The trunk that life of a soldier moves on


Kamal Baruah
Scoring hundred is always a milestone for anybody from childhood to professional career. They are crazy about a ton and a century. Now netizen posted their success at social networking. We’re in cloud nine after our daughter scored full marks - hundred in Maths. Even 95+ is inferior in mark-sheet. I wonder how little Ayush set a target while gaming on YouTube. So here I’m, without a milestone. Oh well, such is our life. Today my favourite word for writing is ‘Posting’. It’s another dollar word that its numerical value of the letters of the alphabet perfectly matched with figure 100 while assigning numbers to letters A=1, B=2, C=3 and so on, all the way through to Z=26.
A career in armed forces promises youngsters who aspire to choose excitement, adventure and challenges in their professional expectations. They face end number of posting while on transfer during one’s service period. Their daily lives were full of hardships as they deal with battles. But soldier live / eat / work with fun all the way. That makes a soldier to survive in difficult terrain in harsh climatic condition. A posting could be a huge task but in the armed forces it’s always attractive too.  Posting is followed by packing, transporting and settling down to a new base that is part of their lives. When people are not even satisfied with 4BHK at the same time, the life of a soldier is travelling inside a trunk.  I once showed my mother my magical trunk that has everything of our daily needs.
I was travelling by Karnataka Express bag and baggage (we call it box and boxes) at New Delhi Railway Station. A civilian may not realise the agony of posting. Soldiers have to bear the brunt of wear and tear for break journey one after another for reaching field location. It crashed to the ground in anguish carrying luggage over shoulder. A heavy kit-bag and a trunk are their only friend while move on posting. The trunk is made exactly in size that goes perfectly inside a berth of a train. Co-passengers often get annoyed from heavy kitbag that makes bedding over trunk. There’re many instances that box could help out during unreserved journey. Fauji used to make berth near wash room with boxes. Military trunk is also called a foot locker which can be used as cupboard. They don’t bother about reservation because their kit bags are only friend in need of time. There is another beauty that one doesn’t need to take care of luggage since no chance of getting lost for its jumbo size.
Southern Railway introduced locomotives with higher hauling power that made sound-bound trains set to run faster. They eliminate unscheduled stoppage for crossings to facilitate higher speed and the train was happily running very fast. I was enjoying the rough terrain passing Madhya Pradesh. It sometimes kept climbing on a rocky highlands and plateau. Alas, there was no life visible. The entire Vindhya ranges are relatively a dry and arid landscape. The region suffers an extreme climate where the summers are extremely hot and the winters are too cold. The gruelling severe heat wave was almost intolerable and the presence of strong wind threatened us. We kept tight-lipped inside the sleeper.
But every sunset brings the promise of a new dawn. And soldier moves for a new venture.  The train moved through sea-line nearing Visakhapatnam in the evening.  The flying squad arrived to carry out random checks. They’re not interested in tickets but the excess luggage. While noticing my jumbo trunk they got into job. With a weighing scale, it went about to measure.  I tried to convince Inspector that it’s a necessity in defence not a convenience or luxury. We’ve our warrant for ticket as well as authorised weight while on transfer. Passengers are allowed to book and carry excess luggage beyond free allowance i.e. 80 kgs, in the compartment on payment of charges at 1.5 times of luggage rate. But the inspector was adamant and asked his men to pull out my trunk. I was very much upset by their behaviour.
It was nothing else in the box rather than full of inventory from uniforms to boots and belts, and a pair of beddings. He went on war of words towards passengers over luggage. Rail passengers are to pay six time penalty for carrying excess luggage. Railway authority knows that military has no option but excess baggage being towed into train compartments and that is there target to fulfil.
I tried to convey him politely that I’m ready to pay penalty provided you weigh it. You just can’t impose a lump sum penalty.  The box was packed with extra effort to accommodate maximum load.  It was difficult to measure while on move. However my inclination wasn’t true. They made up their mind to measure it. But the jumbo box was fixed up inside the berth. It tried hard to pull out but failed to do so as the only handle came out from the box.
Finally they left our cabin with much displeasure. Probably I used my mastery experience of confidence information that poor railway authority failed to understand a fauji. Soon I landed at Bangalore Cantonment another squad noticed at my jumbo trunk.  My entire friend had already arrived at the station to receive me. Before the squad goes for another verification of extra luggage, my friends took away my entire luggage in different direction towards out-gate. Fauji’s planned clinical operation was successful after an excess luggage war. That was exciting and hilarious journey. We giggled at some fauji joke after.
The writer is a former Air Warrior and currently working for SBI Dispur. He can be reached at [email protected]