This is a guest post by Major Haseena P. M. Born and raised in picturesque Kerala’s Kannur district, Major Haseena is a post graduate in physics from the University of Calicut. By all appearances, she was an ordinary girl. But what set her apart from others her age was the colour of her dreams.
May Good Sense Prevail
Here’s a spirited peek into good old times of school and college days; thoughts that freeze my life at youth, forever!
For me, school was everything but studies. What an ironic combo – school and studies! Every term the progress card presented watertight evidence of this, with all subjects underlined in red (means fail), except for Craft which said ‘pass with distinction’. Ah! my saviour subject. That was how I made a quirky discovery – to always see the bright side. And I retained within, a sense of glory.
During class, my thoughts always hovered above the playground, thinking up strategies and tactics to deploy and launch the ‘Champion’ team for hopping and catching, hide n seek – suchlike games. To be a champion in these games were those dream-come-true moments and I was on top of my own world. This instilled in me the ultimate sense of devotion to school!
My primary mission was capturing the most-in-demand play area during lunch recess, under the shade of gigantic cotton trees all lined up like disciplined girls. This was by no means an easy task as I had to think up strategies to stealthily thwart the seniors’ encroachment and shoo away the tiny tots. It was a fulfilling accomplishment that had the flavour of victory, though all this exercise demanded that I skip a relaxed lunch and master the art of gulping my tiffin in no time without any choking. This imbibed in me a sense of sacrifice!
Sometimes to escape the long, continuous hours of captivity in class, I would take the excuse of going to the toilet. Taking the smallest steps and longest routes, through all possible corridors and verandas was in itself an exciting journey, to realise much later in life that – the longest route was the most fun. The only threat envisaged there was Noxious Noble. Though invisible, he was (for us believers) ubiquitous. Hence, sensing his invisible presence in that lonely, outlying toilet area, I would take a U-turn at the toilet entry. But this course took me through the most beautiful path, as during these circuitous routes to the toilet I experienced a sense of freedom!
Graduating to high school was an aspiration. The count of red lines in the progress card was on a decline. It was indeed an outcome of the combined effects of perspiration on my part and much ear pulling by maths Miss that left my innocent little ears black and blue. Yet, I was profoundly and passionately in love with Miss from the bottom of my heart, and I would get piloerection at the sight of her. It was her maths lessons that laid the cornerstone of learning in me. She was an inspiration and sowed in me a sense of responsibility!
Entry to college was a sweet milestone. A good number of us girls from school joined the same college, and so there we were, a reasonably sized band of buddies, large enough to shoo away the top dogs (guys) around in college. We had a burning desire to present a group song on the college fine arts day; little realizing it could elevate our status. The captain selected an apt song for a ‘welcoming evening’, and with days of practice, we sang with all our might on the D day. The top dogs and their gangs supported us with their continuous hooting (which muffled our song till the end), achieving the highest decibels in the history of the college. Only later did we realise that the mike had been switched off! But our presence on stage did make an impact, so much so that the guys were tossing coins on to the stage. I concluded, to strive and thrive; against all odds – that was sense of determination!
During my university days, I was surrounded by rank holders and toppers of their respective colleges. Invariably I found my strength there, too. By then, I had put together my thoughts for a dream career. It was no more a secret among my peers – my deep desire to join the armed forces. My PG classmates addressed me as ‘Major General’; some of the guys would give me an impressive mock salute. This made my desire for the uniform stronger. As destiny would have it, if not a ‘Major General’, I could earn the first part of the rank – and so here I am, Major Haseena P. M. with a sense of pride!
Even after my two failed attempts at the Service Selection Board interviews, I refused to give up, as I strongly believed that I was cut for the armed forces. When I received the joining letter after the third attempt, tears of joy rolled down when I hugged the letter in my arms tightly close to my heart – the triumph I always dreamed of was then a reality!
My deep desire to don the olive green uniform was by itself a motivation that kept me going through the tough training. The shining golden pip on my shoulders was a testimony to the fact that girls can be there too! Irrespective of gender, all are befittingly groomed to be gritty until the grave.
Being one of those from the initial batches of women who entered into services, postings were then kind of restricted to certain stations/locations. Of the different postings, my tenure at a remote location (classified as Highly Active Field Area) in J&K, a voluntary posting, was an escapade where I witnessed some frontline action, aiding school and educational development for under privileged local communities in that area and the experience was extremely compelling.
During my brief stint in uniform, the ethos of the army permeated deep in my thoughts and I will remain a soldier for life, with a sense of honour!
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