Monday, 16 May 2016

The Firing Range and Memories..

“Fire!” The pandemonium of opening the fire from fully loaded AK rifle, by scores of men was deafening. There was smoke and dust everywhere and the raw smell of burning gunpowder and the oil that had been used to keep the barrel of the rifle away from the rust. The fresh memory of the action flooded my mind as I watched the firing practice of the men undergoing firing test.

The men will stop firing when the rounds in the magazine is finished. They would raise their hand to signal the same and wait for other members of the detail to finish the firing. Stopping fire is as simple as that. They would clear the rifle on the order of the commander and make the rifle safe. They will go and check the target and repair it for the next detail.

But on that day it was not that simple. It was very difficult to give the command to stop firing. The human voice is just too weak to overpower the roars created by so many weapons firing together. We some how managed to stop firing. The destruction done on the target needs to be ascertained and perhaps reported.

As I took position to fire, I fell towards one side as if being pushed by someone. I thought is it may be because of the shaky flat stone that lay below my knees. I straightened myself back again and joined the firing. After what I assumed like ages passed, in the midst of smoke and dust, I shouted at the top of my voice to cease the firing. The men near me stopped and the orders went out like a waves formed when you drop a stone in the still water, so unlike military. The men at the outskirts were the last to stop firing. There were no return fire coming from the other side. With such heavy volume of fire even the sandbags and the wooden structures gave way as if being bitten by thousands of rats.

When I got up from the kneeling position, one of the men remarked that there was blood oozing from the back side. I felt the part and it was wet. I knew that I got shot. I felt the front part and there was no blood there. This gave me a hope and feelings that it must not have been a direct shot. And I did not fear that I was going to die as there was no images of my whole life displaying in front of my eyes.

I looked back and behind the bushes there was a man still holding the weapon collapsed on the ground. “Bloody bugger must be the one who gave me that wound”, thought I. In counter insurgency scenario the enemy can come from any directions.

The bullet was removed in the hospital. It was shattered by my hip bones, perhaps due to the “tshenthup” that I was wearing, that only we buddhist can understand. I was shown the fragments of leads in the x ray. The doctor told me that it would do more damage to take them out than to leave them there as they would come out by themselves.

I recovered well; except for the scar nothing had happened to me. One day as I was sitting on the chair I felt a sharp tickle, as I scratched the area, there was a hard dust like substance, upon proper scrutiny it was found to be a lead piece. Yes, the doctor was right. My body is slowly pushing away the foreign materials out.

The sound of the firing brings back the vivid memory, and in the west it may be called PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). A mild PTSD that could be dealt with easily.

(With due permission and adapted from a story told to me by a senior officer, who got wounded during the operations)