Saturday, 17 January 2015

The Most Delicious Cassava - The Other Side of Story of Operations

The other story of a war or an operation is seldom told. It is the valour, bravery or the cowardice that is expected from a story of a battle. But the soldiers being a human there is a human touch involved in the operations, more so our soldiers are more compassionate by being Buddhist there would be innumerable stories to be shared is asked, besides the normal expected stories of bravery and valour, sometimes blown out of proportion. The show of compassion, the show of human touch to comrades and avoidance of collateral damages sacrificing own safety are seldom heard.

I have one such story which is other than the thing related to the normal military operation.

The platoon under me were dug up under the foliage completely camouflaged and waited in ambush for more than a week, getting out of the position only to answer the call of nature, rest of the mundane things are done at the same place. Surviving without hot food led to dreaming of eating in the short catnap that we took turn wise, choking with the saliva that is produced in real with the imaginary food. Too shy to narrate the dreams that time but choking-coughs could be heard.

When the relaxation or stand down was announced upon successful operation by our attack force, we went to the nearby house in search of a hot meal in the house nearby.

There were old couple and three children in the house with one young lady, who later we learned, was a divorcee. There was nothing in the kitchen. The thought of having a hot food was shattered.  By seeing their condition the urge to eat hot meal diminished.

I calculated mentally the rations that we saved and it comes to about (31x10=310/30=10months) 10 months ration for one person. I told the man to come to our camp with a horse to collect some ration when the things cool down a bit. As I was talking with the family the young lady knew from the look on our face, with dry lips and sunken eyes that we were hungry.

There was a big bowl full of ‘shing joktang’ cassava/tapioca boiled and ready to eat with ‘aezay’ chili pickle. I have never tasted better cassava than that in my entire life. The ingenuity and the resourcefulness of the young lady made her look more beautiful beyond her exterior looks – which was not bad for a village lass.

After having our fill and taking some for the other half who were manning the site. We thanked the family profusely; the urge to pay back (with the ration) became even stronger and told them to come to our base camp to collect right after our withdrawal.

One day at the base camp, I was contacted through set that there is a family wising to meet me. It was the family who fed us with a delicious cassava. The assorted dry ration of two horses’ load that they brought along and whatever they could carry was given, as generously consented by all my platoon members.

The look of happiness on their face brought tears into my eyes but that was the little we could do. For how long, the meager amount of rations will pull the whole family through, is not known. But then they have a delicious cassava and a very resourceful young lady. The burden that she may have to bear on her fragile shoulder, to look after the welfare of two aging parents and two growing siblings is more than any military operations. Our sufferings would be nothing comparing to her.

There are ample people like her if we look around and care………