During my student days, I had to study, among 14 texts of English, a book called ‘On the Air’ which was a compilation of talks given by different speakers over the BBC. Out of these, one of them created such a deep impression on my mind, that I remember the contents even to this day.
The speaker in this talk had discussed what Courage was. He said that courage is like bank balance. Some people draw on it often and little by little to counter the vicissitudes of everyday life (perhaps in situations faced by fans where Sachin did not make his 100th century or Sehwag got out for duck in World Cup Final!). Some draw upon it in a big bulk that it will be depleted and they arrive soon at the zero bank balance. He added that some soldiers on the warfront belong to the second category. They need to draw on their bank balance of courage in such great quantities that when they return home it will be as utter nervous wrecks with nothing left for their daily requirement.
Well, I don’t know what type of courage I was drawing upon when I had to face what was to me a difficult situation.
Ramu and I with our two young kids were staying in the first floor of a civilian flat in Lajpatnagar, New Delhi as we were yet to be allotted Service quarters. I had no phone or any Air Force people in the neighborhood.
Being an Armament officer, Ramu had to go on outstation duty to a bomb dump. He felt that nine days was too short a time to write to me. Moreover, with his morbid humour, he also told me that if a bomb misbehaved, he might even get blown off.
About four days after he left, I was standing on the balcony watching the road. I saw a military policeman on his bike weaving in and out of the lanes of our area, probably searching for someone’s house. Suspecting the worst, I came to the conclusion that he was searching for my house to convey the bad news. As I dumbly watched him appear again and again, I died thousand deaths. But, as the interminable hour passed, he did not come to my house.
I was totally at a loss. With two little kids and no phone, how do I reach his office to find if my suspicions were true? I did not even have the details of the unit he was visiting.
Gradually as 48 hours passed in acute distress, my logical mind told me that in case anything untoward had happened, Air Force would not have left me callously uninformed.
Thus my agitated mind reasoned and slowly attained a somewhat normal status. Still, what a relief it was to see Ramu arrive hale and hearty on the 10th day! Hearty he certainly was, because when I told him about the MP and my suspicions, he gave a laugh and clarified, “Don’t worry, if anything happens to me, it will be a senior officer who would come to convey the news to you and not just an MP (military police)”. Big consolation indeed!
But, living through situations like these must have built up my character. It has made me a staid, balanced person who can now take things in her stride.