Absence of a service on a particular day makes us realize importance of a service provider. But as long as the service is available without any hassle or without being asked, it is least valued. Such happens with us, the Fauji, often. Their decisions are questioned, their integrity doubted, their paths analysed, without of course any significant knowledge of the conditions they are treading with.
As a result of the thankless attitude of certain category of people, it is assumed that they don’t deserve empathy or gratitude. Rather, many are brought up in a way that they feel no necessity of acknowledging the role of these people in life. Their services are taken for granted. I have read or heard people saying arrogantly, that we are doing no favours by joining the Armed Forces as we are being paid for their services!”
True. We are being paid for our services. But our job is more demanding, than any employer can ever pay. And what we earn, is an attitude to stay unaffected and give our best till our last breath, which no pay-check can ever match up for.
On hindsight when I revisit the winter days spent at KARGIL way back in 1983, I am reminded of my ‘SAHAYAK’, Sep Karan Singh. At the peak of winters, temperature at around minus 22 degree, stepping out in open was freezing. Chilly winds pierced through the dry skin, howsoever warm clothes you pile on yourself. Under these conditions, one of the biggest luxuries we had there was the hot cup of tea early in the morning brought over by Karan Singh.
Getting a hot bucket of water in morning hours had a very interesting administrative procedure. It involved breaking some pieces of ice from a barrel, transferring these pieces into a bucket and heating it over a kerosene heater to convert it into hot water. As the user gets into the routine of receiving these life-altering favours every day, he generally takes the liberty to connect these rituals with knots of duty, for which the Sahayak is being paid. But sincerity and responsibility is a priceless giving, way beyond what can be trapped under bonds of duty.
Looking at the things, the way one wants to judge, depends on individual perspective. Strength lies in identifying that invisible hand, which made you comfortable in extreme cold climatic conditions. This is where power of gratitude lies. Those were difficult winters for Karan Singh too. Yet, he had the heart and will to prioritize my comfort over his. No payment is enough to repay this service.
Beauty of our relationship kept us connected till the next twenty seven years.