Joining the National Defence Academy
"What do you mean, you want to join the NDA. You have lost your elder brother in the Indo-Pak war and you want to follow him? Who will keep the name of our family going? Forget it," his father had thundered when he had gone up to him and said that he wanted to join the Army.
"But Dad" he had begun to reply when his father cut him off with a simple "I said, forget it. Don't even raise the topic again."
He had turned to his mother for help. She motioned him to wait. Later she had called him aside and said" Give me some time. I will bring your father around." He had said that he was not too good in studies and preferred an outdoor life, where he excelled in many games, all physical. Sure enough, his mother got him the forms to fill and within a fortnight had convinced his father that the Army was the right way to go. The Indian Union Public Commission Service test was not too taxing and he felt confident of passing. The results took two months and he passed. Soon thereafter, he had received the call letter for an interview to be followed by the Selection Process at the Services Selection Board at Dehradun. The SSB was easy as most of it dealt with outdoor activities and leadership qualities. In the final interview with the President of the Board, he was told he had done well and the fact that his elder brother was a martyr had helped considerably. He could be sure of getting the call letter to join the National Defence Academy at Khadakwasla in Poona. The call letter came as expected and his father accompanied him from Puri all the way to the NDA. Everything seemed so well organised that he felt that this was the right vocation for the likes of him.
The reception at the NDA was in the Cadet's Mess, the floor of which was waxed so well that he could see his face on the tiles. There were three Officers sitting at three tables, one each for the Indian Navy, the Army and the Air Force. There were hardly any formalities to complete. It as all over in fifteen minutes and the Officer told his father very politely that his son was now with the NDA and would be trained to become a man in every sense of the word. He also advised him to leave as soon as convenient as the Cadets had many chores to complete once they reached their assigned Squadrons. The farewell was emotional, as both he and his father choked back their tears. Ultimately, his father left in the coach provided for the accompanying parents or guardians. He was told that he was to go to Foxtrot Squadron and an orderly was detailed to carry his regulation black trunk, 40 inches by 24 by 20 and his holdall that contained his bedding. He followed the orderly who showed him around as they headed for Foxtrot Squadron. His life would take a meaningful path as soon as he reached his destination, Foxtrot Squadron.