“Vadina, just one more phulka, …. I……I won’t ask for more again. The pangs of hunger……. intolerable.”
Krishna pleaded with Lakshmi, his Vadina. Tears welled up in his otherwise mischievous eyes.
“I wish I could Krishna. But your brother will be furious. He is very particular about your diet and physical fitness. No compromise.” Lakshmi felt a stab of pain but if the mission had to be achieved, she had to be strict.
Krishna stamped his feet helplessly.
He felt homesick. All he wanted at that moment was the cosy lap of his affectionate mother.
‘Annayya is such a despot!’ He grimaced as the rumblings in his tummy intensified.
“Lakshmi, be strict with him. He is overweight and he has to shed those extra kilos. I assured Babaigaru that I would train him for armed forces. He has cleared his written exam but the physical and medical tests are yet to be cleared.” Major Ramesh reminded her.
Krishna felt like a caged bird.
“Babaigaru, Krishna got selected for Short Service Commission. He has to report at the Officers Training Academy at Madras.”
“Thank you, Ramesh and Lakshmi for taking his responsibility. I will accompany him. He has never been away from home.” Rameshwara babaigaru choked on his words.
“Mamayyagaru, Krishna needs this exposure.” Lakshmi comforted him
The train pulled lazily at the Madras station. The aroma of hot food stirred Krishna’s senses.
“Daddy, shall we have breakfast and go?”
“No. Let’s go.”
The porter carried their luggage and called a taxi. “Alandur, OTA,” said Rameshwara Sarma with pride.
As they alighted the taxi, Rameshwara Sarma saw a batch of khakhi- knicker -clad men engrossed in gardening.
He hailed one of them and said, “My son Krishna is a new recruit. Who should we meet?”
“Sir, meet Major Sinha. He is on rounds. Kindly wait in the waiting room.”
“Inform him we have come from Hyderabad. You can’t expect me to wait for some Major ……” He sounded offended.
“Sir, he is the Commanding Officer here, be respectful.”
“What happened subedar?” Major’s voice boomed as he glanced at Krishna.
“Submit your documents. Room in third floor. Join us for lunch sharp at 13.00 hrs. Mr Rameshwara Sarma accommodation is only for the recruits.”
“Hey you, carry my son’s luggage to his room, I will pay for it,” Rameshwara Sarma beckoned a jawan.
Krishna followed the jawan. By the time they reached his room Krishna was gasping for breath.
He was about to unpack his luggage when he saw Major Sinha standing at the door, fuming.
“Why didn’t you carry your luggage?”
And then the most unexpected, shocking thing happened. Major Sinha picked up the luggage, and threw it down unceremoniously from the third floor.
“Go and pick it up, in next five minutes I want you to report to me here along with your luggage. Your training has started.”
The newbie in the third floor and the father in the ground floor stood gaping!
What a beginning!
I have used a few Telugu words in the story.
Vadina- siter-in-law (Telugu word for elder brother’s wife)
Annayya – Brother
Babaigaru – uncle (respectable way of addressing father’s brother)
Mamayyagaru- father-in-law (father’s father or uncle)
The story idea is based on a real incident that happened with my father’s first cousin way back in 1970. My father, a doctor in Army Medical Corps, retired as a Lieutenant Colonel. My uncle served in the army during the 1971 war. He retired as a Major.
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