The Uncommon Men

Arpit Shah was blushing. He was not doing a good job at concealing that smile which he wanted to hide and the anger he wanted to portray. He moved away from the group and sat in an empty seat on the bus, right behind the seats reserved for women. After some whistles and chants of “Aye Haye. Kya sharmaraha hai dekho“, he broke his silence. “Ab bas bhi karo yaar” he said, no longer concealing that smile. From the last seat of the bus I could not see much of what was transpiring there. So I went and sat next to one particular gentleman of the group, who was the most talkative and was also sitting alone.

After a few pleasantries and micro introductions here and there, in which I had claimed I am a software engineer, my neighbor, Bhavesh, started telling me why they were teasing their friend. These gentlemen, still in their olive green uniforms, were going home after 8 months. After their earlier posting in Rajasthan, they had to come directly to Secunderabad, thereby missing a break to go home. I was tempted to ask about the working conditions of Army Jawans in Rajasthan but decided not to, since that might spoil the cheerful mood of the group. So instead I jumped directly to the topic of Mr. Arpit Shah.

While everyone was going home for a holiday, Mr. Arpit here was going home to pick a bride, preferably his neighbor’s 18 year old daughter which he had confided to me later. The very next day after selecting his bride-to-be, he will get engaged to her, marry her and then come back to Secunderabad. The time duration he has for this whole sequence was 6 days since it takes him 3 days to travel to his home town and three days to come back and he has a leave of only 12 days. I felt slightly embarrassed when Bhavesh said all of this with no hint of a complaint in his tone. I have attended weddings where the wedding itself lasted a minimum of 4-5 days, leave alone the engagement and holidays before and after the event.

For my question on why Arpit was being teased since getting married is a fairly common practice around the world, he replied that Arpit was the first amongst the group to get married and had very eagerly responded to the marriage proposal too. The rest either did not get any such offers or declined whatever came their way. I went up to Arpit’s seat to congratulate him and to also ask him his opinion on the whole ongoing scene and how he felt about it. He removed the big suitcase on the seat and offered me place to sit on the seat and started off.

Bhai. Bore Lagta hain hume akele akele. Hindi Picture akele dekne mein kya matlab hain. Hume toh sirf kisika saath chahiye tha. Timepass ho jaayega. Isiliye, humne maa se kehdiya ki hume manzoor hain. Bas itnisi hi baat hai. Yeh Rajesh aur Bhavesh humesha aisi hi hai. Koi kaam nahi hai in dono ko”

At that moment, I could not help but smile at his honesty. Later, he asked me about my job and corporate life. I gave some politically correct answers, till he asked me something to which I had no answer, “Toh phir, yeh IT waalon ko intha paisa kyun dethe hain?” For all that I could remember, everyone always cribbed about their pay in every IT Company.

My stop had come and I had to get down. After wishing him and the rest of the group, I went smiling away into oblivion. It felt good to be in the company of men who had no idea of how great a job they were doing. Thank You Gentlemen.

P.S. Character names have been changed for the sake of national security. Otherwise, it is a true story which happened over a year ago.

Image Courtesy – The Hindu

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2 thoughts on “The Uncommon Men

  1. serving in army is a thankless job. It can be sensed in his words ‘ye IT walon ko itna paise kyon dete hain’.

    apparently army isn’t paid well in US too. don’t understand the logic behind it.

    reminds me of a scene in Lakshya where an army soldier argues with a media person ‘hume bhi aman aur asha chahiye, hume ladayi nahin ladna hai’

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