Wednesday, 24 September 2014

The Cross Country Race to Remember

I have always been a potential medalist but never won a medal in cross country race even once. I used to come in first or second enclosure every time. Enclosure is a grouping made for the ease of granting points to the squadron, after first person crosses the finish line 2 minutes after that is a first enclosure and from 2.01 to 4 minutes is the second enclosure, 4.01 to 6 is the third enclosure and so on till the last enclosure.

It was in my final term that I have practiced well and I was in my peak performance form. The route was about 14 Km. There were about 1 thousand participants for the run who were participating voluntarily – voluntarily as in military is – ‘ I want 3 volunteers you, you and you.’

To save the crowd first 300 meters or so needs to be sprinted and I did just that. I was in the leading group and there were not many runners in the apex of the human column. The run starts from a glider dome area; it is a huge ground nearly three football ground in length and breadth where cadets have their first flying experience. On the cross country race day the ground is used as a starting and finish point.
glider dome - start and finish point
After the end of the ground it bottle necks into a road known as periphery road. And further it bottle necks into a path leading to polo field and in the nameless jungles finally coming out on the road again and to the finish point. There are no shortcuts en route.
on the road
After completing almost 5 Km beyond the polo field I saw a guy in front of me fall, I jumped over him and in the process I landed on a small pebble and I felt a sharp sting on the sole of my foot. I hoped that the pain will go away and kept running. Instead of it going away, the pain was becoming more painful but I tried to forget about it and kept running. My pace was becoming slower and slower because I can see many runners overtaking me. The pain was so intense that I sometimes broke into walk. I completed the race in 5th enclosure. There were 4 more enclosures after that. I felt very bad but I did put in my best despite all the pain.
on the path in the jungles
I removed my shoes and limped towards the ambulance area. I was not allowed to get in the ambulance because there were so many others who were in worse conditions, some fainted, some vomiting, and many others lying motionless. They were taken first. I got chance only in the last trip to go to hospital.
over the mounds
In the hospital all the beds were full and the patients were kept lying on the make shift ward on the concrete floor of an emptied hall. I sat there on the chair and waited for some hospital staff to ask me what happened. In the meantime the patients lying on the floor were given injections by a nurse. Another busy looking brother gave them injection. I was taken to the X ray room and took the X ray and I came back to the same chair waiting for the result and some rest days authenticated and signed by the doctor.

As I was waiting, the doctor came and asked the brother accompanying him whether they were given injection. He said ‘No’. For which he was scolded and told him to give them injection. I wanted to intervene and tell them that they were given injections but I restrained because who listens to the cadets and besides I thought that they must be talking about different injections. I was imagining such things must be happening in times of war in the trauma centers.

My x ray which is still wet was shown to the doctor. I saw that they were talking about me but did not hear what they were talking.

The deputy commandant came for the visit and asked the doctor how many serious cases. The doctor replied there was only one serious case and pointing towards me he indicated that I was the one with serious case with fracture on the fifth metatarsal bone.

Those that were lying on the floor were slowly getting up some were vomiting maybe because of the overdose of the injections but I did not hear of any of them being dead later in the ward as I was taken directly in the ward and admitted there after casting my leg with Plaster of Paris (PoP).
Passing out Parade (POP)
Resting for 30 days in the ward was better than winning any medal. The pain of broken bone was excruciating but it is nothing compared to the pains caused by the daily routines. Because of which I was saved doing my own Passing out parade (PoP). PoP saved PoP. But I did attend the academy ball ( it is a different story all together will write about it too) the pain remained for couple of months more but it was bearable.