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Shilpa Lakkaniki



Shilpa Lakkaniki


When The Letter Got Caught!!

When The Letter Got Caught!!

7 mins 20.2K 7 mins 20.2K

Courtship” another name for knowing each other better. A phase very rosy and free from convention. This episode happened when I was working with Ivy Comptech and GC Megha Shyam, Gentlemen Cadet as they called them in the Training Academy, Chennai; was undergoing training and was experiencing the transformation from a lad to an Officer. We were in our 22’s and 23’s and were defining our careers and alongside engrossed in the long distance relationship.

For any relation to flourish and nurture, the most important factor that ensures this happens is communication. Those were days when mobile phones were rarely seen. Shyam was not allowed to possess a phone in the academy and since I was not a gadget freak, I did not bother to keep one. I used to call him from an STD booth near my house. The catch here is that the training was so hectic that the cadets were busy all the time as in 24/7.

There was only one landline in the barracks and the time allowed for the cadets to speak to families was 9:30 pm to 10:00 pm. I was not allowed to go out all alone during this time so I used to take my dad along with me to the STD booth, once in a week and would try for 10 to 15 minutes dialling the landline number, in a hope that I would get to hear the ring as it would be mostly busy. This frequency of calling helped me talk to him once a month or sometimes if I was lucky, twice a month. After all this effort, we could speak for 2 to 3 minutes. I remember an interesting conversation that happened during this period.

Since the phone rang randomly, any of the cadets would lift the phone, and hand it over to the concerned cadet. Everyone in the barracks knew that Shyam had a girlfriend and that was “Me”. Once when I called, one of the cadet asked me, “Maam are you Shyam’s girlfriend?” when I said yes, he asked me another question, “Maam do you know Shyam is madly in love with you?”

As he asked me instantly, I did not know what to answer. The truth is I actually got flattered with the question but then I said, “Tell me something new, I know this very well! Now can you please give the phone to him?” I still don’t know how I could answer like, that!

To overcome this gap of communication we used to write letters to each other. I still have those 40 to 50 letters, which we wrote and might publish them as a book someday...the courtship between a soldier in the making and the love of his life “Me!”

The rest of the story I will want my husband to narrate because sometimes hearing from the horse’s mouth, gives that dimension of a real time experience. So for now it’s “Over and Out” from my side!

Hey folks!! I am Major Shyam, and am besieged with excitement to narrate this occurrence which is a cocktail of emotions. A feeling of Pride to fall in love; a subtle haughtiness of young blood.

Life at the academy was tough, busy, rugged and at times fun too! A sword before taking its shape in the mould is molten metal and undergoes lot of trouncing, before it actually gets converted into an edged sword. So was it for the cadets, who were trained tough so that they could turn into brave officers and men of steel; who shouldered the responsibility of protecting their motherland.

The cadets were divided into larger groups called “Company”; I belonged to the Phillora Company. The tag line of our Company was “Fighter Phillora” and we took immense pride to holler out the tag line when we wanted to motivate each other during tasks. The cadets in the company were divided into squads. A squad was a combination of 4 or 8 cadets and irrespective of whether we were riding on a cycle, walking or running we had to go around in squads. The schedule was so packed that we had no time to breathe. PT in the morning, Drill in the drill square, Breakfast and then classes in the NT area (this was an open space). NT area was a place for conducting training. Tents were pitched and the instructor would conduct the sessions in the tents and sometimes we would role play the subject for better insight.

Evening time was study time from 7:00pm to 8:00pm. The letters that the cadets would receive from their families were kept on their respective tables, and in the evening when it was study time I would secretly read my letters. It was such solace to see a letter which was addressed on my name.

It was yet another chock-a-block day for us and the session scheduled for the NT area was “Tactics” a killer subject. The day before, I received a letter from chweety, my girlfriend. I was reading the reference book for tactics and slid the letter into the book after reading it partly. Later when the hectic day was called off, I slept dreaming about her, but I had no clue what trouble was awaiting for me the next day.

The next day when were half way through the tactics session, the recess for tea was announced. It was around 11:00 am and there was a lot of breeze in the NT area. All the cadets lined up with their tea mugs to relish tea. I just don’t remember how my book opened, and the letter in the book flew and fell at our instructors’ feet. Since it was an Inland letter he could easily make it out.

Our instructor was “Khajji” as we all called him. He was the most feared officer in the Training Academy. Smart, 6 feet tall, fit, well built officer. He had beard and wore a turban as he was a sardar. He dressed beyond perfection and had the gait of a tiger. He used to come in a black Indigo car or on a bullet. When the cadets used to see these vehicles in the premises they would take it for granted that their happiness for that night was had, because of the kind of fall- in’s he conducted. A fall-in happens when all the cadets assemble and are punished for their mistakes.

He read the name on the letter, and shouted loudly. GC Shyam come here! I was ignorant of all this and was happily sipping tea. One of the members of my squad told me Khajji was calling me. I immediately left the mug and went to him.

I stood in attention and said aloud “Yes Sir!”

He asked me, “This letter belongs to you? Who wrote it?”

I said loudly “My girlfriend sir!”

He then tried to read the letter but could not understand a word because the letter looked like it was in English but the language that was written was Telugu.

He said “Bloody joker! carry letters to the session and shamelessly tell me that it’s your girlfriends letter! Get into tank position immediately!”

In a fraction of a second, I got into tank position. In this position, the toes and head touch the ground and the body looks like an arch. The hands are in a tied up position and rest on the hips. The whole weight of the body is borne by the head and toes.

He said loudly “You are attending the remaining session today in the tank position! Till I pass instructions you will continue to be like this!”

I shouted back “Yes Sir!”

All the cadets were witnessing this and I am sure it was a good piece of entertainment amidst a session like Tactics. It was around 11:30 am and all the cadets resumed for the session. I was in the same position till 1:00 pm. At 1:00pm Khajji came back and asked me to stand up. I stood in attention.

He said “From now on ask her to write in English and not any other language, is that clear GC!”

I replied aloud with a smile on my face “Yes Sir!”

All through this occurrence I had a naughty smile on and not a single sign of remorse appeared on my face. I promised myself one thing on that day, I would never ever keep my letters in my reference books. However, it was like I took a sense of pride to take punishment and became famous as lover boy in the Company, as it was a very special letter indeed that “Got caught!”

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