You Age on Bellies of Black Boxes

About ColNarinder Singh Malhan

Colonel Narinder Singh Malhan was commissioned from Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun. On having served for almost four decades in Indian Army, he loves to share his experiences through his writings. In his opinion, every life has a lot to unfold. Each life is unique and is an historical document with its own identity. He strongly feels, real discovery is through introspection by looking back in own time. He believes, sharing own experiences are like revisiting life's milestones with more intensity. He thoroughly enjoyed his journey in uniform.

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We have, repeatedly, proved our toughness to ourselves. We have always matched pace with you. We understand that life in military has been tough for you, as a warrior. So has been our journey. We stood by you, like a rock. That speaks of our loyalty and integrity. Do you ever remember that we held a threat to quit? At least, we don’t. We are your military black boxes.

I have no reasons to disagree with this self description, echoed by my black boxes. They have an adventurous history and interesting tale to tell.

It is time to pay gratitude to my black boxes. They have been steady and loyal companions in my journey since I started my voyage as a soldier. Once, they quietly entered my life, since then it has been an association for life. They followed me like a shadow to different destinations. Most surprisingly, they carried my rank and name on them. Their rank always kept pace with mine.

Any news of transfer, generally after every two years, brought them into focus. They were counted, cleaned and maintained. Painting them with black colour was a periodic ritual. Their suitability to pack household goods was reassessed. Journey started with one black box. As the path went afar, their numbers also inflated. Serial numbers on them made counting easy. A stage came, when their numbers added to sixty and more. Every posting was a discovery, that I needed to buy more of them. This trend continued, as more items were added at each station.

They have not been ordinary boxes. Their strength and suitability was of paramount importance, before they were bought. Being conscious of the fact that their future journey was to be bumpy and rough, selection of a strong box was to lean on a solid and strong iron sheet, which alone could help to define them as warrior’s black boxes. As I can recollect, their first journey after my wedding to the far east was, almost, of ten days. Some of them enjoyed their journey through different modes of transport. So, their versatility was in their toughness to withstand the travel with success.

Some of them worked as a store house in perpetuity. Many household items which could never prove their worth during various turns of life, found an ideal resting place inside them. After every transfer, they enjoyed long resting peace in garage. Their stacking stood, almost, like a big wall. Their adaptability surprised one and all. They made up for a chair or deficient sofa set in a drawing room or some other corners of the houses. Lady of the house, through her ingenuity, could push them towards the wall of a room to turn them into a beautiful and warm seating place through their apt use.

Their adaptability has been remarkable. Range of the items, which could be absorbed in them, proved their seamless level of tolerance. All the items were able to co-exist inside them in great harmony.

By the time I retired, my relationship with them had gone deep and passionately emotional. I was fully aware that they would no longer be required for transfers; yet parting with them has been a painful experience, always with a heavy heart. Separation from them is like losing oneself in identity. Their presence in my parking space could easily be pointed out from a distance and a stranger would know that the occupant of the house was a soldier.

I am indebted to my dear black boxes for their valuable support throughout my long journey as a soldier. My successful travels during the service period could certainly be defined to a large extent through the bellies of these black boxes. Recognition of their incredible contribution in the past helps me to define my settlement in comfort after my retirement in the present. Last but not the least; I extend my deep and heartfelt gratitude to them for being loyal friends of mine in my long and circuitous journeys, which I had to undertake as soldier in the call of the duty.


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