In a post shared by Ahmedabad resident Esha Shah on Facebook, one gets to read a firsthand account of a ‘Soldier never being Off-Duty’.
As much as men and women in uniform generate huge admiration and respect, little do most people know how overwhelmingly hectic and unpredictable life can get for them. Holidays and vacations are forsaken when duty calls, and spending quality family time is a luxury that these folks experience very sporadically.
I can personally vouch for this, as my father served in the defence for about three decades. Several vacations and plans have gone for a toss because my father was duty-bound to serve the nation above everything else, and there have been times when he was away from home for a prolonged period of time. Truth be told, I secretly envied my friends from ‘civilian’ backgrounds who would be surrounded by all their family members during holidays and festivals.
For Ahmedabad resident Esha Shah, however, overhearing the conversations of a young man on the phone, as they stood in a queue at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Airport a few days before Diwali, was an eye-opening moment.
As the conversation progressed, it became apparent to Esha that the gentleman was a Naval officer who was heading home for holidays, but found out that his leave had been cancelled moments before he was ready to board the flight.
Not only was she impressed by the officer’s gracious acceptance of the orders passed down from the top echelons, but was also rather overwhelmed by the fact that many things that we take for granted in our daily lives are actually a luxury for the folks in uniform.
As a gesture of gratitude, Esha and her companion offered the officer their place in the queue. Furthermore, she took to social media to share this touching episode as an ode to not just this young officer but also countless other defence personnel who risk their lives on a day-to-day basis so that we get to sleep peacefully at night.
“For him serving our country against the odds, a 5min (sic) jump-the-queue was ridiculously insignificant, but that was the only thing we could offer in order to convey our THANK YOU, which I also told him in as many words,” she wrote in her post.
You can read the entire post here:
I usually refrain from sharing much from my daily experiences because they are mine to learn from. But what happened today, choked me and slapped me back to the reality that all of us take for granted.
Here is an account of my encounter with one of the many Heroes, at the Mumbai Airport, this evening.
A young gentleman, walks to me and asks in a crisp yet friendly tone, “Ma’m, is this the queue?”. As i affirm it, he smiled and stood behind us to make a series of phone calls. This is how they panned out.
The first phone call opened with a “Jai Hind, Sir.” This call progressed to a series of “Aye, Sir” & “Yes, Sir” and a single mention of – “Lekin Sir, i’m on a leave” amidst a lot of acknowledgement to the apparent commands being ordered from the other end. Willingly and respectfully he ends this call to make the next one.
This one opened with “Mumma, meri chutti cancel hogayi hai” and progressed to informing about the posting and number of days he was going to be away for aside of the necessary assurances and consolations.
The third phone call opened with a beautiful name and a giggle followed by an “I Love You too”. This phone call transcended into loving consolation, apology, and promises of compensation, all in a deeply saddened voice.
The fourth phone call was made to the fellow officer informing him of the development and how this time the posting is for over 160+ days.
By the end of the second call, i had already started crying. It did not take an Einstein to figure that this was an officer from the Indian Armed Forces whose leave for Diwali just got revoked and yet displayed no sign of deterrence because he knew what he had signed up for.
We lived his upward graph of emotions with him, in real time, as he put our country before his personal desires.
As he ended the fourth call, Rohan and i, in a cosmic synchronisation turned around and gestured him to step ahead of us in the queue. He gracefully declined but we insisted. For him serving our country against the odds, a 5min jump-the-queue was ridiculously insignificant but that was the only thing we could offer in order to convey our THANK YOU, which i also told him in as many words.
Sub Lieutenant N.T. of Indian Navy, it was prestigious to have met you. To you and all your league, we salute. Thank you for protecting our entitled little lives. Thank you.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)