The Autobiography Of A Killer

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Manmohan
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Re: The Autobiography Of A Killer

Postby Manmohan » 03 Aug 2019 20:16

CHAPTER III


Duniya Hai Mauj Mein
Aur Hum Hain Fauj Mein!




Utho beta .. (Get up, son)
Nahi Mummy .. aaj school ki chhutti hai (No Mom, today is a school holiday)
Beta, wake up
WAKE UP
Noooo

‘THWACK’

The not so motherly ‘thwack’ on my back had me jump up and outside the bed, thoroughly disoriented.

Where the hell was I?

Slowly it all started coming back .. Jhelum Express, Kripal Singh Saab, NDA, Kilo Sqn, Bread and Cutlets for Dinner, Heading .. no .. running back to the sqn after dinner, being allotted a cabin to myself, crashing on the bed at 10 pm with Birsa’s instructions about what to do in the morning.

Yes, Birsa had mentioned something about what I was supposed to do in the morning. Something to do with getting up early.

THWACK

Saale, still sleeping?

As I slowly regained awareness of my surroundings, I saw Daljeet standing in front of me, a sense of urgency on his face.

Hurry up Khalsa, you are late. It is already 4 am

Hearing those words finally woke me up. My first day in the Academy and I was already late!

Wait a minute .. did I hear him right?

4 am?

FOUR O’ CLOCK?

IN THE MORNING?

AND I AM LATE?


By the time I could ask Daljeet for an explanation, he had vanished out of the room. I too decided to do the same and picked up my toiletries and moved out of the room, just in time to see Daljeet vanish into the bathroom.

I followed suit and was soon in the huge community bathroom. Even at four in the morning, it was a scene of hectic activity – teeth being brushed, early morning stubble being shaved, clothes being washed, bowels being cleared behind closed doors, a couple of cdts bathing and such likes.

Why are you late, Kaalsa? Come here

With these words, I saw Birsa emerge from behind one of the closed doors, bowels duly cleared.

Or maybe not, judging by the look on his face!

Even as I walked towards him, he spied Daljeet furiously brushing his teeth and called out to him too – Start Rolling, Daljeet.

It was a sight to see Daljeet clean up and start rolling on the bathroom floor within five seconds of being addressed thus.

Now came the barrage of questions, directed first at Daljeet, and then at me.

Why is this clown late? (There was that word again – Clown)

Why are you yourself late?

Where is his gown?

Now came my turn.

Where is your gown, Kaalsa?


Gown?, I asked him with a questioning glance.

This, you idiot, he hissed, pointing at the bathrobe he was wearing.

In my box, Sir.

All this while Daljeet was rolling on the floor, involuntary grunts escaping his mouth with every movement. He continued till the time I got enlightened with ‘bathroom privileges’ for first termers. Yes, that’s exactly what it was – ‘bathroom privileges’.

• Always wear a white kurta pyjama and a gown to bathroom
• Be out by 4am
• Use the urinal point on the left
• Use only the centre showerhead on the right hand side
• While washing clothes, use only the earmarked tap

And you are late on your very first day

These were the last words out of his mouth also the words that brought me back from my reverie.

4 am and I was already late!

Oh, by the way, Daljeet was still rolling on the floor. And not in laughter, mind you .. The term ROTFL was still not in wide usage that morning in January 1998. This rolling was the favourite punishment meted out by seniors, apparently. And judging by the way his back and shoulders were meeting the hard bathroom floor with each roll, it had to be painful.

I would later learn that this rolling, if done properly, would actually strengthen the shoulders and the back.

It seemed to be quite a place I had landed up in!

Finally, the storm passed, but mostly because I suspected Birsa himself was getting late and was past his own time for clearing out of the bathroom.

What was odd was to see Daljeet nearly on the verge of tears as he went about the rest of his business in the bathroom. An 18 year old Sardar on the verge of tears. Well, pretty soon the description would apply to me too, till such time I too got used to this routine. For the time being, however, I was blissfully ignorant of this fact.

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Re: The Autobiography Of A Killer

Postby Manmohan » 03 Aug 2019 20:22

Image

Dileep
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Re: The Autobiography Of A Killer

Postby Dileep » 04 Aug 2019 19:48

Nice doodle. Is that part of the book?

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Re: The Autobiography Of A Killer

Postby Manmohan » 06 Aug 2019 12:20

Dileep wrote:Nice doodle. Is that part of the book?


One of the drafts for the book cover, apparently.

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Re: The Autobiography Of A Killer

Postby Manmohan » 10 Aug 2019 09:10

It was Friday, 16th January 1998. My first two days in the Academy were to be spent kitting up. Then would come a Sunday and finally I would join training on Monday, 19th January.

Ah, Sunday .. I was back in my dream world. There was so much to be done, but mostly it was about catching up on some sleep and going to the market to call her up again. Oh yes, and my parents too!

Just 44 hours more before it was Sunday ..

KAALSA!

Birsa brought me back to the Friday morning. Sunday was still 44 hours away. As of right now, Daljeet, I and two more first termers were standing in front of Birsa’s cabin, with Rishi Yadav and another third term cadet, Mani, there too. It was 5 am and we were already late, again!

Apparently, it was some sort of uniform check by overstudies before the uniform check by a Cpl.

Suddenly a head popped out of a nearby cabin and told Mani to send a first termer to announce Reveille. It was Daljeet that he nodded to, in turn and off he went running to the central staircase, the black painted one, and started singing at the top of his voice.

What is Reveille, Khalsa?, Mani asked, and without waiting for me to say something, he himself answered that it was the ‘good morning, time to wake up’ announcement.

THIS was the time to wake up? And I was told one full hour back that I was late to clear out of the bathroom?

This one is sure fond of day dreaming,
mused Mani, to the amusement of Birsa and Rishi Yadav, even as they went about checking the uniforms of the four of us. I was the first one to be dismissed – still in a pair of white coloured shorts and T-Shirt I had carried from home as mentioned in the joining instructions.

But the other three were in for a harrowing time. First period was supposedly Drill and the uniform for that was the most ‘complicated’ one - Khaki shirt and shorts with razor sharp creases, brass epaulets shining bright, shoes with a shine I had never thought possible, and finally, black stockings folded down just below the knees and leather anklets over the boots.

Wait a minute

Stockings?

Guys wearing stockings??

And more importantly – Why the hell am I not as shocked as I should normally have been?


Looked like I had either become part of the system, or just become too numb with all the information overload of the past few hours to be shocked anymore!

Whatever be the reason, I let that pass for the time being as the uniform check commenced. Apparently, everything was wrong with everyone’s uniforms. Creases were not sharp enough, epaulets not shiny enough and shoes not polished enough. A hailstorm of rebukes marked the dress check before all of us were sent flying back to fix uniforms and report to Cpl Ramnath.

All five of us ran to the nearest coursemate’s cabin – Amit Sharma’s. The time was 5:05 am and they had 10 minutes to fix their uniforms before moving on to Cpl Ramnath’s cabin for the final dress check. Instead, everyone just sat down on their bums and thus began a hushed up introduction session. Amit Sharma was from Hapur, near Meerut, Daljeet from Dehradun and Ankur from Bilaspur. I gave a quick intro of myself, once again to incredulous looks on the faces of my audiences at my leaving a good opportunity in computer science and landing up in the Academy instead.

But what intrigued me the most was the transformation in Daljeet. From the scared, meek first termer, here in the company of coursemates, he was more confident, much more boisterous and loud (or atleast as loud as he could be in a setup where getting heard outside a small cabin could land one in trouble!). In fact, all of them were. And surprisingly, me too. For the first time since getting off the train at the Pune Railway Station, I felt at ease.

What I didn’t know at that time was that it was the beginning of a special, indescribable, lifelong bond – that of coursemates. We were all barely past the start point of a journey that would take us through hell, break us down in ways we would have never thought possible, and then mould us back into soldiers. And somewhere in this process, we would transform from mere colleagues to thickest of pals, and ultimately, closest of brothers. Yes, we would have fights too, bitter ones at that, but those would merely be a blip in our journey together. Through thick and thin, these were the guys who would always be there for you, no questions asked.

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Re: The Autobiography Of A Killer

Postby Manmohan » 12 Aug 2019 12:24

That realization would dawn after a while. For the time being, however, I was worried more about their uniforms.

Guys, what about your uniforms?, I asked, glancing nervously at the clock.

Pat came the reply from Daljeet - Abe tu dekhna, abhi in saare tikkiyon ki parade hogi! (Just you see, now these third termers will be hauled up)

Needless to say, Cpl Ramnath wasn’t very impressed with the turnout of the three that I was sitting in the cabin with, as also another first termer I hadn’t yet met.

Cpl Ramnath seemed to be a soft spoken, no nonsense kind of a guy. But an improperly stitched button on Daljeet’s shirt was sufficient to snap his patience. The buttons were supposed to be stitched in the form of two parallel lines, or ‘11’, instead of the ‘X’ that he had done them in. Soon the fire spread, and two more guys got pointed out.

Dismissing the rest of us, Ramnath told these three to get their overstudies. While they ran to bring their overstudies, I was told to come back to the sqn after the morning muster and do up my cabin till such time the others were gone for the first two periods of the day.

I merely nodded my dope-ish nod which I had become well practiced in during the 12 hours that had lapsed since I had stepped into the Academy.

You don’t know what is ‘morning muster’, do you?, he asked with a kind, elder brotherly smile, earlier anger forgotten.

Hmmm .. so not all seniors are perpetually frowning, I thought.

You’ll find out soon enough, he said, without waiting for an answer.

Welcome to NDA, Manmohan. Now get going from here before you land up in trouble.

Without waiting for a second, I was out of there and inside my cabin which happened to be right across the corridor from Cpl Ramnath’s cabin. Not knowing what to do, I just sat down on my easy chair. My first day in the NDA had barely begun and yet it was quite ‘exciting’ already. The sky was still dark outside and yet here I was, bathed and ready for the day, even if only in a white shorts and T-Shirt. Mom would have been so happy to see me up so early in the morning, I thought, memories of she trying to wake me up at 7:30 every single morning and I begging for a few minutes more, flashing in front of me.

And that triggered something that was so far kept in the background by the rapid fire turn of events – Homesickness.

A totally new feeling .. something which I had never experienced before, something which I had never thought would ever bother me.

But that morning, sitting in my cabin, finally a few minutes to myself after a rollercoaster ride in an alien environment that I was yet to fathom, I realized one thing.

I was missing my home. Terribly so.

And that was that. A pent up flood of emotions suddenly threatened to breach the dam holding it back and my eyes started to brim over.

I wanted to go back home.

I had just turned 18, and here I was - about to burst into tears. Now I knew how Daljeet must have been feeling earlier in the morning. But before I actually lost control over my emotions, I heard the voice of Cpl Ramnath from outside my door.

You bloody jokers, have you seen the turnout of those first termers?

The demeanour was still somewhat ‘elder brotherly’, but a bit stricter than when he was talking to me. I quickly wiped my eyes clean and out of sheer curiosity, opened my cabin door and popped my head out for a quick glance to see what was happening.

The sight I saw made me understand what Daljeet meant when he said ‘Abe tu dekhna, abhi in saare tikkiyon ki parade hogi!’

I saw Rishi Yadav, Mani and one more third termer whom I hadn’t seen earlier, doing push-ups because their understudies were not appropriately turned out. But before I could see more, my eyes met Cpl Ramnath’s and a sharp, non-verbal rebuke sent me back into my cabin.

However, that one glimpse put some more things in perspective. One could now see the reason why Birsa was in a perpetual frown whenever he saw me – I screwing up would result in he getting screwed in turn!

So there it was. Third termers were humans too!

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Re: The Autobiography Of A Killer

Postby Manmohan » 16 Aug 2019 21:44

Soon they were dismissed by Ramnath and went about looking for their respective understudies. The circle of punishments was now complete!

Finally, about 30 minutes later, came the first major event of the day – the morning muster. The entire sqn was lined up in the small parade ground in front of it, different courses in different dresses as per their classes in the first period, their cycles standing right beside them. Reports were taken to ensure every soul was accounted for, a first termer called out to lead the sqn in the NDA Prayer. The way it was done was that he would move to the centre and shout out the prayer, one line at a time, with the rest of the sqn shouting the same behind him.

O God, help us to keep ourselves physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight, that in doing our duty to Thee and our country we may keep the honour of the Services untarnished.

Strengthen us to guard our country from external aggression and internal disorders. Awaken our admiration for honest dealing and clean thinking, and guide us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong.

Kindle our hearts with fellowship for our comrades at arms and with loyalty to the men we command. Endow us with the courage which is born of the love of what is noble and which knows no compromise or retreat when truth and right are in peril.

Grant us new opportunities of service to Thee, to our country and to the men we lead, and ever help us to place such service before self.


Not wanting to be left out, I too decided to shout out the few words I was able to make out, and lip sync the rest. During the din that this collective recitation of the prayer caused, I felt a tap at my shoulder. As I instinctively turned back, I heard an alarmed whisper – Keep looking straight.

It’s me, Kadam, from the SSB interview in Mysore. Remember?

Remember? How could I have forgotten the night we both sneaked out of the SSB Centre and came back post midnight after a night exploring Mysore!

But then, Kadam should have been a course senior to me. I wondered what he was doing standing here with first termers. It was a while later that I came to know that he had been relegated to first term after he missed a bunch of important tests when he had to proceed on an unplanned leave after the sudden demise of his mother.

Suddenly the muster was over and the CSM shouted some order. The result was an organised chaos as everyone ran towards the narrow exit of the sqn parade ground and onwards to their respective training areas.

For the second time this morning, I was all alone. Well, almost alone. CSM Ohri had not yet left. He called out to me and asked how was the first day in Kilo. I mumbled something to the effect of it being good. He then told me to unpack my stuff and do up my cabin till breakfast time. Looked like I had two days to get ready for the rigours of training that lay ahead. The plan for these two days had been more or less explained to me by Cpl Pathania who himself was excited as hell at being excused post breakfast training for this duration.

Slowly I made my way back to my cabin and started unpacking my box. One by one things came out of the box and went inside the small cupboard in the cabin. In the middle of it all was a ‘good luck’ card by her. It was all I needed on a slow, almost anti-climactic morning after such crazy couple of days. I kept reading and re-reading it.

Before I knew it, a couple of hours had passed and there was a commotion in the sqn that slowly grew in intensity as more and more cdts returned from their respective Outdoor Trainings (ODTs) that mark the first two periods. Now was the rush to take a quick bath, change back to the uniform for the academics that would now follow from third to the seventh period.

Ahh .. Academics .. Sunny Deol was still laughing at me since I first met him during the study period last evening. Oh, and the turbaned and bespectacled Rambo too!

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Re: The Autobiography Of A Killer

Postby Manmohan » 25 Aug 2019 01:21

Khalsa .. Manmohan .. Oye open your door .. You are not supposed to latch it from within .. Hurry up

It was Cpl Pathania. I opened my door, suddenly unsure of how he would react at all the mess I had created instead of unpacking and putting away my stuff neatly. In my defence, I’d never ever done that before in my life!

Yes, I knew how to iron and fold my clothes. But the burden of studies over the past few years had made sure that I had never had to do any of it. Well, it was good while it lasted, I thought!

Chal, let us hurry to the Mess for breakfast. There is a lot to be done before lunch. Hurry!

Cpl Pathania had a typical style of talking – a rapid-fire barrage in an excited tone. He had too much energy, it seemed. Anyhow, the hungry me didn’t dwell too much on his conversation style and instead just ran along with him to the Mess. No cycles were necessary during the academics periods, apparently.

Stick with me, or you will get lost so bad you will not know whether you are still in the NDA, or somewhere else in Pune, came the next instruction from Pathania, his style a bit changed due to the running. We were once again in a squad of four, heading from the Number 3 Training Battalion that housed Kilo Sqn, to the Cadets’ Mess.

Breakfast was not as formal an affair as dinner. I sat on the seniors’ table because I had to stay within sight of Cpl Pathania.

Boy, was he chatty!

But I couldn’t care less. Occasional Yes Sirs were all that I brought to the conversation even as I concentrated on my first meal of the day. It was so different from the ghee soaked paranthas I was used to. No paranthas out here. The breakfast menu for the day was boiled eggs, cutlets, beans in brown sauce, milk, toast, butter, jam, tea and the best of all, bacon!

Bacon .. It was the first time in my life that I had tasted bacon. And it was love at first bite, an affair that continues to this day!

Breakfast done, we headed back to the sqn and straight to my cabin.

Khalsa, let’s have some Panjeeri that you have brought!

Panjeeri? Now? It’s not even 10 minutes since we’ve had a hearty breakfast!, these words came running into my mind but I wisely desisted from letting them out.

Yes Sir, sure. Here it is

I saw him hungrily gobble down handfuls even as I sat nearby, wondering at where all this diet went if at the end of it all he still looked like the brand ambassador of an impoverished African country.

Next on the agenda was an interview with the Divisional Officer, Flight Lieutenant (Flt Lt) NP Pradeep, Indian Air Force. A quick re-polishing of shoes, re-tucking of my shirt and tightening of my belt and I was ready.

If you think I had experienced enough new experiences in the last 48 hours, you couldn’t be more wrong. The Sqn Office was on the ground floor of the sqn building onto a flank. With every step as we approached, I could sense Pathania’s demeanour change. The carefree, peppy, talkative Pathania turned more and more serious with each step we took towards the Sqn Office. He was a totally different person by the time we climbed down the stairs and reached the Sqn Office – serious, business-like and a tad bit apprehensive too.

Wait here, Khalsa

With these words he vanished inside the Sqn Office. Not a moment later I heard a loud stamping of feet and a crisp, loud, militaristic ‘Good Morning, Sir.’

Then the voices ceased. He would be inside the office, I guessed, correctly. Soon there was another loud stamping of feet and another ‘Good Morning, Sir’, and out he came, visibly relaxed, the twinkle back in his eyes, carrying a bundle of papers with him.

Go

This was all the prompting I got. A deep breath, and I found myself stepping ahead to meet my Divisional Officer, or Div O (pronounced Divo) for short. As I reached the door, I realized I didn’t know what to do next!

Was he also to be addressed as Saab?
But Cpl Pathania addressed him as Sir
There are three officers sitting in this room, whom do I address?
Or am I to address all of them simultaneously?
How does one address three seniors simultaneously, especially when they are sitting on opposite ends of a room?
Where the hell have I landed up
I miss Mummy
Do I stamp too, the way Cpl Pathania did?
How exactly do you stamp that way?


With that last mental query came Sunny Deol again, trying to teach me .. but no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t produce even half the sound that the skinny Pathania did. All this while, the turbaned and bespectacled Rambo sat smugly with a ‘No such stamping business in America’ look in his eyes

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Re: The Autobiography Of A Killer

Postby Manmohan » 31 Aug 2019 10:13

Come back to reality, I prodded myself.

Good Morning, Sir, I heard myself squeak once again, though this time directed at no one in particular as my eyes quickly darted from one officer to another, but finally settling in eye contact with the one who was in the Air Force uniform.

My guess was correct!

Come here

I decided not to attempt the loud stamping I had heard Pathania do. Instead, I just walked right up to his table and sat on the chair he offered.

The interview comprised mostly the usual questions followed by the usual advice. But his parting words stood out amongst them all – ‘I know things must be difficult for you right now, but trust me, they will become easier as time passes.’

I kept repeating the words in my head as I walked out of his office and to Cpl Pathania. We went back to my room and over the next few minutes in it going over the orders for me. It primarily included he giving me my Academy Number, handing over my dossier for filling up the initial details and a form asking me for my choice of subject for my graduation.

Your Academy Number is 25867, Kohli, and your identity is 25867/K/99, ‘K’ standing for your Sqn, and 99 for your Course Serial Number. Got that?

Yes Sir, got that.


Next, I had to choose one out of three options – BSc with Chemistry, BSc with Computer Science or a BA degree. Pathania winked, hinting that the BA degree was the best and the easiest choice. Sunny Deol too appeared right behind him at that very moment with a ‘thumbs up’ and a wide, toothy grin.

And I ticked on BSc with Computer Science.

Both of them sadly shook their heads from side to side. But I was sure. I prided myself in my academic performance and it was but natural for me not to shirk away to the easier option of BA. I would continue learning computers and top the BSc in my batch. Yes, I was sure.

I would fail in mathematics mid-term exam in my second term.

But that was about nine months in future. As of right now, I was all pumped up, especially after those encouraging words by Flt Lt Pradeep.

Are you sure?

It was more of a warning from Pathania, than a question. I replied in affirmative and signed on the form. To this day, there are moments I wish I’d listened to him!

Documentation done, we went out to issue uniforms, shoes and other kit items from the QM, or Quarter Master Fort. It was a fair distance away, so Pathania had arranged a bike for me. Yes, that is what these folks in NDA called their bicycles – Bikes.

We were back in the sqn two hours later. I had in my possession four pairs of uniforms, six pairs of shoes and a whole lot of web equipment that would see me through the three years I would be here in the Academy.

I thought that was it, and sat down on the easy chair after dumping the stuff on my bed. But Pathania had different plans, the first of which was teaching me the basics of military life – DID I TELL YOU TO SIT DOWN?

Next moment I was on my hands, doing push-ups so that I never forget to give due respect to seniors. Pathania kept count.

One .. Up .. Two .. Up .. Three .. Up .. so it went, on and on till I collapsed after the twenty second push-up.

KILLERS DON’T KNEEL, KHALSA

Looked like he thought it was the right time for me to be acquainted with the Killers’ Logo:

Kill ‘em Kut ‘em But Kneel Knot

Yes, ‘cut’ and ‘not’ too were spelled with a ‘K’. Apparently that was the peculiar deal with ‘Kilo’ Sqn .. the letter ‘K’ was to be used to spell such things.

Then came the next lesson. But this one I figured out myself after he spoke the next few words.

Chal, take out the Panjeeri .. let’s have some before we move on ahead.

At this moment I had an epiphany. I realized why he told me to tell no one that I was carrying eatables from home. It was so that only he exclusively would hog on it, along with me. So the appropriate lesson was learnt – Keep your eatables well hidden!

Anyhow, a few handfuls of Panjeeri later, we were off again, this time to the Gole Market. Excitable as he naturally was, I was shocked to see that his excitement was growing even more as we neared the market.

The reason for that was soon apparent.

Instead of the market, we went to a complex across the roundabout, the one right behind the huge ship that I’d seen the last evening. Cycles parked inside of the roundabout, we moved across the road to that complex. His excitement was at its peak. He was walking fast. So fast, that I had to jog along just to keep up.

And for what?

The ‘Austin Bakery’!

I thought we were there for issuing some more kit / uniform. But as per Pathania, eating three donuts and an egg-roll was the first step in doing this.

Damn, this stick thin guy had ‘some’ appetite!

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Re: The Autobiography Of A Killer

Postby Manmohan » 31 Aug 2019 10:19

Folks, the book is finally in print.
Here's what the final cover looks like.

Image

Amazon Link

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Re: The Autobiography Of A Killer

Postby morem » 31 Aug 2019 20:45

I read it yesterday, really enjoyed it, will review soon

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Re: The Autobiography Of A Killer

Postby SudiptoDey » 01 Sep 2019 18:09

This is my first post on BRF after about ten years being a lurker. Read the entire book yesterday and it took about 7 hours. Really entertaining and great insight. Not even missed a line once I started and had to skip the lunch, too. :D . Great work sir. Thank you very much.

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Re: The Autobiography Of A Killer

Postby Dileep » 02 Sep 2019 08:01

Ordered two hard copies. One for self and one as a surprise gift to my son's friend who wants to get to NDA.

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Re: The Autobiography Of A Killer

Postby Lekhraj » 05 Sep 2019 17:38

Ordered a copy. Eagerly waiting for the arrival of the book.

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Re: The Autobiography Of A Killer

Postby Manmohan » 07 Sep 2019 07:33

Thanks for the feedback, Gentlemen. The same has been conveyed to the author and he expresses his gratitude.
For those who are looking for a paperback outside india, international shipping is available on the website of the publisher - Link.
Will be continuing the story here for a bit more.
Last edited by Manmohan on 07 Sep 2019 07:53, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Autobiography Of A Killer

Postby Manmohan » 07 Sep 2019 07:39

‘Snacks’ done, we went to ‘Kapoor and Company’ that was next to the bakery (or was it the other way round?). This time no uniforms were issued, but they took a lot of measurements for the uniforms they would stitch for me – about 16 pairs in total of seven different types of uniforms – PT, Mufti, Sqn Colours, Khaki Dress (KDs), Walking Outs, Blue Patrol and White Patrol.

Then there were the PT shoes, three different types of socks / stockings, Sqn Coloured Vest and T-Shirt, an Olive Green (OG) Jersey, a satchel and 12 handkerchiefs too – readymade items that were just ready to be handed over, depending on the size. My hands were full .. figuratively speaking .. since the satchel proved enough to hold it all!

It was close to lunch time as we finally moved out. As if he could read my mind, Pathania suggested that instead of going to the Mess, we have lunch at the Gole Market instead.

I played along, if only just to see how much more could he hog. And he didn’t disappoint. Six aloo paranthas and a coke later, he ordered a lassi and demolished it in one go. And then he got two paranthas packed for later!

He wouldn’t have been more than 55kg even with all that ‘nourishment’ inside him. I weighed about 5kg more, but could barely manage to finish half of what he did.

Regardless, he didn’t let me pay my share. Another lesson was learnt – in the profession of arms, in such a setting, juniors were not expected to pay.

No going Dutch here .. the senior will pay!

Lunch done, we were soon back in the Sqn. And just in time, it seemed, since the other cdts had started trickling back after lunch. As soon as I reached my cabin, the first thing I did was to throw away my newly issued satchel on the bed and plonk my bum on the easy chair. It had been a tiring day indeed. I had just started to doze off when a horrified scream shook the hell out of me.

KAALSA … an alarmed Birsa was at my door.

LOOK AT YOUR CABIN .. YOU BLOODY BHANGI .. IS THIS HOW YOU LIVE .. SORT OUT ALL YOUR STUFF. RIGHT NOW.

YOU DIDN’T EVEN SWEEP THE FLOOR. WANT ME TO DO IT?


On and on he went. It took me quite a bit of effort to put in a few words. The window presented itself when Mani appeared to inquire into what the commotion was about, and Birsa got distracted for a moment.

Sir, I think the maid didn’t know that this room was also occupied, I tried to explain.

MAID??


Birsa looked as if he had seen a snake.

And Mani? His eyes teared up trying to suppress his laughter. He was looking alternatively at Birsa and at me, unable to say anything. Finally, he gave a sympathetic pat on Birsa’s back, along with a pitying look, and left to see what Amit Sharma, his own understudy, was up to.

YOU BLOODY IDIOT .. THIS IS NOT YOUR POP’S ACADEMY THAT YOU WILL HAVE MAIDS CLEANING YOUR CRAP.

‘YOU’ ARE THE MAID.


He kept shouting at me as loud as he dared, lest someone his senior hear it and take Birsa himself to task. So his shouting was more of a loud hiss.

There was a ‘Pop’ for everyone in here!

Go to Daljeet’s cabin, borrow his broom and clean up your ****** cabin.

So here I was, with a broom in my hand, sweeping up the muck that had accumulated in my cabin, wondering if my cabin’s floor could ever be as shiny as Daljeet’s. At the same time I wished my Mom could see me cleaning up my room. She would have cried with happiness, especially after all those years of trying to getting me to do it without success!

Manmohan
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Re: The Autobiography Of A Killer

Postby Manmohan » 17 Sep 2019 16:10

Soon Birsa was back, standing on my head, this time with first termers Daljeet and Amit Sharma in tow, getting the stuff in my cabin organised in standard pattern. We worked hard for the next half an hour. Well, it was mostly Daljeet and Amit who were working, because I had no clue whatsoever as to what needed to be done. Instead, I stood with a notepad and a pen, noting down the list of things that needed to be bought for the cabin that Birsa was rattling out at a rapid fire rate – brown paper, talc sheets, cardboard, some more brown paper, housewife kit, shoe brush, white shoe polish, mansion cream, safety pins – big and small, dusting cloth, broom, mop, a spare set of toiletries to be put on display during inspections, some stationery for classes .. and so on.

The list went on and on. Even as I robotically noted everything he was saying, my mind was stuck at housewife kit. What in the world might that be .. and more importantly, why the hell did I need one!

Instead of being curious and asking what it meant, I decided to be patient and find out for myself in some time when I would buy it.

Suddenly I realized my room was looking a bit like other cadets’ rooms. There still was a lot to be done, but the basic setup was well in place. And just in time too as Amit Sharma was soon called to announce the afternoon fall-in. I was told to quickly change to games dress, pick up my hockey stick and shin pads and run down.

So I quickly changed, fished out my brand new hockey stick from under the bed, along with my shin pads and ran down as fast as I could. Yet I was greeted with ‘You are late’ by the third termers!

Apparently, first termers were supposed to be standing in the fall-in even before it was announced, as were second termers. Well, this was drilled into my head as I was made to do a few dozen push-ups behind the rest of my coursemates.

Soon the seniors also joined in, all cdts accounted for, and off we went to the hockey fields. And yes, we ran. I had stopped being surprised by running as a preferred mode of commute anymore. The fields allotted to Kilo were just about a kilometre away. By the time we reached there, I was ready to collapse with exhaustion. Add to that the fact that I had last played hockey for a total of 30 minutes, about four years ago when the sports store in the school had purchased new equipment. No wonder I was not in the brightest of the moods!

But still, here we were, at the ground, and I could actually feel the strict senior – junior relationship relaxing due the fact that there was no such thing as seniority in a sports field, just equal team-mates. The inter sqn hockey competition was still a couple of months away, so as of now we were to practise and hone the very basic skills – hitting and stopping. Accordingly, we were divided into two teams to do the same.

This done, we started running again.

Yes, running. Again!

Warming up, you see!

Manmohan
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Re: The Autobiography Of A Killer

Postby Manmohan » 29 Sep 2019 21:04

So we ran. And then we ran some more. Then came the stretching, followed by some more running because, well, warming up!

Finally, when I was on the verge of collapse, we were allowed to pick up our hockey sticks and start hitting the balls.

It looked like despite having last played hockey about four years ago, my game was unaffected. I was still just as pathetic at it!

But the seniors were encouraging. Even Birsa!

Out here, no one was wearing his seniority on his sleeves. All were equally keen to learn / teach so that the sqn could field the best four teams that it could. Thus went the most blissful one hour of mine in the Academy thus far. There was laughter, there were rebukes, there was encouragement, and then there was that bonding which would make all Killers across all seniorities, one single band of brothers when outside the sqn, internal issues notwithstanding. And I was slowly coming to realize why these guys had such a huge appetite, yet looked so famished – the sheer amount of physical activity ensured this.

But then, it was soon over. Out of the blue, a fifth termer, Sgt (short for Sergeant) Brar got everyone together, and after about 15 more minutes of stretching, ordered us back to the sqn. So, we started running again!

In order to prevent myself from collapsing with exhaustion, I kept thinking when was the last time in my life that I had run so much. Apart from the 800m race during school sports day while in Class XI, nothing else came to mind. I had finished second last in that race, by the way, and promised myself that I wouldn’t run that much ever again in my life!

The irony brought an unlikely smile. But all I could think now was getting back into my cabin, removing my shoes, and just sitting on the easy chair, massaging my legs.

However, there was one part of my brain telling me this wouldn’t be the case. Going by what I had seen thus far, there wouldn’t be any time to relax. And I couldn’t have been more correct.

When we reached the sqn building, instead of moving inside, we moved to the rear of the sqn into a giant square bounded by the four sqn buildings of the Number 3 Training Battalion – India, Juliet, Kilo and Lima. Once all were accounted for, the CSM arrived, took the final report from Sgt Mukund and a moment later, we were on our hands, ready for some more push-ups.

But before we started, CSM Ohri shouted at the top of his voice – HOW’S THE JOSH??

The instantaneous, equally loud reply from the rest of the 140 of us was ‘HIIIIIIIIIGH SIIIIIIIRRRRR’, and thus pumped up, we started the push-ups, counting loudly at each one. Thankfully, the count only proceeded till 20, before we got up, and were told to move in.

These twenty were called the ‘Moving – In Push-Ups’ and were a daily affair, just one of those things that the entire sqn did together that went a small way into instilling that brotherhood which would last for a lifetime.

But the moment one stepped inside the building, we were back to the lowest rung in the food chain. As soon as I entered my cabin I found Birsa too had followed me, that scowl back on his face.

Manmohan
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Re: The Autobiography Of A Killer

Postby Manmohan » 07 Oct 2019 19:31

What followed was another huge rush to take my second bath of the day, get ready, clean up my cabin and settle down for the two hour long study period – all of it in the next 15 minutes. Without waiting to think about the enormity of it all, I ran to the bathroom.

It took me a good 20 minutes to accomplish the tasks, last three of those with Birsa inside my cabin, encouraging me to tie my turban quickly, as well as neatly. Ok, granted that I was not too comfortable with tying a turban, never having tied it as a matter of routine, but a guy from South India advising me on how I should tie it was a bit .. amusing .. to put it politely!

To cut a long story short, I was ready and settled in my study chair by 6:10pm, a full 20 minutes before the study period was to officially commence. Talk about military efficiency!

These extra 20 minutes were utilized to quickly run to the Tea Room and partaking of the last remaining drops of tea after all seniors had been through their fill.

But now that I was settled for the study period, still with 10 minutes to go before it officially commenced, I was faced with a unique problem. I had no books to study from!
Fortunately, the cabin doors were supposed to be left wide open during study periods, and from across the corridor, Cpl Ramnath saw my predicament and walked into my cabin.

So, Manmohan, you have a problem here?

I smiled in return.

Go to Amit Sharma and pick up a book from him. He too is doing BSc Computer Science.

So I got up, and as first termers were required to, ran to his cabin.

Only third termers onwards were permitted to walk in the corridors of the sqn building.

Amit was taken aback at my sudden, unexpected appearance. But by now I knew the reason why.

Cpl Ramnath has sent me here to borrow some books for study period.

Hearing this, the tall guy from Hapur, near Meerut, visibly relaxed and an impish smile replaced the terrified look on his face.

Abe kitaab baad mein, pehle ye kha! (Books later, first eat this), he said excitedly as he fished out a packet of ‘Tiger Biscuits’ from somewhere deep inside his study table.

We both quickly took two biscuits each from the nearly empty packet. I followed his cue as he slowly, very deliberately chewed on them so as to make as little noise as possible!

Damn, I thought, what a sneaky little game this was, of hidden eats!

Soon I was out of his room with a computer science textbook. The quick tête-à-tête and eats had taken less than sixty seconds.

Back in my room, I settled into the study chair with the book in my hands. A quick glance across the corridor and a nod from Cpl Ramnath later I was browsing through the book, and a few moments after that I was snoozing!

The long day had finally caught up with me .. as did DCC Pilgaonkar, who was in charge of the first floor!

VipinM
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Re: The Autobiography Of A Killer

Postby VipinM » 07 Oct 2019 20:51

Purchased the book on amazon kindle and thoroughly enjoyed it.

PS: My first post after lurking for close to a decade

Manmohan
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Re: The Autobiography Of A Killer

Postby Manmohan » 13 Oct 2019 16:24

VipinM wrote:Purchased the book on amazon kindle and thoroughly enjoyed it.

PS: My first post after lurking for close to a decade


:)

Manmohan
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Re: The Autobiography Of A Killer

Postby Manmohan » 13 Oct 2019 16:28

Thwack .. his hand landed on my back, nearly knocking out my spectacles!

Ya Khalsa, Computer Science, huh?, he said, making no mention of my ‘meditation’.

Yes Sir, I mumbled.

Good. Study hard.

Yes Sir.

Good,
he said and moved out on his rounds, apparently to ensure no one else was meditating!

I was just glad that he was gone. But now I dared not doze off. The book too was interesting, basically a repeat of programming that I had already learnt in Classes XIth and XIIth.

Thank God for the Pascal programming language that kept me awake for the 90 minute long study period. Soon the quiet of the study period was pierced by a loud scream .. err .. announcement by another coursemate, Aditya Hooda, whose accent made it clear which part of the country he was from!

So far, I had met 20 out of my 24 coursemates, and they were from 14 different states. Add to that the rest of the seniors in the sqn, and very nearly every state from the Union of India was represented in the sqn building.

Anyhow, for the time being, that was the last thought in my mind as I joined the rest of the cdts running down towards the ante room for the ‘orders fall-in’, the daily dose of orders from above that the CSM would pass to the rest of us before we ran to the Mess for dinner.

I was getting used to the routine now. And it was only my second day in the Academy .. the words of Flt Lt Pradeep rang in my ears – You will get used to it.

Things were finally looking up. Or were they?

Was it too soon to think this way?


The philosophical me kept contemplating on these big questions even as I kept up with the sea of bodies running towards their last meal of the day, but the answers were provided to me by Birsa the moment we were face to face across the dinner table.

You bloody bugger .. not even born in the Academy and you want to sleep in the study period?

So there it was, I would need to wait till I was ‘born’ in the Academy before I could contemplate on the larger issues of whether I was finally getting used to the place or not. Oh, and before I could afford to doze off during study period too!

Meet me in my cabin at nine, I will teach you how to stay awake during study period.

Yes Sir.

Eat now.

Yes Sir.


Thankfully, the dinner this night was something I could actually identify – dal and rice, alongwith aloo-gobhi ki sabzi.

The moment I took the first helping and passed on the dishes to Daljeet, Birsa shot the next question.

What is for dinner today?

Damn, I was supposed to memorize the Bill of Fare.

However, it was not a very difficult question to answer that night. Thinking quickly, I replied, Sir, Rice, Arhar Dal, Aloo-Gobhi ki Sabzi.

And?

And salad,
I added, quickly glancing at the table, looking for whatever was left that I hadn’t mentioned.

Anything else?

Before I could stop myself, I said ‘And water also, Sir.’

Rishi Yadav almost fell off his chair, laughing, bathing Daljeet and me in a fine mist of water that escaped his mouth. However, Birsa was hardly amused.

Manmohan
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Re: The Autobiography Of A Killer

Postby Manmohan » 01 Dec 2019 12:08

You want to joke, Kaalsa? What is the pudding for tonight?

I was stumped. Pudding was supposed to be served after the main course had been consumed. I had no way of even guessing what it might be. But Rishi Yadav came to my rescue, thanks, probably to the dose of entertainment.

Abe Birsa, let him eat. You don’t want him to die, or worse, run away, within his first week. Daljeet, you tell what is for pudding.

Sir, it is milk seviyaan.


With that, Birsa’s ego was somewhat satisfied, and we started eating.

Five minutes later, Daljeet and I were dismissed and were outside the Mess, running back to the Sqn, so that I could report to Birsa in PT Dress in order to learn how to stay awake in Study Period, in his words.

But how the hell did he find out in the first place, I wondered aloud.

Abe, DCC Pilgaonkar hauled up Cpl Ramnath, who in turn, has called Birsa himself in PT Dress to ‘teach him how to be an overstudy’, Daljeet clarified.

Ah, the circle of punishments, I mused!

It was while doing push-ups at about midnight when the circle of punishments stopped being amusing. It would go on for about an hour more.

I was finally a part of the system!

Next day was more of the same, till lunch time atleast. Once again I was late for bathroom clearance, dismissed after muster to do up my cabin, went out with Cpl Pathania to breakfast and thereafter to issue more stuff, this time books from the academics block along with my registration for the BSc (Computer Science) degree from the JNU. Then off to Kumar and Company for the uniforms for which I had given my measurements a day earlier, followed by eleven aloo paranthas between the two of us and we were back in the sqn.

Thereafter, it being a Saturday, no games fall-in happened. Instead, all seniors went out for their respective hobby clubs while the first termers were left in the care of Cpl Sumit Sapru, who was excused that afternoon. So he decided to make them do some PT. The only problem was that his understanding of ‘some’ PT was making us all run and do push-ups and pull-ups and climb up ropes in an endless cycle!

The results were mixed. Some of us were reasonably fit by virtue of having been through Sainik Schools / RIMC (Rashtriya Indian Military College) like Pandit, Suresh, Praveen, Bhaduria, Dipu and Akshat; some were naturally gifted such as Hooda, Ankur, Amit Sharma, Mahender, Srivenkat; then there were those who were struggling, but having been through the grind for two weeks, were able to cope. In this category were Bisht and Kadam.

Finally, were those that were ‘Dharti Par Bojh’ – Elbie, Raman and Daljeet! These three were the heaviest of all and physically the most challenged. And this after they were apparently already lighter by seven to ten kilograms each in the past two weeks!

But being heavy had its own advantages too. They were BIG (no pun intended) motivators for the others to do all this physical activity in all sincerity.

How, you asked?

Anyone found slacking was punished by running around the battalion area with one of these on his shoulders – a trip of approximately 500 metres. No one, I say again, NO ONE, was very keen on doing so!

As for me, I really didn’t know what category I fitted in. Yes I weighed 60kg, but was still far below the heavyweight trio. I had been a reasonably fit guy during school days, but this kind of physical activity was way beyond my wildest dreams. So much so that less than 15 minutes into the session, I was literally gasping for dear life. But thankfully, Cpl Sapru was understanding and allowed me a moment to catch my breath every now and then by letting me ride the shoulders of the slackers in addition to the heavyweight trio!

Finally, after about half an hour of ‘torture’, Cpl Sapru called me and Amit Sharma out and sent us away to issue me a bicycle.

Oh the looks the rest of the coursemates gave us as we ditched them!

They were still brothers alright. They still are. They will always be. But at that moment, we were just too happy to not be a part of this bonding session being choreographed by Cpl Sapru. They could do it without us this one time!

Manmohan
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Re: The Autobiography Of A Killer

Postby Manmohan » 01 Dec 2019 12:12

Manmohan wrote:Amazon Link
Folks, the book is finally in print.
Here's what the final cover looks like.

Image


For those who are looking for a paperback outside india, international shipping is available on the website of the publisher - Link


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