Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Rendezvous With My Chief.

It had been quite some time, 'quite some time' – stretching to a decade or more, that I saw my general. Who will not know and hear about your own chief? I constantly learn about his whereabouts and hear stories about his visits. Unlike the chief of other countries, he is the chief of destiny – 'Lungten gi makpen'.

On 20th Jan, 2017, I got an information that he was visiting our area, a day or two prior to the visit of the Supreme commander. In whatever infrastructure that was available, arrangements were made for his comfortable stay. By virtue of not being a dedicated visit, he expected not much of a grand arrangements. He came via the Indian highway. A broad highway connects Nganglam which takes just an hour from the last Indian town.

At the reception area, the cars stopped. The general stepped out dressed immaculately in camouflage and standing tall and erect exemplifying the military bearing despite his age and service. The place of reception was about a few kilometres away from the ambush site where he nearly lost his life.

The incident happened about two decades ago. On that fateful day, the generals vehicle was ambushed by the unknown militants, who were not Bhutanese. The shots were aimed to kill the general but as the luck would have it, he was not sitting at the place where he was supposed to sit in the car; he was driving. The major sitting on the general's place was shot dead on the spot. The rest of the co-travellers and general himself were injured by the stray bullets. Now a days, however, the exact spot of the ambush site was left much below the present day alignment of the road. The road being wider and smoother, it would be difficult to take a pot shot on a moving vehicle. Besides, the intensity and frequency of the vehicle movement had increased unlike the past during which, the vehicles as few, and as infrequent, moved at snail's pace, avoiding the boulders and trees and bushes on a safari kind of road.

I shook hands with the general, my eyes breaming with appreciation for the way he carried himself. I accompanied him in his car thereafter to brief him about the places and the activities happening around. It was evident about the mental torment and the post incident trauma that he must have gone through for so many years, when he asked about the Ambush site. He seemed surprised and extremely glad that the geography and the lay of the ground itself had changed after that incident.

It takes a strong mental power and enormous endurance to become generals. As elucidated by a story that I heard in bit and pieces, which I would try to agglutinate to make a full story: The appendicitis is a very painful disease – that we all would agree having suffered oneself or seeing others suffer. If anyone can endure the pain till it burst, it had to be someone super human. That super human happened to be our chief.

He was accompanying or rather commanded to be accompany the supreme commander to visit Some countries abroad. Even before the start of the journey there was a nagging pain in the abdominal region. He ignored it thinking that it must be some kind of minor abdominal disorder, which comes and goes. I have not heard from the general himself, but by the circumstances, I can make out that the pain might have intensified day after day. With the oppressive pain, he had put up a straight face on all the official functions without giving a slightest hint of troubles that he was undergoing in the abdomen region. He even attended the festivals, or rather, a military march-pass as I have seen in the news report. There too, in the picture, there was no hint of the pain he was undergoing. But then the pain caused by the appendicitis, is not one of those pain which is, off and on, type.

Upon return, when he landed at Paro international airport, that was the time the pain won over him and he had to be directly evacuated to the hospital. The doctors at the hospitals were said to be flabbergasted by the endurance power of the Army chief. The appendix had bursted! And they know that appendix does not burst suddenly. It takes an ample warnings in the form of excruciating and unbearable pains before it bursts.

The general had lived upto the name of the heavy brass he was adorning on his shoulder. Being a dedicated servant to the supreme commander, he did not even think of inconveniencing the entourage by the personal health issues, be it a pain that is equivalent to the labour pains. That is our chief, our own chief of Army.