My WaR WiTh WoRdS

The AIM of one’s life is to become AIMLESS

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Vivek Pradhan wasn't a happy man. Even the plush comfort of the
First Class air-conditioned compartment of the Shatabdi Express
couldn't cool his frayed nerves. He was the Project Manager and
still not entitled to air travel. It was not the prestige he sought, he
had tried to reason with the admin guy, it was the savings in
time. A PM had so many things to do!

He opened his case and took out the laptop, determined to put
the time to some good use.

"Are you from the software industry sir," the man beside him was
staring appreciatively at the laptop.

Vivek glanced briefly and mumbled in affirmation, handling the
laptop now with exaggerated care and importance as if it were an
expensive car.

"You people have brought so much advancement to the country sir.
Today everything is getting computerized."

'Thanks," smiled Vivek, turning around to give the man a
detailed look.

He always found it difficult to resist appreciation. The man was
young and stocky like a sportsman. He looked simple and strangely
out of place in that little lap of luxury like a small town boy in
a prep school. He probably was a Railway sportsman making the most
of his free traveling pass.

"You people always amaze me," the man continued, "You sit in an
office and write something on a computer and it does so many big
things outside."

Vivek smiled deprecatingly. Naivety demanded reasoning not anger.
"It is not as simple as that my friend. It is not just a question
of writing a few lines. There is a lot of process that goes behind
it." For a moment he was tempted to explain the entire Software
Development Lifecycle but restrained himself to a single
statement. "It is complex, very complex."

"It has to be. No wonder you people are so highly paid," came the
reply. This was not turning out as Vivek had thought. A hint of
belligerence came into his so far affable, persuasive tone.

"Everyone just sees the money. No one sees the amount of hard work
we have to put in." "Hard work!" "Indians have such a narrow
concept of hard work. Just because we sit in an air-conditioned
office doesn't mean our brows don't sweat. You exercise the
muscle; we exercise the mind and believe me that is no less

He had the man where he wanted him and it was time to drive home
the point. "Let me give you an example. Take this train. The
entire railway reservation system is computerized. You can book a
train ticket between any two stations from any of the hundreds of
computerized booking centers across the country.

Thousands of transactions accessing a single database at a given
time; concurrency, data integrity, locking, data security. Do you
understand the complexity in designing and coding such a

The man was stuck with amazement, like a child at a planetarium.
This was something big and beyond his imagination.

"You design and code such things."

"I used to," Vivek paused for effect, "But now I am the project

"Oh!" sighed the man, as if the storm had passed over, "so your
life is easy now."

It was like being told the fire was better than the frying pan.
The man had to be given a feel of the heat.

"Oh come on, does life ever get easy as you go up the ladder.
Responsibility only brings more work. Design and coding! That is
the easier part. Now I don't do it, but I am responsible for it
and believe me, that is far more stressful. My job is to get the
work done in time and with the highest quality. And to tell you
about the pressures! There is the customer at one end always
hanging his requirements, the user wanting something else and
your boss always expecting you to have finished it yesterday."

Vivek paused in his diatribe, his belligerence fading with
self-realisation. What he had said was not merely the outburst of
a wronged man, it was the truth. And one need not get angry while
defending the truth.

"My friend," he concluded triumphantly, "you don't know what it is
to be in the line of fire."

The man sat back in his chair, his eyes closed as if in realization. When
he spoke after sometime, it was with a calm certainty that surprised

"I know sir, I know what it is to be in the line of fire," He was
staring blankly as if no passenger, no train existed, just a vast
expanse of time.

"There were 30 of us when we were ordered to capture Point 4875 in
the cover of the night. The enemy was firing from the top. There
was no knowing where the next bullet was going to come from and
for whom. In the morning when we finally hoisted the tricolor at
the top only 4 of us were alive."

"You are a…"

"I am Subedar Sushant from the 13 J&K Rifles on duty at Peak 4875\
in Kargil. They tell me I have completed my term and can opt for a
land assignment. But tell me sir, can one give up duty just
because it makes life easier. On the dawn of that capture one of
my colleagues lay injured in the snow, open to enemy fire while we
were hiding behind a bunker. It was my job to go and fetch that
soldier to safety. But my captain refused me permission and went
ahead himself. He said that the first pledge he had taken as a
Gentleman Cadet was to put the safety and welfare of the nation
foremost followed by the safety and
welfare of the men he commanded. His own personal safety came
last, always and every time. He was killed as he shielded that
soldier into the bunker. Every morning now as I stand guard I can
see him taking all those bullets, which were actually meant for
me. I know sir, I know what it is to be in the line of fire."

Vivek looked at him in disbelief not sure of his reply. Abruptly
he switched off the laptop. It seemed trivial, even insulting to
edit a word document in the presence of a man for whom valor and
duty was a daily part of life; a valor and sense of duty which he
had so far attributed only to epical heroes.

The train slowed down as it pulled into the station and Subedar
Sushant picked up his bags to alight.
"It was nice meeting you sir."

Vivek fumbled with the handshake. This was the hand that had
climbed mountains, pressed the trigger and hoisted the tricolor.
Suddenly as if by impulse he stood at attention, and his right
hand went up in an impromptu salute.

It was the least he felt he could do for the country.

PS: The incident he narrates during the capture of Peak 4875 is a
true life incident during the Kargil war. Major Batra sacrificed
his life while trying to save one of the men he commanded, as
victory was within sight. For this and his various other acts of
bravery he was awarded the Param Vir Chakra – the
nation's highest military award.


Written by Ankur

May 3, 2006 at 11:10 am

Posted in Life, Special

4 Responses

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  1. well, that was a very moving story. But my question is, why do people start comparing the professions??? And this i m not asking as myself being a software engineer, just take it in general. And i wont even talk bout software engineering. I wont advocate it. Although i m certain that i can defend my statement even with that. But lets take it in general, in some other way.
    First, the soldier. Yeah i agree they r brave. But are they really fighting to keep us safe??? Well this is a stupid question as it may sound. But think it like this. only some 150 years ago, der was no india. der were mughals, der wer chandels, der wer nizams. All of them had a border, all of them had military. And all of them fought for their states. When their soldiers died they became martiers. But wer they dying to keep the people of their state safe??? No, they wer dying to keep safe just the ego, just the selfish interest of their rulers. And they fought, cos they wer paid for that.
    Now lets see the present scenario. We hav a bigger state and we call it country. We hav other bigger states and they r our neighboring countries. The situation is more or less same.
    So, wat we hav learnt till now??….. That countries and wars and borders are nothing but a mental situation grinded in our mind by a group of few selfish persons called politicians. And our soldiers or ne other soldier is fighting for that.
    If we really think, we sud be obliged to, who r guarding us, who r keeping us safe, then it sud be police ( of course i m talking bout honest policemen ). Personally i dont believe in fighting for a country. I will better be thankfull to the night watchman who keeps us safe and gives us sweet dreams. But no, we will not think of this. coz we r driven by someone else.
    At india gate, der is Amar-Jawan-Jyoti. And we all revere it. Have we ever thought who’s memorial is dat???
    Let me tell you. That was built as a memorial of all those indian soldiers who fought in da name of Britain and died in foreign land of Europe during the 2nd world war. And do we know that local indian parliament headed by Nehru was not willing to let india join that war?? But still later they wer allowed, cos britain promised a free india in return, a false promise. soldiers wer not willing to go der. They were forced. Wat sud i say dem?? martiers or killers, who killed the men who wer no way harming them, just coz in return they wer paid in silver coins?? wat was the difference in them and a todays contract killers….yes there is just one difference. these killlers cost more. Wat sud we call them ?? braves or cowards, who dint had the courage to die of hunger, instead they choose to kill to earn a day’s bread. But they r “shahid”. They r Amar Jawans. Only cos someone instructed us to call so.
    And again. how many wars india has fought after independence?? Just four. If we take kargil as a war. And for that we are paying aur 14 lacks strength of military and god kno how many other defence personnels for last more than 50 years. The respect we r paying them, dont u think dat is enough. Why cant we think their jiob just another profession. Stop paying dem and den see where is their love for nation. How many of them r standing on guard on borders.
    We employ security guards to guard our house and we expect those guards to salute us. Wat is the difference in those soldiers and these guards. Both of them r guarding us. both of them are guarding cos they r paid. Then why this dual treatment??? One is respected and the other is made to respect us???
    May be i m missing a few things which will contadict my view. But still my point is that why cant we think military as just another profession. Work is work. It sud not be compared like that. That article was gud in some way. but then it was trying to show the superiority of contributions made by a person to that of the other person. That is something i will never appreciate.

    sudhanshu kumar

    May 3, 2006 at 4:48 pm

  2. "it was trying to show the superiority of contributions made by a person to that of the other person" well i agree to that but do really think u can compare Military ppl with watchmens u dont think there is some difference in them. Its like comparing a blue wale with an ant but i guess this is not the rite way to think have u never imagined what all problems they have to face just because u dont know nething abt it and u think these all people r just fighting for the money and only money and if we remove them them what do u think will happen. What will happen is that China and Pakistan will atack us and capture ous teritory or even our nation Military is not abt money at all it is about passion and loving danger dying for the countery. u will also think in that same way for the revoloutionary freedom fighters which is not good at all only because we won indipendence (major contribution what most ppl think not me) because of GANDHI it is not that we can go totally for indipendence is it because of these me that our countery is progessing like that know y because there ppl have made our countery more strong like when ever pakistan have attacked us we have defended it like nething and have won in the end see what happned in for bangladesh (here) and u will know the inportance of these ppl and how hard their job is
    ok pal now never say like this again


    May 3, 2006 at 7:07 pm

  3. well said…”blue whale and ant”… that is wat i was thinking u will say. and indeed that is wat most of da people will say and der only my point stands. u saw only da size.
    and i can understand your sentiments. dont think that i donno nething bout wat problems they face or bout wat turmoils they go through. I am a son of a military man. And i m proud of that.
    and i kno its not all bout money. Its bout passion and its bout love for the country. Dint u observe while kargil war was going on, how many non military people were ready to join forces? yes its bout the love for the country. Just because someone is not in military, dat doesnt mean that he doesnt love his country. and dat doesnt mean that he will hav to be in debt of neone standing at da border. I can serve my country better sitting in a AC office on an ergonomic chair.
    My friend the time is gone when power meant raw military power. Now its da economy that is balancing. Its india’s growing economy that is keeping its borders safe. its india’s growing economy dat has kept china at bay. Its india’s economy that has made the world accept its nuclear capability. Its india’s economy that has made the nations, once supporting pakistan, to support india. Its india’s trade with US that has made US stop promoting pakistans military programs against india.
    So, stop comparing them and let them do their work. Its a really foolish thing to compare blue whale and ant. Compare a blue whale with another blue whale and an ant with another ant.

    sudhanshu kumar

    May 3, 2006 at 8:28 pm

  4. Well pal its good to know u r a son of a military personal and its rite lets not compare the unequals thankx


    May 3, 2006 at 9:02 pm

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