Joining army was more of an accident than a conscious career choice for Shubharanjan. As a 11 years old kid, he had seen the Kargil war on TV and like every other kid of his age, he too watched the events unfolding on TV with rapt attention then forgot about it afterwards as pressure of studies and other stuff associated with growing up took all of his time. As an average student, he did alright in school and joined a fairly well reputed college. There, he joined NCC just for the extra grades it offered and completed level C. As the time of graduation approached, he too started applying for jobs with various private sector companies and government agencies, hoping to grab a well paying job like all of his classmates.
He was not entirely successful in his endeavours, managing only a clerical job in a small start up company that didn’t pay enough to justify the long hours his boss demanded. He got bored of the job within weeks and started looking for change. Most of his classmate were doing comparatively well, but a lot were stuck in jobs that they hated, just like him. One day he received a letter containing his admit card for the SSB exam. He had filled up the form on the NCC counter in his college months ago without really giving it a thought and had forgotten all about it. Although he enjoyed his stint with NCC, he had never given a serious thought to idea of joining armed forces as a career choice or even as a way to serve the nation. Nobody in his family had been in armed forces, except one of the cousins of his mother and he too was in police.
“Well, what the hell! What’s the harm in trying ? ” He said to himself and attended the exam, then again promptly forgot about it until the day he received the letter informing him that he had passed the written and was required to attend the second round for face to face interviews and physical tests. In good physical condition, he cleared the physicals easily but was shown the door in one of face to face interviews. Piqued and puzzled by his disqualification at almost the last round, he discussed the matter with one of his college mates whose elder brother was a Colonel in the army. The Colonel was gracious enough to listen and give him as much guidance as he could in his limited time. Although in meanwhile, he had managed to land another job that paid better than the previous one, he applied again for the SSB. Even though he still had doubts about clearing the exam, much to his own surprise he did so in second attempt.
His father was both proud and slightly amused while his mother showed more of a horrified surprise than pride. Both had been in government service their whole lives and idea of their only son joining the army had never crossed their mind. They had expected him to complete his studies, get a job somewhere , preferably in government sector and start his own family within a few years of job, just like rest of the extended family. He was even well on the expected path and now this army thing ! What with it’s risks and postings to remote places that no one even heard about.
The very concept was alien to them, but they had to give in to his wishes. Sure there was a little danger but it’s not that everybody died. Private sector job was ok but was boring as hell and he had loved the NCC. He even won 2 awards, didn’t he ? Additionally, even army was paying a competitive salary after the 6th Pay Commission. Who else in the whole family had the honour of wearing the olive green uniform ? And most importantly, finding a girl for marriage wouldn’t be hard now.
He resigned from the job next day and joined IMA for his training which he passed respectably. His first tour of duty in Punjab was peaceful and routine in every aspect and lasted 4 months. After which he was transferred to J&K;, which everybody rightly expected to be his first brush with real action. He had arrived at his post known only by Point 6431 in two weeks ago as an almost fresh Lieutenant still learning the ropes.