Sanjay Sharma: Embracing the Odds

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By A Correspondent

Sanjay Sharma was a happy go lucky kid in school and interested in everything co-curricular. He had no goal in life as such. Then one fine day, his “brainwashing” started. He was in a school which had uniform and had a kind of military discipline; it also had strict teachers as also officers of the Armed Forces such as Colonels, Squadron Leaders, Commanders and Captains of the Indian Navy, Air Force and the Army. He was made to focus on only one thing and that was Defence Forces. He got used to this indoctrination technique, where everyone one met did not ask you how one was, but how well your preparation for joining the defence forces was. He did not disappoint anyone as he joined the illustrious institution.

His second makeover was done in the Indian Military Academy. Whatever shades of civil life was left in him got converted into becoming a Gentleman cadet. His morning prayers used to start with - I love my country and continue as such. This Gentleman cadet could manage a cup of cold coffee to a bicycle valve, an olive dress to a raincoat. He could roll in his sleep and dance without music and enjoy his supper in empty plates. He fought daily battles with bedbugs, a torture technique he mastered. He could let a bee or a fly sit on his nose without scratching or swatting at it. He could roll up hill and up a staircase. He could navigate with no map in all out-of-bound areas. His nose was so sensitive that he could detect cigarette smell from three houses away. He could watch movies with his back towards the screen. He could run fifteen miles between supper and lights out. He could sham, he could pill, and I could feign the biggest limp. He could improvise conjunctivitis with paste rubbed in his eyes. Overall, he was brainwashed in such a manner that he forgot who he was. After all, he was on a journey to be in a noble profession.

Sanjay’s brainwashing continued as he learnt the honour code and military law. One mastered the art of disguise, not to camouflage for battle but from the instructors to go to Dehradun to meet young ladies. He was drilled hard to keep the integrity of my motherland till the peril of his life. He promised to go where his duty needed him by land, sea or air. He pledged his life to the nation and the tri colour, to keep it safe from all external aggression and internal disorders. He did everything that was needed to lead men to battle. He was conditioned to keep the safety welfare and honour of his men, foremost, always, and every time, the honour of his country came next, and his own safety and comfort last. He was now transformed into becoming an Indian Army officer, young, full of zeal, rearing to go.

Sanjay joined his unit in the mountains and was conditioned to become a mountain goat. He was trained to not only fire weapons but to strip a vehicle apart and put it back together again. He was accustomed to learn to change oils, taste petrol or diesel depending on the flavour of the day. He could munch on grass with food, and live on limited water. Above all, he was hardened to be happy in all circumstances. He was skilled to be a jack of all trades. He was supposed to know what a pink gin was as also a Molotov cocktail (Flammable Liquid bottle). He learnt to ride a horse and drive a truck as a second profession. He could communicate with hand, flag, radio, eyes, bird calls, and you name it. He was taught to remain silent and avoid even the rustle of his clothes. He was tempered to walk in the mountain to survive in the cold, snow and jungles.

He was determined to eliminate the enemy before they got into his side of the border. He was at ease to look after the ladies as well as children and told to be compassionate and kind. He was taught how to live and work with the men; and made into a unique fighting machine - tough, resolute, upright, caring, honest, dedicated, and professional, a man proud to adorn the uniform, a man proud to lead his men.

As Sanjay led his life’s journey he learnt cultures from the north to south, east to west of his country. Soon he became a professional logistician and moved everything by rail, land and air including the dogs they befriended at their posts. He learnt to balance between private and professional life. He learnt how he could live without his family, especially his child whom he could never see taking her first steps or when she started to talk. Overall, his indoctrination continued unabated.

However, one day Sanjay brainwashed himself to revert to the civvies’ streets. He prepared himself that henceforth no lunch would be free. Privilege to get a gypsy (Army vehicle) at the railway station with a glass of tea would not be there anymore. He will have to stand in queue if he wanted to pay bills. He would have to re-learn to ride a scooter, buy milk and vegetables. He brainwashed himself to iron his clothes and go to the market for a haircut. He prepared himself to wash his own car, polish his own shoes and shine them better than while in service. Sanjay simply transformed himself to now live with and live for his family. His priorities in life were different from what they used to be but he would continue with his country first and be a veteran for life.

In a life span of 45 years, Sanjay Sharma must have adapted to 45 types of places, circumstances, living conditions, bosses, situations, state of mind and state of affairs. He learnt to remain cool under any circumstances that life could throw at him. Sanjay’s blood will always remain Olive Green (Indian Army). Now in Canada, he wonders, “Will I keep learning as I go?”

I think we know the answer.

JULY 2018

Vol. 12 - No. 12


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