17 years have passed, and 17 Kumaon is still my parachute. I was desperately looking for my army photos. Then it struck me….why not ask the Unit for help? Within 8 hours, I got these gems from 1995-96, with the promise of more to follow. The Unit always comes through.
These photos triggered memories.
These are the men who made me what I am. They trained me. Yes, they were very tough taskmasters. After all, their brief was simple “Defend India, whatever the cost”. They could not have been gentle.
I remember the nights of sheer exhaustion, running with sand packs in the burning desert, endless map reading classes, weapons training, radio telephony, first aid…it went on an on.
Many a time I fell down and sometimes my knees just gave way. But they were relentless. No mercy. “You cannot be soft and defend India”, they said.
My body would scream in agony. They told me that toughness is in the mind…learn to ignore pain, cold, heat and hunger. You are a soldier, they said.
And then there were the Kumaoni troops, men of the mountains. Strong, brave, honourable and tough. They were men of character. My seniors told me that to lead them you had to be worthy. If you were worthy, a Kumaoni would follow you to the very gates of hell. And if it was a matter of “Izzat” he would even fight the gods. The Kumaonis had no fear of death. They proved that in Kashmir.
I am no longer in the Unit. But I am still a part of it. My seniors still guide me. They are still unsparing. 17 summers have passed, but in many ways I am still held to account if I go wrong.
After all these years, and for all of us, the center of gravity remains what it was, and what it will always be…Paltan ki Izzat.
The Unit is not just an organisational group, a mathematical collection of men. It is a breathing entity. With our blood and sweat we nurture the unit. And the unit nurtures us.
Yes, there is an invisible umbilical cord that binds us to the Unit. One day, we will all die. But the Unit will live.
The Unit is immortal.
Jai Ram Sarv Shaktiman. Kalika Mata Ki Jai.
Major Gaurav Arya (Veteran)
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