Good, bad and unexpected of Military life.
I remember clearly the date was 30 Oct 2005. It was the first time I was going to travel in a plane. But it was not just my first plane ride, it was the first time I was leaving my sheltered space under my parents’ protection and going to face the challenges of the world. I was proceeding to Chennai at Officers Training Academy, for undergoing my training for becoming an Officer in the Indian army. My dad had come to drop me at the airport. I could for the first time see pride in his eyes for being my father. I guess first time, I could feel he was saying he was happy that I was his daughter and he was proud of me. It was a very emotional moment for both of us. When I entered the airport and turned back to wave him goodbye, we both had tears in our eyes. He had tears I guess because he had always underestimated my potential till that day and I guess my eyes were moist because I had taken such a long time to prove my worth. While I boarded the plane, I was almost in tears. My flight attend was a tall and a smart guy but I was caught up in this emotion drama thing and may be that was the only time in my life that I must have not flirted with a smart dude.
Academy was one hell of a time. I had never stayed in a hostel ever before OTA. I was privileged enough to have my mother serve me food all throughout. Common bathrooms, washing and ironing your own clothes, adhering to mess timings for food, these were the least of things that I had to worry. The real trouble was getting up every morning at 4.30, running PT, doing drill, having breakfast in 2 mins, and I am not even mentioning about the punishment fallins, the PATTI Parades, the zero pt and so on and so forth.
But now when I think what made me not only go through the routine but also excel in it were the rest of the 71 course mates I had during that time. It was just the mass mentality that I followed and may be urge to be a little better than the rest that made me live one day at a time in the academy
I have lost the count, how many times we had cracked, cried, given up but it was the rest of us who had been there for each other, comforted, supported, and helped each other in passing that dreadful moment. It was on countless occasions that so many of us regretted joining academy at the first place. But it was just for that one moment and when it passed things were better and we kept on going.
Cream Rolls, pushups, drill, zero point , Spiderman, maharaja, murga, star jumps, mess out in one min, P hill, and gods knows what all in those 171 days. And finally, 18 Mar 2006, when all of us were commissioned as Lieutenant in the Indian Army. All 71 of us. Proud, happy, exhilarated to march proudly before are parents, to take those ANTIM PAG for the first time at PARWESHWAR. It was the best day of my life.
It’s been 4 and half years to that day and today I entered OTA gates again. Before also I used to show my id card at the gate but I was different today, because today when I showed my id card, I received a salute in return. I wasn’t much bothered about my turn out today. Because I was entering that gate as Maj Anita Padman and not No.1200 LC Anita Padman.
I feel a lump in my throat while entering the main gate. I sense of satisfaction so overwhelming that I don’t feel ashamed of crying in front of the sentry here. It’s the same Ashoka Path which I can literally say I have crawled and rolled on countless times. The same mess where I have had some of the best meals, starving after a long day. The ZOZILLA 2 barrack, standing in the veranda I loudly and clearly, say the muster before entering it. And finally my bed where I have had the most peaceful sleep all throughout my training.
I visited the anteroom and as soon as I entered the ante room the one thing that came to my mind was ROHINI, the OTA song. I look around, the feeling is so familiar. The chats and boards feel same, only and names of Pl CDRs and Appointments has changed and in one corner of the room I see s familiar memento. A Bronze Gong presented by our course.
How can I forget the drill square, the place which taught me to walk smartly, dress smartly, salute smartly and officially made me officers after passing out after crossing THE FINAL STEP.
The experience seems to be surreal. It feels as if it was just moments ago I was here, in my zero cut, white and black mufti and black shoes which were polished so well, I could see my own face in it and its now when all that has passed making me what I am today and only memories remains.
I am indebted for life to all thoughts who trained me, who pushed me beyond my capabilities, who believed in me when I had given up on myself ….. I am indebted for life to Officers Training Academy, Chennai.