is no parity in ranks. A BSF commandant would now draw more pay to army Lt Col. Sirring will be reverse way now. Now guys in army are scared that a day would come when police DGP would become senior to Army chief even. Any thing can happen in India
Cariappa. Let BSF guys fight wars for India. We can take care of borders in peace time. Roles would be reversed. Diluting army was always there right from beginning. What was my position when I took over from General Butcher? What were you finally?
Sam. We are junior to even chota mota (Minor) civil servants and side kicks too.
Cariappa. Leave apart some political flunkies
Sam. A stage will come when a Lt Col will be junior to even a police inspector. The day is not far off
Cariappa. It can happen
Sam. As it is some army officers were put in lock up by some police men in UP. They were rescued by a Lt Col later on by taking troops with him
Cariappa. These things have been happening regularly and some times army guys have bashed up police men. I know it happened in Langar houze at Hyderabad, Amritsar and Agra
Sam. All crap is going on now days
Cariappa. I think there is overall slump in the country
Army guys in India are at receiving end
The country’s ways they are unable to bend
The guys are happy with some titbits thrown in
And they happily beat an empty mess tin
Cariappa. What a nice poem. When did you learn to write poetry?
Sam. What else can I do after retirement? No one gives me other job.
Cariappa. Haa.. Haa. Hee. Hee. True but now aa days the army guys claim that they get top jobs in industry if they go out
Sam. Illusion sir. These guys are already outdated working in army. No one cares for their experience.
Cariappa. But they might be good at man management. See they do so many courses.
Sam. Partly. (Laughs) But many are bad managers also. Civilians think these guys can not adjust and are one tracked
Cariappa. But not always. Some may be bad
Sam. But these guys are left only when they turn into dead wood and completely exhausted. Then they are pushed out with some silver salver.
Cariappa. I learnt it is also not given in time on day of retirement
Sam. Yes.. I heard one officer had to write to a Colonel Commandant to get one after retirement
Cariappa. What a tragedy indeed?
Sam. But that is life sir
All is not fair with these guys
Who are floating like buoys
They swing left and right
Looking some time bright
Cariappa. Nice poem. You have picked up this art well
Sam ( Laughs).This is what people should do after hanging uniform
Cariappa. You said retired army guys are fit to right poetry. But not all are good at English. Then what they will do
Sam. I know many do not do any thing. I know someMajor Generals joined some political parties. Nothing came through. They were not given higher positions
Then what happens.
Cariappa. I know. These guys have lot of ego. Every where they have to be at number one. Once you leave your uniform you are along with every one in a political party. You are not known in public. If you stand independently who would vote for you?
Sam. Haa.. Haa. Not even your wife
Cariappa. Some spend some time as chief guests at some functions. That is also short lived as time goes on.
Sam. Yeah. You can not be at top all the time
Cariappa. That is possible only in civil politics where certain dynasties rule.
In the mean time some Marshal music is heard. Chod Chalo oh Duniya wallo Hindustan hamara Hai.. … is played at high tone Then walks in Netaji Subhas Chadra Bose in Jack boots and in uniform of INA.
Subhas. Hello Marshals, Good morning. How are you
Sam. ( Gets up smartly and salutes) Good morning sir. I am honored
Subahs. ( Goes to Cariappa who is unable to get up . Places his hand on him and comforts him) Hello Marshal. Do not take trouble. You already had enough with guys in India.
Cariappa. Good morning sir. I am unable to salute you. I am weak. I can not even lift my hand properly
Netaji. Marshal Just relax. I just now over heard your conversation from the door when I stepped in. You were telling about dynastic rule.
Cariappa. True. I was saying some families always rule in India. Others only to boot licking to be precise.
Sam. Son of a person from some families always are top leaders
Cariappa. That is the psychological degradation in Indian masses. They are more slavish. They live on past glories and give credit accordingly
Netaji. That is perfectly said. Just see the Indian leaders one after the other. There is a chain of succession
Sam. Yeah.. Mughals died long ago. But soon a new dynasty started off.
Cariappa. It happens only in India. We are more sentimental and slavish too. Look in America they worship Washington. But Washingtons children did not become Presidents.
Sam. Same is the case with England.
Netaji. (Takes a deep breath) What I can say. I have seen things from very close. I am the witness to the growth of some important persons during freedom movement who are still ruling and getting ready to rule
Cariappa. Now a days some one is being called Yuv Raj. A practice from kingdoms
Netaji. Look Marshal. The stooges in the political party want to appease the top guys. It is sad that even senior guys from the party resort to this type of bootlicking to gain favors
Sam. Sir this is the Indian trait
Netaji. Look. Although Winston Churchill led England to victory in World War II he lost the elections. In India guys get elected on some ones name eternally
Sam. Although they mucked up Indian security in 1962
Indian army was butchered in the past
At some places they fought to the last
Nehru was sad and atlast gave up his soul
But no one had guts and shouted foul
The dynasty goes on to rule
People in elections become a fool
The same old faces are again on the screen
Although they are sick with damaged spleen
Sam. Sir well sung. Three cheers to you
Netaji. You guys appear to be good at poetry
Cariappa. What else we can do? No one wants our advice.
Netaji. I heard there is some trouble in army over pay commission reports
Sam. Yes sir. We were discussing that before you came in
Netaji. Nothing new. Days have changed. INA soldiers were different . They were fighters for freedom. Indian army also has laid down many lives during last four wars and internal security commitments
Sam. Thanks for your kind words sir
Netaji. It is OK. It is so sad that Army had to shout and Ex servicemen have to demonstrate for extra coppers. What a shame in India
Sam. It is said Army in under civil control.
Cariappa. But looks like under civilan Babu control as I read in news paper.
Netaji. I know India is heading for trouble soon.
Cariappa. Sir What type of trouble?
Netaji. When army demads higher pay which should have automatically it is the last straw. Down fall has already commenced. We have seen How Pakistan suffered and what happens there
Sam. You expect similar things
Netaji. I do not wish. But is inevitable. No one can change fate
Carappa. What a fate indeed
Netaji. Thanks guys. Thanks for the company. God bless you.
Sam and Cariapa say Jai Hind and salute as Netaji goose steps and walks off stiffly while song is played…. Chod Chalo Oh Duniya wallo Hindostan Hamarahai…
Dr K Prabhakar Rao