Resilience Episode 4

A Reputation Tarnished

18 months passed by, and the training of the new batch was complete. Post the final assessment, it was revealed that out of the 40000 candidates that had joined, only 35000 people qualified to be security elites including Karan, Shekhar, Jenny, Poorna and Avesh.

“I can’t believe Avesh qualified. That slime ball… he still stalks me, and irritates me.” Jenny exclaimed.

“Well, he is good at what he is, but not all men are like Karan or Shekhar. And if he had been irritating you, why haven’t you complained about it?” asked Poorna.

“I could have… I should have… yet, I don’t know. He hasn’t made any such advances towards me that could be serious enough to complain about.  I need solid proof of what he is up to, and the fact that he is still here is because I haven’t come across any other woman complaining against him.” said Jenny.

“Hmmm…that is strange, maybe he likes you… and is being flirtatious. Yet, his intentions are not really clear. Have you discussed this with Karan and Shekhar?” asked Poorna.

“They are aware, it is not that I need them or want them to ‘protect’ me for such an issue. Even Karan told me to raise this issue, however, I declined. He didn’t discuss much about it after that.” Said Jenny.

“Well, there is no discussion. He knows your worth considering what you did to him in the first day of combat training.” Said Poorna, with a giggle.

Jenny stared at Poorna, she smiled and then blushed while remembering that incident.

“Yo girls!! Congratulations and celebrations!!” Shekhar greeted.

The girls turned around and greeted back.

“Where is Karan?” Poorna asked.

“You don’t know. And Jenny, what are you doing here? The girls are looking for you.” Shekhar responded.

“Why? What happened?” Jenny asked confused.

“Come on, Jenny. You are being modest now. You have top scored with 99.97%, and have broken an age old BASE record. Karan is at a narrow second… 99.95%. While the boys and girls are hailing Karan, they are also looking for you. They have even ordered a cake for both of you.” Said Shekhar.

Jenny was surprised, and after hearing about Karan’s performance, a smile sprouted.

“Let’s go, I don’t want to miss my own party.” Said Jenny.

Shekhar and Poorna laughed at that comment, they quickly headed to the training hall and indeed, found that the candidates had brought a cake. A lot of senior officers including the General and the Major General joined in to congratulate the candidates, the group saw the General congratulating Karan, they joined in and sure enough, the General shook hands with Jenny too amidst a thunderous applause.

“Sir, a picture please with the top 5.” Said the official photographer of BASE.

“Oh yes, please.” Said the General.

While Jenny and Karan stood with the General, Poorna, Shekhar and another candidate joined in for the photo. Jenny stared at Poorna and Shekhar, she was shocked to know that they were all in the top 5.

After the photo session, Jenny confronted Shekhar and Poorna, “You love birds are also in the top 5, and you didn’t tell me.”

“Well, Jenny… what can I say! We are a bond so strong, even our performances have proved that. We are inseparable and all I pray for is that in the coming time, we remain the best… in our friendship, in our life, our performance… and our destiny too.” Said Karan.

“Not for long maybe. As I said, we will be assigned to different squads. We may get a chance to bond during breaks or maybe on an outing, however, when in a squad, we will have to live and work according to the culture of that squad.” Said Shekhar, looking concerned.

Karan nodded his head in disagreement and said, “Don’t worry, Shekhar. If that is the case, we will take every opportunity to meet up. Do not be concerned about it and wreak your mind about being separated. We are friends but at the end of the day…we are soldiers and we have a job to do.”

The others agreed at Karan’s statement. That very moment, Major Ratan had an announcement to make, “Alright, people, listen up. Once again congratulations to all of you on your graduation. BASE has a tradition to welcome the new recruits on board. It started off with something solemn, though I don’t want to discuss about it considering it was really boring. Times have changed and in keeping with the changing times, BASE is hosting a party in your name.”

There were loud cheers among the graduates. Major Ratan somehow silenced everyone again and continued, “You are all welcome to the party. It is a start of a journey… a journey to glory, to be a winner, to be the ultimate security elite bred to combat against the ills of this society. We never know what our future holds but there is no use worrying about it. Life is short, so… live it to the maximum and enjoy the party. Cheers!!!”

Cheers and howling erupted again, Karan walked up to Shekhar and said, “Time to bring out the singer in you. Opportunities like this cannot be missed.”

Shekhar stared at Karan and reacted, “I warn you, Karan… you open your mouth and put me in trouble at the party, I will rip you apart.”

“We will see about that, dude. Time to light the party on fire.” commented Karan.

3 days after the graduation ceremony, a grand party was hosted and almost everyone who graduated turned up. As Karan and Shekhar moved towards the entrance, they checked their attire.

“I hope this is enough” said Shekhar.

“Oh come on! A handsome guy like you… wear nothing and you will still have girls thronging you.” Commented Karan, as Shekhar scowled at him, not amused by it.

As they entered the party hall, the party had already begun and people had hit the dance floor.

“Well, what do you know? The place is already heating up.” Said Karan, as he watched the ladies in their hottest attires, something which even Shekhar couldn’t take his eyes off.

As they came forward, Shekhar’s eyes fell on someone familiar. It was Poorna in a pink mini skirt and Shekhar looked at her from top to bottom.

“Whoa, whoa, brother… easy, stop staring like that.” Said Karan.

“She is looking so beautiful. I mean… just look at her.” Said Shekhar, his hands were shivering now.

“Well, that she is. No doubt about it.” Karan agreed.

Shekhar noticed someone else too and looked at Karan confused.

“What happened, Shekhar? Why are you looking at me like that?” Karan asked.

Shekhar took a grip of himself, took a deep breath and with a smile asked, “Well, Karan… have you become blind? Look who is dancing with Poorna?”

Karan stared at Shekhar confused and then looked at the lady dancing with Poorna. It was time for Karan’s jaw to drop. It was Jenny, in a black mini skirt. Karan could only stare at her as Shekhar started to giggle uncontrollably.

“Just look at her Shekhar. She is not just beautiful… she is a Goddess.” Karan commented.

As the music changed, Jenny and Poorna now noticed Karan and Shekhar, they called them out to dance with them.

“Well, Karan… didn’t you say you wanted to light the party on fire? Let us show them who the boss is.” Said Shekhar.

Karan smiled in agreement and the duo joined the ladies. They danced to the fullest enjoying every moment. Soon, the music changed to a more romantic theme. Karan realizing the change looked at Jenny; the latter also could just stare at him.

“I don’t know whether to make the first move. I am not sure if… if… Karan, what are you thinking?” Jenny thought still looking at Karan.

Karan couldn’t take his eyes of Jenny. He looked into her eyes and thought, “Should I jump in? Should I invite her for this dance? Maybe… maybe, next time. I am ready to wait. I am ready to give ourselves the time to know each other.”

Karan and Jenny then saw Poorna putting her arms around Shekhar while the latter, without a second thought touched her waist. They danced looking nowhere except each other. Karan looked at Jenny again and said, “Let us go and find a place to sit. We will join them once the music changes.”

Jenny was at first taken aback. She felt a bit disappointed but then realized that Karan was feeling shy. She thought, “So my handsome gentleman is quite shy. No issues… I am ready to wait.”

The couple walked away from the dance floor and found a place to sit. They watched the people dance as they enjoyed having some light snacks and drinks. Shekhar and Poorna were then tired from their dancing and therefore, walked away from the dance floor and joined them at the table.

“I never knew BASE could hold such an amazing party.” Said Poorna.

“They hold it every year… not just for the graduates, but for everyone. It is a way of socializing where the juniors get to meet the seniors albeit in a more informal way than a solemn way.” said Shekhar.

Suddenly, the music stopped and everyone was either surprised or disappointed. Then, Major Ratan stepped up on the dance floor and welcomed the guest, “Good evening people. I hope you are enjoying the party. I want to hear it from all of you.”

Everyone present cheered and howled in agreement.

Major Ratan continued, “Sorry for stopping the music abruptly like this. I thought that… everyone of us over here have a hidden talent. You people have come to become the ultimate security elites; however, there are definitely people here who are good dancers or singers. So… anybody who wants to showcase their hidden talent, now is the time.”

There were murmurs going around after the announcement with each group trying to push their friends to dance or sing. Karan decided to drop the bomb on Shekhar.

“Sir, let us begin with the one of the top performers. Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you, the singing sensation… SHEKHAR!!!” Karan announced and it was followed by loud cheers among everyone.

Poorna stared at Shekhar and then at Jenny, the latter was also taken aback by this development.

Shekhar got up from his seat and pulling Karan close, whispered in his ears, “What the hell, Karan!  I told you to keep your mouth shut!”

“Come on, buddy!! You have a talent that the world needs to know. Why do you want to hide that? You dreamt of being a security elite, and that dream has been fulfilled but this… this is your passion… and you never know where our passion can take us. This is your chance.” Karan tried to motivate Shekhar, the latter listened and with a deep sigh, yielded.

He walked to the dance floor, took the mike from Major Ratan, looked at the crowd and with a smile, sang a few popular numbers. The crowd including Karan, Jenny and Poorna swooned over his voice. Some of the songs were romantic numbers and Shekhar was even more motivated looking at Poorna looking nowhere but him. After, Shekhar finished, there was thunderous clapping and as he walked away from the dance floor, a lot of people including seniors too were patting his back.

Motivated, more people walked on to the dance floor to showcase their talent, some were good dancers, some were singers… there were a few poets and stand up comedians too… and after that, music started to play again. Dinner was served, some decided to have their fill while the others continued to dance.

Suddenly, there was a commotion. Shekhar, Jenny and Poorna who were dancing couldn’t understand what was happening at first but when they saw the reason, they were shocked. It was Karan who was behaving like a mad man. It looked as though he had drank a lot and was now not in his senses. He was yelling at the top of his voice, dancing like crazy and was repeatedly falling down.

Shekhar walked ahead and tried to control him, however, Karan pushed him back. The music was stopped and everyone was watching in disgust. Jenny came forward, not able to believe what was going on. Karan then spotted Jenny and somehow, moved close to her.

“What have you done, Karan? Why are you behaving like this?” Jenny thought.

Karan was not in his senses; he walked towards Jenny and started passing lewd comments much to everyone’s shock. Shekhar and Poorna couldn’t believe what they were hearing. Tears welled up in Jenny’s eyes, angered she punched Karan so hard that the latter fell to the ground and was knocked out.

That very moment, General Bakshi came out with his officials to check what the commotion was all about. Seeing Karan lying on the floor, he looked at Major Ratan. Major Ratan explained what happened, there was no expression on the General’s face, however it was certain he wasn’t happy.

“The party is over, people. Go back to your rooms. We will discuss about this at BASE.” The  General ordered and the people had to listen. Disappointed, the people left the party floor. Poorna walked towards Jenny, the latter was still in tears and looking at Karan. Shekhar walked towards Karan to check on him and then looked at Jenny; the latter wiped her tears and walked out of the party hall.

The next day, Karan was called to the trial room. He realized that he was at fault for whatever happened and decided to remain silent. He listened to the eyewitness accounts carefully, and one thing was certain that no one had any clue as to what lead to him going haywire when just a few minutes before, he was in his senses. Finally, it was Jenny who gave her account of the incident. There was hesitation in her voice, yet she still went ahead with her account. Karan was shocked when he got to know of the lewd comments that he had passed towards Jenny, he tried hard to remember what had happened yet he couldn’t.

“Cadet Karan, you have heard the eyewitness accounts. Do you have anything to say in your defence?” The General asked.

Karan sighed deeply and said, “I am not much of a drinker, sir and that is something Shekhar just told about me. I drank only about 2 pegs at the party which is not enough for any one to go out of their senses. This is enough to prove, sir that someone spoiled my drink which led to whatever happened after that. That is all I can say in my defence, sir.”

Murmurs followed after Karan’s comment. Shekhar, Jenny and Poorna looked at each other, they felt that Karan had a point, so did all the other people. The General raised his hands indicating everyone to be quiet.

“All we have with us is eyewitness accounts and a few video clips that just shows that you were not in your senses. If you or anyone over here has any proof that someone spoiled your drink and there is no fault of yours, you will not have to face any charges.” Said the General.

Karan kept silent while all the other people, including Shekhar, Poorna and Jenny checked their mobiles to find anything that can prove the former’s innocence but not a single person had any video of anyone spoiling Karan’s drink. The General had no other option but to bring the trial to a conclusion.

“Until and unless you have something to prove your innocence, there is nothing we can do for you. What you did may not be a heinous crime, yet your behaviour and irresponsibility at the party is not what is expected from a security elite. You are the top performer of this batch and that is the only reason why we will see to it that your punishment is not severe and you receive the consideration that you deserve. However, Ms. Jenny, if you would please stand up.” Said the General.

Jenny stood up, after which the General asked her a question that put her in a fix, “Ms. Jenny, when a person is drunk, he reveals nothing but the truth. There is no exaggeration or manipulation of facts, which is one of the reason why alcohol is also considered by many as… a last resort solution to get the truth out from a person.

That being said, Karan over here last night passed those lewd comments and they were directed only towards you which means that he has revealed what was on his mind… whether you both like it or not.

So Ms. Jenny, we ask you whether you will want to press any charges against this man?”

Jenny couldn’t answer the question, she felt choked and was on the verge of shedding tears. She could only look at Karan and think, “Did you do it on purpose? Is there something that you want to tell me? You were always open to me, to all of us… what are you hiding? Why are you silent?”

Karan couldn’t look at Jenny, he was filled with remorse and all he could do was to keep silent and accept whatever punishment was to be given to him.

Poorna nudged at Shekhar and asked, “Shekhar, what if she presses charges against Karan? What will you do? Say something, Shekhar.”

“There is nothing we can do. Karan has committed a mistake and like it or not, he should face the charges put towards him.” Said Shekhar.

Jenny sighed deeply and looking at the General, said, “I don’t want to press charges against him. What he has done, he is guilty for it and that is enough. He is one of the best performers and I don’t want his career to be spoiled because of this incident. He deserves to be a given a second chance and I know, if given, he will prove himself… and I will wait for that day.”

There were murmurs again in the trial room, there were some who smile and acknowledged whatever Jenny said and then, there were those who were not happy with that. Poorna looked at Shekhar again, the latter was smiling. He got up from his seat and went outside.

Back to main

Advertisements

Blurred

I stand in front of the mirror with the thing in my hand, a thing which I always looked at other people wearing and couldn’t help laughing at them. I also dreaded that thing and vowed never to touch it than wearing it. However, fate was without a promise.

I was in my 9th standard, it was just another day as I woke up from my bed to get ready for school. I dressed up, had my breakfast, checked my bag to see if I had taken everything and then started off from my home towards the bus stand. As I walked, I could sense that something was wrong. The world was looking blurred to me. The street signs, banners and posters that I always loved to read while going for a stroll were unreadable now and I couldn’t understand why.

When I reached the bus stand, the number of the bus that left a few seconds back was unreadable and I couldn’t understand whether it was the one that I needed to board. As another came, I couldn’t help but ask the person standing next to me what the bus number was.

It was obvious that he looked at me confused, the weird expression that he gave was a first for me. He still answered that it was number 21, the one I should board to reach the school. I got on the bus still confused as to why the world suddenly started looking different… and blurred.

My experience at the school was also no different, I couldn’t read what was written on the blackboard. I was able to read the words on my textbooks and notebooks but anything further… even my friends were unrecognizable from a distance. I was now scared, a realization dawned over me that I needed help.

When I came home, I walked towards my mom and explained everything to her. There was no expression on her face. She knew what was wrong and immediately asked me have a wash, have some snacks and then dress up again. We were to meet somebody who knew the answer to this.

I was introduced to a specialist who was looking at me the same way a scientist… or actually, an alien was looking at an interesting human specimen. He checked every minute detail and once satisfied, looked at my mom and gave a cut nod indicating that there was a problem. My mom was disappointed with this new development, however, she still smiled at me which showed that she had accepted the change and it was time for me to accept it too.

The next day, I met the specialist again and he handed me over a box. I took it and opened it. There was the thing, my brand-new glasses and my mind went through all those moments where I made fun of people who used to wear it, that dreadful thing which I wanted to be away from but there was no use now. It was inevitable.

I took the thing in my hand and walked towards the mirror. The face of mine looked so good without the thing… I was not sure whether I would like the person I would be once I wear it. With a deep breath, I wore it on my eyes and the once blurred world looked crystal clear again. I felt sad and guilty at the same time, however, I realized that it could have been worse.

My vision had only blurred and all it took was a pair of glasses to solve the issue. However, there are those who are blind and there are those who lost their eyes due to an accident… my issue could have also been the same but it was not to be. Everything happens for a reason and therefore, I accepted my new look.

I wasn’t looking that bad, in reality, I was looking like a professor or some intellectual considering the kind of glasses I chose. My schoolmates were surprised to see my new look, some praised it, some laughed at me and some of them made fun of me. It was hard the first time, however, as time passed by, I got over it. Life was back to normal.

To all those who wear glasses, well, wearing glasses is also a style statement nowadays. So, if you are going in for new glasses someday, make sure you choose the hottest designs and not feel shy showing off to the world.

Spundan Dasgupta

spundandasgupta@gmail.com

Connect with me on Facebook

Note – This was one of my first stories that I had written way back in the year 2000, I was in my 8th grade when I got my eyes checked and had to wear spectacles. I felt what many would have felt while it and wrote this. Thought I do share it. Edited a bit, otherwise, the story is very much oriiginal.

Resilience Episode 3

Journey of A Security Elite Begins

Karan realized on the very first day of the training and development program that Shekhar was right. It was gruelling stuff as the candidates were subjected to harsh conditions – made to run around the campus without stopping, made to do cross-fits, asked to carry heavy loads from one point to another… what’s more, made to run on the staircase and reach the 500th floor. Only 3 people were able to achieve it – 2 of them being Shekhar and Jenny.

Karan couldn’t believe it; he could only reach the 280th floor after which he sat down panting heavily.

“This is insane… this is madness. You people are godlike and I am nothing in front of you.” Exclaimed Karan.

Shekhar gave him a bottle of water and then tried to motivate him, “Come on, buddy. You are not the kind of person who would quit so easily. Remember why we came here and for what purpose. This is just the first day… you will do well.”

Jenny was sitting and chatting with some of the girls; she turned around and glanced at Karan and Shekhar. She couldn’t help smiling looking at Karan who was still panting heavily and drinking bottle after bottle of water.

“It is about time we started getting along with the boys, however, I am not sure if the one’s in our batch are trustworthy.” Said Roshni.

“You will never know unless you talk with them. Some of the boys are good, some are decent… there are those who are really good looking and handsome, but you will never know unless and until we actually sit together, and get to know each other.” Said Poorna.

“Hmmm… so who is eagerly waiting for someone to come and approach us?” asked Disha, smiling at everyone.

The others, except, Jenny looked at her, looked at each other and then started giggling. Poorna then noticed Jenny still looking at Shekhar and Karan, and glanced at them too. Even she couldn’t help smiling at their antics. She then got up from her place and sat beside Jenny.

“So… which one do you like?” Poorna asked.

Jenny stared at Poorna, as if coming out of a trance, she stammered, “I…no… I was just looking at them… I wasn’t…”

“Come on, Jenny. Don’t lie to me.” Said Poorna, giving a nudge to Jenny.

Jenny took a grip of herself, she nodded her head in disagreement and said, “Girls, I don’t want to spoil your moods but… is it wrong to not have that kind of feeling for anyone. ”

The girls looked at Jenny, perplexed at that question.

“Don’t get me wrong but we are here training to be security elites. Even before graduation, we all have a sense of responsibility to ourselves and the citizens. We are all training to be someone who people will look up to and that is why we cannot be complacent by bringing out those little emotions like love, hate, jealousy… the likes.

We are going to be soldiers, we are not sure if we would live that long to even dream of going into a relationship or to have a family.

I am not saying that you people should not think about it. I am just saying that… I would prefer to stay away from those stuffs.” Jenny explained her situation.

The others looked at each other confused, however, Poorna understood everything.

“Jenny, you are saying as though a soldier is not supposed to have feelings towards anything. You cannot stop yourself from feeling something or being emotional… you can only control your emotions… and there is a difference of heaven and earth between stopping and controlling.

It is only by controlling our emotions can we think rationally about anything in life and that is what we need to learn as a soldier. You will come across situations where your emotions will get the better of you. That is when you need to control yourself and start to think, otherwise you will lose yourself in that soup and no one will come to rescue you.

Don’t worry about not being responsible as a soldier. Worry about the fact that as a soldier when people are going to look up to us as an inspiration, they shouldn’t see a person who will just stare at them… instead, you smile and wave at them and they will love that.” Said Poorna.

Jenny looked at Poorna, the latter’s words made her think hard. She did not respond to it though, she got up from her place and walked away unaware of the fact that there was someone who was checking on her for a long time. He took a sip of water from his bottle and started following her.

Jenny threw the bottle in a bin, grabbed two more from a station and turned around to accidently bump into the person following her. The bottles fell from her hands and she looked at the person alarmed.

“Oh, I am sorry. I didn’t do it on purpose.” Said the man.

Jenny didn’t respond. Irritated, she got down to pick up the bottles. The man decided to help saying, “Let me help you.”

“It is ok. I will pick them up.” As Jenny took the bottles, the man was still checking on her and was now looking at her cleavage.

Jenny was able to sense that the man was up to no good and looked at him with stern eyes; it didn’t do much effect as the man had a smile lingering on his lips. As they both got up, the man introduced himself, “Hi, my name is Avesh. I wish to congratulate you for reaching the target. Not many people can do it on the first go. I could only reach the 250th floor.”

Jenny did not respond, instead she walked away from there. The smile disappeared from Avesh’s face; looking at the direction Jenny went, he said to himself, “No way you can escape from me. One day, when the time is right… I will have my hands on every part of your body… and darling, I can’t wait for that day.”

In the evening, Shekhar dressed up to go for a stroll and walked towards Karan’s room. It was open and Shekhar could make out that Karan had dozed off snoring loudly. Shaking his head and smiling, he walked towards him to wake him up.

“Karan! Get up, bro, its 6pm… let us go for a stroll. You don’t want to miss the sunset and the spectacle that follows.” Said Shekhar.

Karan opened his eyes and looked at Shekhar, he responded, “Where do you get that energy to even think of going for a stroll after a tough day we had? You got be kidding me, right? I am not going anywhere. You go on, I will just relax.”

“Yeah, you can… but tell you what, it is evening. A lot of people are outside… and considering it is evening, a lot of girls would also be outside. You don’t want to miss so much of that hotness in this cool windy evening.” Shekhar commented.

That was enough to motivate Karan. He looked at Shekhar and smiled, “Seriously, buddy. You want me to get thrown out for real. By the way, you also seem interested… found someone to ogle your eyes on, I guess.”

“If I had that luck as similar to yours… and if I do, would you want me to miss it?” asked Shekhar, smiling mischievously.

“Not in a million years, bro. Give me a minute, I will get dressed.” Said Karan, as he jumped from his bed and went to the washroom.

At the BASE Park, many had gathered to watch the sunset… but that was not the only reason they were here.

“Are you seeing this? Even the General and Major General are here. I guess they see it every day.” Commented Shekhar.

“Wait a minute, bro! What is going on over here? All these people have thronged over here… looking at what?” asked Karan, confused.

“I am kind of impressed that you were interested in being a security elite yet did not do so much research on this organization. It is a pity that it is the most costly tourist attraction and not many people are lucky enough to see this spectacle. We… on the other hand are going to watch it for free. Let us not get close, but find a position on top of everyone.” Said Shekhar.

Karan still confused, looked at Shekhar and then spotted a tree house among many of them which was yet to be filled.

“Hurry up before that gets filled.” Said Karan rushing towards the tree house.

Shekhar followed closely, commenting, “Good Call, Soldier.”

The duo reached the tree house and found a proper spot. The people were looking at a giant statue that was built on the middle of the river. It was the statue of Rani Lakshmi Bai, the largest statue ever built… it stood at a height of 850 ft.

“Whoever built it took no stones unturned to make it as real as possible. The steed on which she rides looks as though it will come alive at any moment.” Said Shekhar.

On the left of the statue was a harbour where all passenger and commercial ships were docked, while on the right was where a lot of couples or families had come to enjoy a good evening boat ride. A laser barricade was created so that no civilian would accidently cross it and get hit by the ships sailing towards the harbour.

Karan spotted Jenny and Poorna standing close to the railings; they came quite early enough to watch whatever the spectacle was.

“Are you still going to keep this a secret? What is the spectacle all about?” asked Karan, still looking at Jenny.

“Well, buddy… Jenny is not the only spectacle over here. So just be patient.” Said Shekhar, grinning.

“Oh hell, Shekhar. Come on, man. Stop that nonsense.” Karan snapped.

“I must say… I have seen you stare at every girl out there but now, your eyes are fixed on just one. That is one hell of an achievement and there is a lot of scope for improvement.” Said Shekhar.

“Well, you got me on that one, Shekhar. There is something about her… something that I have never seen in any other woman. I am not a fortune teller… but I know that she has all the potential to be a great soldier, a potential I see in you too, Shekhar. You both showed it on our first day of training.

What am I, Shekhar? I don’t want to underestimate myself but I will end up being a regular soldier, lost in that soup doing wet work… watching everyone I know achieve greatness while I stay behind and clap my hands at those people.

Even if death comes to befriend me, it won’t be a glorious day… it will be just another regular day where I would just smile at death and accept that friend request.” Said Karan.

Shekhar nodded his head in disagreement, and patting Karan’s back, said, “I know you, Karan. Sometimes, all we need is a chance… and when that comes, you will get to prove your worth. Be patient.”

As the sun began to set, Shekhar tapped Karan to look at the statue. By that time, even the crowd noticed the same with everyone yelling and pointing their fingers at the statue. Karan looked at it and realized why it was a spectacle to behold.

As the sun slowly set, the colour of the statue turned from black to blue and then after a few moments it became violet. As if that was not enough, there were engravings on the statue and for some reason due to the sun’s rays and atmospheric lights, the engravings started to light up one after the other. The spectacular light show lasted for about 5 minutes before it stopped and loud cheers and clapping followed.

Shekhar explained the phenomenon, “There is a reason why it is a costly attraction. It is said that the people who erected this had no such plans. The statue was just built and erected here, and then one fine day, at the same time, the sculptors saw this and were dumbfounded. Since then, it has become a sight to behold.”

Slowly and steadily, the crowds started to disperse while a few remained there to have a stroll. Karan and Shekhar waited for the area to get clear and after a few minutes, got down from the tree house.

“Let us go for a walk too… and then, we will have some coffee.” Said Karan.

“Agreed.” Shekhar replied.

As they walked, Poorna spotted them and tugged at Jenny.

“What do you say, Jenny? Want to strike a conversation with them?” asked Poorna.

“Are you crazy? No way. You go if you are so interested… you know, for a heart break.” Jenny retorted.

“Don’t be so negative, Jenny. It is not like I am asking you to marry one of them. Of course, if there is something called luck… I might want to try it out with that tall guy in white t-shirt and maybe, get you hooked to the one in semi-formals.” Said Poorna.

“You are too much, Poorna! Seriously!! What the hell is wrong with you?” Jenny asked feeling uncomfortable now.

As Shekhar and Karan continued walking, the former looked at the girls and then at Karan. He smiled mischievously and without telling Karan, turned right and started to walk towards the girls. Poorna’s heart skipped a beat and she stared at Shekhar as the latter continued to walk towards them.

“Jenny… I don’t believe it. This is actually happening. The target is coming straight at me… and I have no idea whether to fire or… surrender.” Poorna reacted.

Jenny looked at Poorna, with a smirk, she replied, “There is a 3rd option… DIE!!!”

Shekhar came close, looking at Jenny, he started, “We both were the winners today yet, I did not get the chance to congratulate you. I am Shekhar.”

Jenny hesitantly shook hands with him and replied, “Thank You and same to you, Shekhar. I am Jennifer.”

Poorna continued to stare at Shekhar, her mouth was wide open as she looked at Shekhar from top to bottom. Karan joined in and noticed Poorna ogling Shekhar.

“I am not surprised. He does have a charm and Poorna seems to be the right girl for him.” Thought Karan.

Jenny also noticed the same, smiling, she introduced her to Shekhar, “This is my friend, Poorna.”

Shekhar tried to shake hands with her but Poorna was not in her senses. Jenny tugged at Poorna, the latter came back to her senses but instead of shaking hands, she greeted by folding her hands. Shekhar, confused, followed the same, and then looking at Karan, introduced him, “Oh, by the way… this is my friend, Karan… and Karan, this is Jennifer and this is Poorna.”

Karan shook hands with Poorna comfortably, however, while greeting Jenny, he couldn’t look into her eyes. He blushed and said hello, it was the same for Jenny… she couldn’t understand her feelings; however, she shook hands, blushing.

The group continued on their walk. Shekhar and Poorna were growing close in just few minutes into their meeting and their conversations were getting animated minute by minute. It was not the same between Karan and Jenny; they struggled to say a few words and could only just laugh along listening to Shekhar and Poorna’s senseless conversation.

After dinner at night, while all the others were asleep, Karan kept thinking about Jenny.

“She is so beautiful yet, I couldn’t speak with her. I have talked with girls before, yet why is it so different with her? Shekhar calls me a playboy… which I am not, of course. I never had any wrong intentions with any of them, and I do have a lot of female friends. I guess… I guess… she is different, someone totally different from the others, a different league all together. Maybe, someday… someday, we will become friends… just friends, I guess!!” Karan thought.

It was the same with Jenny.

“He was not looking at me while shaking hands. He was blushing… I am not sure whether he was acting or… he really couldn’t see eye to eye with me. He seems to be nice and modest man, but first meetings don’t reveal everything. However, I don’t know why I feel like wanting to meet him again.

I have come with a commitment to serve the nation, distance myself from this feeling… but what if… what if, I get carried away with this feeling… what if, I succumb to my emotions.”

Jenny got up from her bed and looked out of the window; the sky was clear with the 2 moons shining brightly and in the horizon, a giant ringed planet that had turned from green to violet. She looked at the moons, closed her eyes and prayed, “I am not sure what lies ahead of me. I am not sure what you have planned for me. If it is for my own good, then I will gladly accept whatever is in my fate.”

She opened her eyes and was about to go in when she noticed a room with lights on. She glanced at the room and could see Karan looking at his mobile.

“He is awake… why he is awake at this time?” Jenny asked herself.

She continued watching as Karan kept his mobile aside, prayed and then switching off the lights, went to sleep. Jenny went in, with a smile, she got up on her bed and went to sleep. However, Karan and Jenny were not the only ones awake at that time.

“Hmmm… you were awake, I see. Thinking about me? Well, one day you will… and I can’t wait for that day. For now, you are in my dreams… and talking about making my dreams a reality; I am going to have some fun with you in my dreams.” It was Avesh, a sly smile lingered on his lips as he went back in and switched off the lights of his room.

The next day, the batch was undergoing combat training.

“Good Morning, people… I am Major Ratan, and I am your combat trainer. Now, there are some of you who might be wondering why combat training before wielding a weapon. The answer is simple… as a security elite, it is obvious that you will encounter enemies in every turn, in every nook and cranny… anytime, and any part of the day and night.

Imagine, you are going for shopping or you are on a date, and you suddenly find yourself in the midst of a hostage crisis and unfortunately, you do not have access to a weapon… even a sidearm, what will you people do?”

The people looked at each other and they did not have an answer to it… except Shekhar and Jenny who raised their hands.

“Mr. Shekhar Ranavat, go on.” Said Major Ratan.

“Sir, the first thing I would do… if I get the opportunity… is to save as many citizens as possible and try to get them out of the place. The security of the citizens is our first priority. I cannot save all of them but at least save some of them.

Secondly, and this might sound radical for a few people… if I do get the chance, I may want to take on the armed men and try to steal a weapon from them. That way, I will not only get a free weapon but I would be able to divert the attention of the armed men towards me while allowing the other people to escape.” Said Shekhar.

There were some who laughed while there were others who clapped their hands. Shekhar glanced at Poorna, the latter was as usual impressed.

Major Ratan was also impressed and said, “Well, Shekhar… indeed, that was radical… but I admire your bravery. Ms. Anderson, you want to add anything.”

“I do agree with Shekhar… and I don’t think it would be radical. It is all about necessity and yes, grabbing the opportunity. Those are the times when we may be all alone and we have no other choice but to take matters in our own hands, forget about our lives and think about the others. I would have also done the same.” Said Jenny.

Major Ratan nodded his head in agreement and then asked, “Anybody else wants to add something?”

Karan looked at everyone, smirked and then raised his hand.

“Yes, Mr. Bose, go on.” Said Major Ratan.

“Sir, tell me if I am wrong but I am under the impression that we are given an ‘Alarmer’. The alarmer is used to alert the command centre of any crisis that we may face. While we being security elites are given a special permission to use that, civilians are not allowed for misuse of technology. However, public offices, companies, schools, shopping malls, discotheques… the facility is available everywhere and in times of crisis, citizens can use that.

The command centre needs to be notified first of a crisis like this so that back up can be arranged in no time and in turn, we can then think… analyse the situation and choose the best course of action.

The first course of action would be to activate my tracker and then my alarmer before doing something radical.” Said Karan.

The others including Shekhar stared at Karan. Jenny looked at Karan and then looked away, she smiled and then blushed, thinking, “Oh yes, he is right, how stupid of me!”

Soon the others realized that Karan was right and along with Major Ratan clapped their hands, everyone except Avesh who was not impressed. He glanced at Jenny who was smiling at Karan and clapping, and the former went wild with anger and jealousy.

Major Ratan went on to explain the motive behind his question, “There you go people. I do admire the vigour you people have to be a hero, to be remembered for a good deed… you people are already heroes as you train yourself to be the ultimate security elites, however, there will always come a time when you need to use your head in pressure situations. Being a hero will always take a backseat most often… and you will have to use your head to use all possible resources at hand to complete a mission.”

He then asked a question, “Now, how many of you have undergone combat training before joining BASE?”

A lot of cadets raised their hands including Karan, Shekhar and Jenny.

“Alright then, Karan… Jenny… come over here.” Major Ratan ordered.

Both Karan and Jenny were taken aback, yet they heeded considering it was an order. They came to the centre and Major Ratan told them to face each other.

Major Ratan looked at the cadets and said, “You have a male cadet and a female cadet… and in due time, you will understand why I decided on this.” He then turned towards Karan and asked, “Mr. Karan Bose, what combat form have you specialized in?”

“Kung fu… I was also undergoing training in kickboxing for a year, however, I got selected in BASE and so had to leave it.” Karan replied.

“Splendid. Don’t worry, while you will be given combat training lessons… cadets also have the option here to select any form of martial art training as a form of upgrading themselves, so you can complete you training here.” said Major Ratan.

“Thank you, sir. Then I will enlist myself for it after this session.” Karan replied.

Major Ratan then turned to Jenny and asked her specialization to which Jenny replied, “Krav Maga.”

“Interesting… a martial art technique where your body weight becomes your biggest weapon along with basic knowledge of physics, and for a woman, the right technique to adapt going by their physicality. Well, then let us see what happens when 2 different techniques crash against each other.” Said Major Ratan.

Karan and Jenny took their stance and waited for the Major’s signal.

“Fight.” Major Ratan ordered and without any inhibition, Jenny attempted a round horse kick.

Karan was quick to react, however, thanks to his training. He was able to deduce and marvel at how high the kick went… it almost went over his head and grazed his hair. He backtracked and looked at Jenny. The latter knew that Karan didn’t expect that and flashed that sweet smile again.

“You are good, Jenny. Without a doubt…a 100 times better than me. Well then, let us dance sweetie.” Thought Karan, as he smiled back.

He charged ahead, only to face a barrage of strong and well targeted kicks. Karan, at first tried his best to dodge but after a few moments, Jenny showed off how fast she was with her kicks and punches and ultimately, Karan was slammed on his head with a butterfly kick. The former crashed to the ground groaning in pain.

There was thunderous clapping from everyone except Shekhar and Poorna who were amazed. Avesh who was also clapping his hand, smirked looking at the condition Karan was in. Jenny, however, started feeling guilty looking at Karan groaning in pain and trying to get,up, she offered help but Major Ratan stopped her.

“Well then, Karan. Either you underestimated your opponent or you were not prepared. I bet… it is the first one.” Commented Major Ratan.

Karan got up on his feet and then shook his head. He wanted to respond to that comment but decided to keep his mouth shut.

“Alright, let us do it again.” Major Ratan ordered and the duo took their stance again.

Karan replayed Jenny’s moves in his mind trying to look for a weakness, however, the moment Major Ratan said to fight, Jenny charged again with a flurry of kicks and punches. Karan back tracked as far as possible from Jenny to avoid them. When Jenny stopped, Karan stood ground.

“Alright, let me not charge. The only way I can find a weakness in her technique is to wait for her to attack. I believe she doesn’t like to defend herself… she only likes to attack or bring down her enemy as fast as possible. She lacks patience… which is her biggest weakness.” Karan thought.

Karan did not attack as Jenny waited for him to charge. Jenny waited with baited breath; however, Karan still stood his ground as they saw eye to eye.

“What happened? Why isn’t he attacking? Is he scared? I know I hit him hard, but if he has really undergone real training, he must be good at his technique. I cannot accept the fact that he is a coward. I… I… Karan, I don’t think you are what you seem to be. You are better than me. Show me what you have got, Karan… show the world that you are worth more than this.” Thought Jenny as she waited for Karan to charge again.

Poorna couldn’t understand what was going on and therefore, walked towards Shekhar and asked, “What is going in, Shekhar? Is Karan really good at what he is saying?”

Shekhar looked at Poorna , and then back at the fight and replied, “Jenny is good, Poorna. Accept that. However, Karan has an ability that few people have, something that requires guts.”

“And what is that?” Poorna asked, irritated.

“The ability to accept failure, the ability to accept that it is sometimes ok to lose, however, he may lose a 100 times, yet, in those 100 times, he is still learning, watching… observing… and when the time is right, he is the one that delivers the final blow and has the last laugh. Just wait and watch.” Said Shekhar.

Both Karan and Jenny were watching eye to eye and going round and round in the same area. Karan continued with his defensive approach playing on Jenny’s mind, while the latter was now growing impatient.

“Alright, Karan… I thought you were brave, I thought you were not going down without a fight… but I guess I was wrong. I am disappointed with you. I don’t want to have anything with you now. Let this be a real fight.” Saying, Jenny charged ahead and attempted an axe kick but Karan realizing the kind of kick moved aside.

The moment Jenny put her foot down; Karan punched her in her stomach. Jenny winced, after which Karan ducked and kicked her on her legs, and the former slammed to the ground.

Jenny was surprised by that attack and stared at Karan. The cadets were not just clapping but were giggling at Jenny who fell for the trap. Jenny was angered; she quickly got up on her feet and took stance.

“She looks cute when she is angry. Well love, no hard feelings. You are good… it is me who is trying to save his ass.” Karan thought.

Jenny once again began her assault as Karan began dodging and defending. The former was getting quick with her moves, however, Karan was not looking to attack yet and waiting for a loophole. It came soon enough. As Jenny tried to punch him, Karan once again moved to his side, tapped Jenny’s head which distracted her after which Karan quickly moved to her back and kicked her. Jenny fell to the ground on her face.

There was thunderous applause now with even Shekhar and Poorna clapping their hands and cheering. Jenny got up, shook her head and once again stared at Karan. She was angry and irritated.

“Well, well… that is some solid comeback. There is a reason why I wanted a male and female fighter. I don’t know how many of you realized this but Jenny was hell bent on defeating his opponent, however, Karan was being a gentlemen. There was no hard hits or punches from him but just playing around… to defeat his ‘enemy’.

It does not matter who your enemy is… all that matters is how you use your brain, your eyes, your ears, your sense of your surroundings… your abilities… and the fact that you should also learn from your mistakes… is what keeps us alive.

We will have one more round and then break for lunch.”

While Karan smiled at Jenny and took stance, the latter was not impressed. Instead she was burning with anger, she took her stance and waited for the Major’s order. The moment he said ‘fight’, Jenny did a head scissors facebuster on Karan. The latter slammed to the ground hard groaning in pain again, however, that was not enough. Jenny’s anger got the better of her and she started to hold on to her grip as Karan slowly realized that he was being strangulated.

Everyone was clapping at that technique, however, they didn’t realize the situation that Karan was in. The latter tapped her hand to release him but Jenny was still angry at him for mocking her in front of everyone. Soon, it was Shekhar who realized it and he ran from his position towards the combatants; he grabbed hold of Jenny, opened her grip and threw her to the side. Released from the clutches, Karan coughed hard holding his neck while Poorna too joined in and helped the former stand up on his feet.

Jenny’s anger subsided, looking at Karan coughing hard made her realize her mistake and she started to feel guilty. Shekhar was angered and yelled at Jenny, “Are you out of your mind? What is wrong with you? We are not your enemies… this is just a training session.”

Jenny stared at Shekhar, then at Major Ratan, and then looked around. There were murmurs around and Jenny felt embarrassed at her attitude, tears welled up as she covered her face and ran away from there. Major Ratan tried to stop her but Karan intervened.

“Please, sir… let her go. It is ok; it is natural for someone to not accept defeat. We must be proud to have a fighter like her; however, she has much to learn… we all have much to learn.” Said Karan.

Poorna, however, was not happy with what happened and decided to confront Jenny. She stepped out of the training hall towards the BASE Park where she found the latter sitting on a bench with her face covered.

“What happened back there, Jenny? What did you intend doing? You were trying to kill him! You were trying to kill Karan!” Poorna shouted.

Jenny tried to justify her action, “I wasn’t trying to kill him, Poorna. I was trying to teach him a lesson for playing with me and making a mockery of me in front of everyone. It was not intentional…”

“You were strangling him. I saw the rage in your eyes. Is that how you react if you are defeated or someone gets the better of you? We are not your enemies… we are colleagues here. We are trying to learn the rules of survival over here and here you are trying to prove your mettle by hurting your own people.” Poorna reacted.

Jenny looked at Poorna, she was still in tears, and she wanted to say something but realized that after what she had done, there was nothing left to say. She hung her head in shame and started to cry profusely now.

Poorna shook her head in disgust; she started to walk away but stopped, turned around and spoke to Jenny, “I am really not sure what you were trying to do back there. All I can assume is that you are suffering from a complex… you feel you are no good, you feel you are a loser, you feel that no one will look up to you… yet, when you showed of your moves, Shekhar wasn’t feeling bad about his best friend getting hit, he was more impressed seeing your skills.

It is the same with Karan too… when you walked out; Karan also called you an amazing fighter, someone we should be proud of having in BASE. He has massive respect for you and this is how you repay him. You should be ashamed of yourself.”

Jenny stared at Poorna, the latter walked away while the former could just sit and cry over her mistake.

During dinner, while Jenny was walking towards the cafeteria, she spotted Karan and Shekhar going ahead of her. She had a growing urge of walking up to them and apologizing for her mistake. She tried to catch up and call out to Karan, however, Avesh blocked her path.

“Jenny!! You were amazing back there. What a fight you put up with that stupid Karan.” Avesh started while Jenny continued to look at Karan who was now chatting with a few men of her batch.

“Serves him right, the way he was playing around with you like a fool… what kind of fighter does that.” Said Avesh.

Jenny was growing impatient and irritated now, she glared at Avesh and the latter was surprised by it. He stepped back; he wanted to say something but decided to keep his mouth shut. That very moment, Karan came towards Jenny and it was her time to get surprised.

“I am sorry if I have hurt you in anyways, Jenny. You are a brilliant fighter; I was not able to match up to your fast punches and kicks, so I had to improvise a few skills of mine to negate that speed. Believe me, I wasn’t trying to mock you or play around with you… I was only trying to save myself.” Said Karan.

Jenny was filled with remorse now, she had done a mistake and this was the time to sort out  everything.

“Please Karan, you don’t have to apologize. I am the one guilty here. I shouldn’t have allowed my rage to get the better of me. You were doing the right thing; however, I didn’t realize that. I was so hell bent on trying to prove myself that all lines between friends and enemies became blurred. I am sorry for what I have done.” Said Jenny.

Karan couldn’t help looking at Jenny’s eyes, they were beautiful and he could only stare at it. Hearing Jenny’s words, he nodded his head in disagreement, looked into her eyes and said, “Never underestimate yourself, Jenny. You know you are good, everyone of us over here are unique in our own ways… so stop trying to prove yourself and instead try to better yourself. You better yourself… the world will automatically look up to you.”

Jenny listened to those words as though they were a kind of mantra, she felt motivated and slowly, a smile sprouted. She was guilty no more and heaved a sigh of relief that everything was sorted out.

“Come now, Jenny. Join us for dinner.” Said Karan.

Jenny was about to agree but then remembered that Poorna was angry with her. She would be joining them but would not want to sit with her.

“I have no issues, Karan but you see… Poorna is angry with me after what I did. She didn’t speak to me after the training. I am not sure she would like to sit with me.” Said Jenny.

“Oh yes, I know but don’t you worry. The moment she will see us entering the cafeteria as a ‘couple’, I bet all her anger would vanish in an instant. You can take that in writing if you want to.” Said Karan with a smug look.

Jenny stared at Karan, she giggled and then blushed at that comment. Avesh, who was listening to the conversation, was once again burning with anger and jealousy. As the duo walked towards the cafeteria, some of their batch mates who were also listening to their conversation started to clap their hands realizing that everything was sorted out and they were friends now. Major Ratan was standing in the corner and he, too, started to clap.

While Shekhar and Poorna had brought their food tray to their table, the latter glanced at Karan and Jenny coming together and indeed, she was surprised. Jenny walked towards her and was about to apologize but Poorna stopped her, and then hugged her. Jenny, feeling relieved again, looked at Karan and thought, “We are still strangers but I do have the strong urge to know more about you.  I am not sure whether we will be together like this but I pray to God that if we are supposed to be together, let it be the most beautiful and memorable part of our life. Thank you for coming into my life, Karan.”

Karan was also looking at Jenny too and thought, “I am not sure if I have a future with you, however, I am happy that you are my friend. You will always be my best friend and whenever you need me, I will always be there to support you and motivate you. You are a strong woman; you may not need anyone in your life yet, if you need someone, know this… that I will always be there for you… in every step of your life…. take it in writing.”

Back to main

Resilience Episode 2

Arrival

The carriers landed at the BASE grounds, as the candidates came out, they watched in wonder at the organization. They were mesmerized by the sheer size of it.

BASE was a collection of 8 towers. The towers were all connected by bridges and on the very top of the towers was the BASE command centre. Close to a million security elites served here, the elites were not just from this city… there were many who came from other towns, cities…  and even from the colonial planets to build their career over here.

“Look at the size of it. Have you ever seen anything like it? First timers would definitely get lost in any one of those towers.” Karan commented.

“I am already feeling lost. I have only seen photos, but to see it up close… I am feeling faint now.” Said Shekhar.

There was an announcement that very moment, “All the candidates are requested to move to the induction hall immediately. Codename Krishna will address the gathering.”

There were loud cheers among the candidates when they heard the name. Many of the security elites in BASE were like heroes or celebrities to both the young and old of the country. They were treated the same way film personalities, sport stars or other VIPs were treated… sometimes, even more considering the security elites were the reason every one, be it VIP or a common citizen felt protected.

“Lieutenant Colonel (Lt. Col.) Raman Singh aka Codename Krishna… he is going to address us. Unbelievable.” Shekhar exclaimed.

“Dream come true, buddy. Let us not waste time.” Said Karan.

Shekhar agreed and along with Karan rushed towards the hall. As they moved inside the hall, they saw 3 giant statues and a lot of people were touching the feet of the statues before walking ahead and grabbing their seats.

“Will you look at that! My kind of demi-gods – Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru. Just look at them.” Shekhar commented.

Karan could only admire the statues, he walked towards them and touched their feet.

“By the way, Karan… your hero is also over here.” Said Shekhar.

“I know, and I will get to meet him soon.” Karan responded with a smile.

The duo continued on and somehow grabbed seats for themselves. The candidates waited with baited breath for their hero to address them any moment.

“We may want to close our ears… this whole place is going to explode any moment once he arrives.” Shekhar commented.

“Tell you what, Shekhar… I am waiting for that moment.” Said Karan.

That very moment, Codename Krishna entered the hall along with his deputy, Major Shilpa. As they ascended the stairs, the hall erupted in loud cheers, whistles and howling. Codename Krishna was overwhelmed by the way he was welcomed, he raised his hands indicating the candidates to remain silent and the latter heeded.

“Welcome… Welcome to BASE, the organization that was created about 50 years ago to take care of the law and order of this nation. Your training and development program would begin from tomorrow and it will run for 1.5 years, after which you all will be fully equipped to become the ultimate security elites. BASE has proved time and again with its training programme mixed with state of the art facilities in creating soldiers that have done phenomenal work and rose among ranks.

I expect you all to take your training seriously. You will  get the opportunity to take up other relevant activities or training during this time… and believe me; your education will not stop there. Even after graduating as a security elite, you will always find opportunities to hone your skills in warfare and knowledge.

That being said, I will now start by explaining to you the basic and daily activities of an elite in BASE. Before that, if you have any questions… you may raise your hands.”

The moment Codename Krishna ended his preliminary speech, all the candidates in the hall raised their hands. Codename Krishna looked at his deputy and winked at her.

After the induction was completed, the candidates were then asked to walk towards the main building where they would be assigned their rooms for stay. As they proceeded towards the building, they saw the statue of another legend.

“BASE – Bose Association of Security Elites… it is obvious the hero had to be in the main premise.” Shekhar commented.

The statue of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose stood at the centre of the towers, standing at a height of 50 feet, Karan marvelled at it. He walked forward and along with many others, touched the feet of the statue.

The rooms the candidates were allotted were no less than a five star hotel suite with all the facilities given. 4 people were allowed in a room with each having their separate sub-rooms for privacy. The sub-rooms had separate beds, washrooms, study table and other facilities like air-conditioners and heaters depending on the requirement.

“They have literally created a housing complex over here. We are like paying guests… though we are going to live here for free.” Said Karan.

“Don’t get too cocky now, buddy. The reason they have and are giving so much comfort is… because the training and development routine for a security elite is very hard over here and that is why BASE thinks that the candidates should be made comfortable enough to endure the pain.” Explained Shekhar.

Karan stared at the latter and then again at the room, and said, “Now you are scaring me. So all that glitters is not gold then, I guess.”

“We will achieve gold status once we graduate. For now, better to collect the bits and pieces and endure the toughest moment of our life.” Said Shekhar, as he walked towards a sub-room.

Resilience Episode 1

Connect with me on Facebook

Back to main

Resilience Episode 1

The Light is Green

It was a busy day at the BASE airfield as a lot of young men and women were queuing up to get in. Over a 100 security elites at the entrance were checking the passes of the candidates. The year was 2172 and BASE had announced a recruitment drive for a new batch of security elites to be inducted.

2 young men got out of a taxi. After paying the fare, they looked at the entrance and then stared at the queue.

“There must be a thousand people over here. It is going to be a busy day.” Shekhar commented.

“Thousands, eh! I say a million. Think again, a job as coveted as a security elite in BASE… people are ready to die for it, and we have come to live that life.” Said Karan.

“You said it! It is going to be quite an achievement to be selected among these ‘millions’. Let us get to work then.” Said Shekhar.

Karan nodded his head in agreement; they stood in queue and after a long wait of over an hour, they reached one of the inquiring security elites and displayed their entry passes. The security elite checked them and allowed them in.

The people could hear a constant buzzing and boom sound and were confused at the source of it. When Karan and Shekhar entered through the gate, they realized what it was – Giant Super Carriers – passenger cum warships; they stood at a height of about 300 feet and had the capacity to seat about 10000 soldiers.

“So it is true then!” Shekhar exclaimed.

“What is true?” Karan asked, he was still staring at the ships, awestruck.
“BASE’s tradition… transporting the newcomers to the BASE camp in giant carriers. BASE was created 50 years ago, however, this tradition began on the 2nd year of its existence.” Said Shekhar.

“I see. Well, we should be happy to be a part of this tradition… and lucky too.” Karan commented.

He then saw a shop where some people were having snacks.

“Having their fill before they could board the ships, eh! Wait here, Shekhar, let me get something for both of us.” Saying, Karan walked towards the shop and asked for chocolate bars. He paid for it and then ran back to Shekhar.

“We will have it on board. Put those in your bag. Let us rush now. They are going to screen us to check if we are worth being soldiers.” Said Shekhar.
“Months of preparation for this stuff, buddy. There is no way they are going to shatter our dreams and make us go home.” Said Karan.

There were 100 counters where the candidates were being screen tested. Every individual’s height, weight, health and medical background were being checked. What’s more, the system through which the nation was running had the records of every individual present there and the BASE officials had complete authorization to look into the background of the candidate. The screen test was a tough affair though, even the slightest black mark on an individual’s personal record meant the person did not qualify and had to go back disappointed. The person could apply again provided he or she was still under 28 years of age.

Shekhar went into a counter while Karan went into another, both of them qualified on the first go. As Karan came out of the counter, he heard a voice so sweet that he had to turn back.

“Your name, miss?” Asked the counter official.

“Jennifer Anderson.”

Karan couldn’t take his eyes of her; he stood over there and continued to listen to the conversation.

“Jennifer Anderson… aka Jenny… that is sweet, I think I will call you that.” Said the official.

Jenny blushed, and Karan could feel his heart melting. Shekhar was seeing this and tapped Karan’s shoulder from behind. The latter was jolted by it and he turned around.

“You want to be dead before being inducted; you can continue staring at her otherwise you better get on that ship before you put us both in trouble.” Said Shekhar.

Karan scowled at Shekhar, the latter was not affected by it as he walked away towards the nearest super carrier and had his bag checked. Karan nodded his head in disagreement and walked towards the same ship. As the official was checking his bag, Karan was still looking back at Jenny.

“These chocolate bars… are they yours?” the official who was checking his bag asked.

Karan was startled again and stared at the official, he answered, “Yes, some snacks before we reach BASE”
“Sorry but no bars allowed. You are entering an area where your health takes centre stage. You will end up having stuffs that you have never dreamt of having, so no unhealthy stuffs inside BASE premises.” Saying, the official threw the bars in to the dustbin.

The others, including Shekhar, heard the conversation and couldn’t help but burst out laughing. Karan felt really embarrassed, however, it was not until he saw Jenny again. The latter was not laughing, but smiling in disbelief at Karan’s antics. Karan now covered his face in shame; he took the bag and walked inside the ship followed by Shekhar who was panting heavily because of laughing so much.
“Seriously, Shekhar! You are laughing at me, yet you were more eager to have a chocolate bar.” Exclaimed Karan.

Shekhar took a deep breath and said, “I accept, Karan. I accept but I couldn’t help looking at the situation that official left you in. It is as though… for a moment, the entire spotlight was on you and the sirens in this airfield would have started buzzing because someone was bringing chocolate bars inside a super carrier.”

“Oh yes! Like I committed a crime or something, I have never been embarrassed like this in my life.” Karan commented.

They searched for empty seats and once they found it, they made themselves comfortable. Once the ship was filled to the last seat, the doors were closed and the pilots started the engines. One of the pilots announced the same and advised everyone to fasten their seatbelts, the candidates did the same and after 3 minutes, the ship took off from the airfield.

“This is it, brother. Our journey starts from here; our dreams are on the verge of being fulfilled. I am still worried about one thing.” Said Shekhar.

“Worried about what?” Karan asked confused.

Shekhar started to explain, “We are going to live a soldier’s life. The eyes and ears of every enemy would be upon us. We are targets now. Millions are spent in making us the ultimate security elites, yet, just one bullet is enough to take away a soul.

What is more, I have studied about the way of living of BASE soldiers. Once the candidates complete their graduation in BASE, they are assigned to different squads. We are sitting together on this ship, however, once we graduate, we might be in different squads. We may never get to meet each other all the time and then, you might go on a mission… and the last thing I know, I may get the news that… you will never return….”

“Whoa! Whoa! Brother, stop it… what the hell are you rambling about? I am still alive. Nothing is going to happen to us.” Karan realizing where Shekhar was going with this stopped him.

Shekhar stared at Karan, for a moment, the former was not in his senses. He shook his head, had some water and then looked away from Karan. The duo did not realize that Jenny was sitting behind them and listening to every word of theirs. Shekhar’s words hit her like a bullet and she clutched her heart.

“I never realized this, I had prepared for this all my life and now, I realize that Shekhar is right. Anything can happen, who knows, I may get shot before I go on my first mission.
Lord, I pray to you, protect me as long as fate keeps me alive and when you think I am ready to meet you… make my death honourable.” Jenny thought to herself.

Resilience Episode 2

Book available for purchase on Bookscamel

Connect with me on Facebook

 

Back to main

Surviving Writer’s Block

Being born in a Bengali family, among people who read, write and breathe literature, it was and is obvious that writing was a passion that I had developed during my teens. However, I remember an old friend of my late grandfather telling me 15 years ago that I would have to take a job to pursue this dream for writing can never be a career option, not in today’s times.

While pursuing my graduation in B.Com, my final year to be precise, I decided to try my luck at writing a novel –  a story so epic that it would either be loved by all or I would get to sit and ‘watch the world burn’. I remember those nights while I was studying and then taking my time out crafting a story inspired from Hollywood action entertainers or upcoming video games. I started writing in 2006; however, it was during my struggling days. My father passed away, my mother was in no mood to go back to Oman and so, left her teaching job and came back to India, which means I had to take up a job. I was pursuing a course in animation, however, I had to give it up and take up a job as a BPO employee.

By 2009, my story ‘SANDHYA’ was ready and now, I had to get it published and that is where the real journey began. Little did I realize that this would not only change me and my perspective about the publishing world but also, slowly lead to a period of low self-esteem and writer’s block. SANDHYA was released in 2010 by Raider Publishing (never heard of it, I guess, well check Google and you will know why it had started to look like I made a deal with the devil when the contract came in my email.)

The book was released worldwide, however, it sold only about 50 – 60 copies. I was not in that position to even think or analyze why the book failed. I felt so depressed and helpless, I had so many ideas in my mind but I lost confidence in them. Every time I wrote something, it did not look or sound ‘EPIC’. The last thing, I knew, writing just disappeared from my life and I decided to carry on with my job. I had to shift to Delhi to help my mother in a new business that she was trying to start, however, it did not give the desired result that we wanted, and so we both had to take up a job again.

It was during this period that I started to rethink about the failure of the book. I went into a self-realization mode where every mistake of mine came out. The title of the book was not ‘internationally’ catchy enough to lure the public, the book was riddled with spelling mistakes that the publisher never looked into and the story, amateur in every sense, however, still epic, was inconsistent in a lot of areas.

My mother was not happy with me for burying my dreams, and it was quite natural. I had to start again but with what, I needed inspiration, I needed ideas… I needed something EPIC to happen in my life to CTRL C + CTRL V on my laptop. I had the fuel and wood for my work, and now, I needed the fire.

I was promoted as a Quality Analyst in 2015 and found myself being a part of a team of mad and insane people lead by an even more insane leader. Just the kind of environment I needed, mad about our work, crazy when discussing something serious or something downright nonsense… I was loving it. (for once, I felt that it is not so bad not to be careful about what you wish for, and yes, I am a fan of ‘THE SECRET’ written by Rhonda Byrne).

My everyday work which made me analyze and audit errors was becoming a way of life even in my writing and editing skills, and along with the everyday chat and banter between my lead and my colleagues lead to the creation of a giant tinderbox and all I needed was to light the match… no question asked I lighted it. My keys on my laptop were beaten and broken yet I did not stop as my novel took shape chapter after chapter. Come 2017 and my novel was complete.

There are writers out there who have faced or are still facing the issue of writer’s block, a situation where a person loses confidence on his work or is mentally and literarily exhausted, however, we can all come out of it if we accept and embrace the world not by the way it is, but by the way we want to look at it. Keep your eyes open to everything and listen more to the sounds of the world, which is how ideas, inspiration, and motivation come out.

‘RESILIENCE’… that is the word I heard from my leader, that is what defines us, and is the name of my new book. I cannot comment on whether the book is doing well or not and to be honest, as a passionate writer, I don’t think I need to be concerned. What we need to be concerned is to not leave your passion behind. Your passion is your first love, and if you are loyal to it, no power in this universe can bring you down. This is for all those who have not left their passion, be it writers, artists, dancers etc. I pray for happiness and prosperity to all.

Spundan Dasgupta, Quality Analyst, and Writer.

Back to main