Thursday, 13 August 2015

Climbing Karpa Twice



The sun slowly rises from the horizon, about ten minutes after switching off the muffled torch. Even then the sleep does not go away from the eyes and makes us feel drowsier because of the fact that we have been walking the whole night for a point to point march, through the valleys, over the hills, across the agricultural fields to complete the march. There are couple of points left to be covered, that is known by the map reader and we follow him like a flock of sheep. Next point – Karpa - Move, move.  

Karpa is a highest feature in the locality of our training area. It is dreaded by the dwellers of the plains looking at its height but not us, the mountain people, who have seen and traversed higher mountain than that.

As much as we were tired we were hungry. We were wet with sweat from inside and with morning dews and moisture from outside. The only thing that kept us going was for the love for the squadron and to uphold the ego of being a senior termer; the constant encouragement from the course mates and the unforgettable bullshit in pure military language, when the encouragements failed, fueled the tired limbs to take extra steps towards the peak.

The blisters on the foot, dungaree bites, back pack straps bites and perched lips thirsting for water are conveniently ignored to finish the route march. My friend Rabut and I were carrying extra rifles, he was carrying two and I was carrying four rifles when the day broke and was about to reach the summit of Karpa. Another strong man – Bikash was at the rear with LMG encouraging and fueling the tired limbs to move on.

After reaching the top we tried to suppress the strong desire to sit and fall in to give the report and get the paper signed proving that we have been to that point.

“Which Squadron?” asked the officer manning the point.

“Oscar sir!” We cried in unison with apparent pride of conquering the highest peak.

“Bloody good. You are the first squadron to report here.” We were joyous and for a while all the pains that was the in every fiber of the muscle a moment ago, the thirst, hunger and the desire to rest, vanished. Just as he was about to sign on the paper he looked towards us in visible disapproval.

“You bloody jokers of the Oscar Sqn, where is the f#$king sign, for the point, prior to reporting here?”  The momentary joy of reporting first at Karpa top vanished and the thought of going down and climbing again made us go weak at the already weak knees.

The map reader was lashed with the verbal abuse and it remained at the verbal level only as he did not try to justify. The mistake was bound to happen even if the map reader were any one of us, due to lack of sleep and fatigue. And all of us have to pay for the mistake by doing the arduous climb, again. The next point announced by the map reader was verified, thereafter , by all.

The thought of making the exhausting trip again made me faint imaging the route and how hard it was, but before I swooned one of my friend with a better imagination collapsed flat on the ground. When he was brought back to consciousness by the rifle butts, kicks and slaps I gave up the idea of swooning.

To conserve the energy we had the longest slide downhill on our ground sheets. The bumpy ride and occasional blow on our posterior by the unsuspecting stones was ignored to give rest to the tired legs for another accend, shortly.