It was a fulfillment of a dream. A dream come true. As my Commanding Officer tossed the  maroon beret and the Balidan Medal towards me standing right in front of the portrait of the persona I revere most,  adorning the wooden paneled officer’s mess wall; and said “Welcome to Skull Dagger gang, you spoiled brat !

I glided my gaze once more over to Capt Paul Bastine’s face in the portrait and kept staring at the eyes in a state of utter disbelief till the grand news slowly sank into me that I was now a part of Capt.Paul Bastine‘s battalion, thereby a skull-dagger guy!

During the ensuing break that I was granted on getting selected to  nine, I reached home in Kerala and with the hunger of a seasoned historian started my compilation of facts and figures on Capt.Paul Bastine.

I could chronicle most of the enthusiasm; passion and dream which constituted Capt M Paul Bastine and while at it had the good fortune to interact with Sir’s blessed family members too. But when I placed this folder for the perusal of my CO, he just kept it to a side and said, “Son, he belongs to the skies, and don’t ever drag him back to the earth down below by mapping him.”

Yes. Capt Paul Bastine is consented to be a very prominent bright star in the skull dagger constellation up there in the sky by all the members of the gang worthy of their salt. He, with his matchless zeal and personality could whip up enough passion in the men he lead that they would spring out from the peace, safety and comfort of their cozy abode and set forth to face the challenges ahead unmindful of the grave personal dangers in store.

He was simply  the man among men. A gifted leader who would lead from front and an adventurer who loved to face challenges head on. He could therefore, mould his team and raise them to such levels of detachment from worldly longings that they could bet their life on a flip of a coin, and be utterly unaffected by the outcome, all for the cause of national honor and mother India’s pride.

How do/ why do such people live? Live to die?

They live, so that they can serve, serve the country. Serve with honor and serve with pride.They die so that they can live for ever. In death they find life, eternal. For they hope to live in our thoughts, in our breath, in our minds. For generations and generations to come. Unless we decide otherwise.

To every man upon this earth

Death cometh soon or late.

And how can man die better

Than facing fearful odds,

For the ashes of his fathers,

And the temples of his gods……. Macaulay

And finally when the heavens required a hero up there, they chose, the best one around, they chose Capt. M Paul Bastine.

When I see the hoisted National Flag outside my office waving gently  in the slow breeze blowing past it,  its vivid colors of saffron, white and green shining in the golden sunshine of the young morning sun,  my heart fills with the memory of all those soldiers known and unknown who gave up their todays to keep our tomorrows safe.

The Kargil Heights as the intruders turned tail
The Kargil Heights as the intruders turned tail

All those who gave their lives to keep our Flag up there, flying, until it dawns on me yet again that I am an Indian, first, and last. But, there is a small voice, right from an unknown corner of my heart that starts echoing the parting words of Rambo in First Blood – my childhood hero I grew upon, and it joins the chorus with all those brave hearts  “the soldiers gone; Do our country love us as much as we love it ? But then Ours is not to reason why. Ours is but to do or die.

Lest we forget. I hope and pray.Not one more 26/11. Not on my watch.

Jai Hind. Independence Day Wishes.

11 Responses

  1. Cool Prince. I really enjoyed those football days and also cricket days in school….I am really longing to see those grounds once again as I have never gone back to school after leaving….I just cannot forget Unni Sir as he was the one who selected me into the football team which went to Kapurthala……

    Wish you and all my Sainik school buddies a very happy Onam..

  2. satchi,
    thanks for reminding me our football days
    i just tried a bit to document some of our excitement during those
    exciting days in my write up on unni sir.

    please try and add more

  3. Satchi,
    F*** the tourny
    we did enjoy right?
    the french holidays, the train journey, interacting with friends from other schools many of them i’ve bounced into later on.
    buddy those were days
    but then sadly, the truth is that you are very accurate with your observation regarding our stupid strategy and their superior skills.
    may be our kids can take revenge.

  4. Ya Prince, I remember that and I do remember Kipgen, captain of Manipur football team, what a player he was!!!. Nice to hear you met him. I still remember our team used to practise next to the Manipuri team and we used to deliberately practise poorly (in front of them) just to make them feel overconfident (which was a stupid theory), the effect was so much that they went on to win the tournament itself….they were a vastly superior side as far as quality of the game was concerned than any other team which had come for the tournment….

  5. Sachi,

    you remember while in kapurthala we bunked and fetched a tank ride from an armoured detachment deployed outside the campus. those days militancy was at its peak if u recall and bunking (if got caught) would have invited nothing less than dismissal. Man, how we longed to do things each day which scared us.

    Do you also remember that guy Kipgen from Manipur Sainik school who was a star player and used to entertain us with his martial arts talents.
    using my contacts I traced him in manipur. He is into freight business. a big guy locally and a wonderful guy.
    I also ventured to rescue him from some thick shit, thanks to our association on football field during wonder years.

  6. Sainik school type
    Got into infantry
    Volunteered into special forces (9)
    Stuck to his pledge of giving up life for the cause of Nation’s security

  7. Hi Prince, all your writeups are superb…..I am proud that you are a Major now. Prince, do you remember that incident in Kapurthala Sainik School, Punjab, in a get-together with the boys there, you were about to crack a sardarji joke in front of the sardarjis, you almost said sarrrdaji, then I held you back and you replaced that character with some other..hhaha……..Wish you a Happy Independence Day…Jai Hind…

  8. Dear guys
    Happy Independence day. May our country grow from strength to strength.
    Mera Bharath Mahan. I love my India

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