Two characters – ‘C’ (Capt Cautious) and ‘R’ (Capt Reckless)
Scene: A young Captain R sitting in a bar, drinking. (Old pattern Indian Army camouflage uniform. Four ribbons on his uniform – Sena Medal, Op Rakshak, Samanya Seva Medal, 50 yrs medal)
Suddenly in walks Captain C (wearing same uniform but with only three ribbons – Op Rakshak, Samanya Seva Medal and 50 years medal). Scans the bar and sees his old friend R sitting alone, drinking. His eyes light up on seeing him and walks up to him.
R hasn’t seen him. Suddenly he hears C – ‘Kitni baar bola hai akele akele mat piya kar’. He almost jumps up & hugs C tightly. C sits across a small table from R.
R – Saala, it’s been what, like 2 years? Good to see you bud! WTF are you doing here?
C – Banihal transit camp mein koi kya karne aata hai? My Paltan is in Dras. Going back there after leave. Just one of the perks of the job that here at Banihal you get to have a drink sitting next to the Chenab, with good friends. (Pause) Well, mostly. Sometimes one ends up having a drink with ppl like you! (Both laugh). And what are YOU doing here?
R – I am the convoy commander of the Srinagar – Banihal convoy.
C (laughing) – So your CO finally found a way to keep you away from trouble?
R laughs along .. ‘Well, the jury is still out on that’
Waiter brings a drink for C – a rum with two ice cubes in it. Looks questioningly at C.
C (to waiter) – Mere drinks Capt R Saab ke naam par likho. Saab ko Sena Medal mila hai abhi abhi!
R (mock anger) – Saale kanjoos!
C – Abe tension mat le .. Rum hee pee raha hoon. Kangaal nahi ho jayega tu!
R – Ok then, for kanjoos read cheap!
C – Btw, congrats for your well deserved Sena Medal. Cheers to you!
R – Thanks bhai.
(Both clink their glasses and take a sip)
R – But seriously .. good to see you here out of the blue .. aaj bade din baad peene ka maza aa raha hai
C – Cheers to that too!
R (Suddenly sombre mood after a couple of sips) – You heard about Ribhu Saxena?
C (Equally serious, nostalgic) – Haan suna. Almost right after commissioning. Pyara banda tha. And it had to be him that was the first of our course to go. Still remember the fun we had during the mid term hike to Jim Corbett National Park in our last term in the IMA. What days..
R (Laughing) – You know how I met him last?
C – Nope
R – Was posted in Delhi initially. Headed to Priya Complex one evening and I suddenly saw him standing by the road. That bugger was waiting for his girlfriend for a date. Uski kismat, GF se pehle main bhid gaya (laughs). Needless to say, I hijacked him and made him take me to a bar nearby. Aakhri din tak gaaliyan deta raha mere ko. Break-up ho gaya uska meri wajah se!
(Both let out a hearty laugh)
R (Back in serious mode after a sip) – Now there’s a road named after him near Priya Complex – Shaheed Lieutenant Ribhu Saxena Marg.
C – Such a sweet guy. Never deserved this.
R – None of them did. Vishal, Suresh, Sajjan, Triveni, Amit Sharma, Amit Singh .. None of them
C (Shocked) – AMIT SHARMA TOO??
R – You didn’t know?
C – I had no clue .. Amit Sharma? Seriously? How?
R – He was the co-pilot of the Cheetah that crashed in Siachen last month. A freak tailwind while landing. Had no chance at all.
C – Bloody hell. Had attended his wedding earlier last year in Feb. Just happened to be on leave and was able to make it. Never knew that would be the last time we’ll meet.
C (Now in a serious mood) – You know .. you too should be a bit careful. Jaag ja mein kehta hoon. I know how you got your Sena Medal. After you had killed 5, you still chose to run after a fleeing terrorist? You know what a close call it was, don’t you?
R (Laughing) – Hahaha .. it was that terrorist’s day to die that day, not mine!
C – Bugger, this is not a laughing matter. That was a foolhardy thing to do. I’m not doubting your guts or josh, but aaj nahi toh kal us saale ko maar hee dete hum. Kab tak bhaagta woh saala? Think of your parents. Think of Riya atleast
(Waiter refills their glasses)
R (Laughing even loudly) – Aur Capt C ka moral lecture phir se chaalu! Saala Academy ka yeh keeda tera gaya nahi abhi tak! Remember, how juniors used to dread reporting to you for punishments? (laughs) Bolte the ‘Sir hockey stick se pitai kar lo, par ye lecture bandh karo’!
C (Embarrassed laughter) – Grow up fucker! Aaj bhi Academy ke first termer ki tarah hee hai tu. Trying to be smart, ending up being a smart ass! (laughs as he continues talking). Remember Sergeant Sumit? How he ‘bajaod’ the entire course during NDA days just because YOU were missing from a report? And where were you?
R (Butts in, cutting off C) – Hiding inside my cupboard, sleeping (Laughs out loud). Lekin tere ko toh pata tha na? Kyon nahi bataya usko? Bach jaate na?
C – Saale, you know I would never rat out on you, or for that matter, any of my buddies! Woh alag baat hai ki I still have scars on my back from the punishment we were put through!
R (Laughing mischievously) – I know. Isi chakkar mein kitni neend kheenchi hai maine NDA ke time, tere naam ke cheque phaad ke!
C – Now you know why you pay for my drinks whenever we meet!
(Waiter refills their drinks)
C – Let this be for the ones that have gone down so far ..
R (Sombre) – And to those who are bound to fall in this ‘war’ in coming years too ..
C – Begins to say something .. Let’s it go .. Doesn’t say
R notices that
R – Kya bol raha tha, bol de
C (Deadly serious) – The way Sajjan went – sad, but not surprising. Uss ghode ki lagam agar ek second bhi dheeli chhodte to saala kya kar dega pata nahi chalta .. Bloody joker. Lived bindass, devil may care attitude. Died with the same attitude too. God bless that fucker
Once again C starts to say something but stops
R – Bol de BH**ch**d kya bolna hai!
C – Achha toh sunn. Now I see similar tendencies in you too. We may not have met for a long time, lekin khabar milti rehti hai. Do it as a favour to me, but hold your horses once in a while.
R (Laughing) – O Babaji, bakhsh do mere ko! (Takes a sip. Gets a bit serious) Situation cannot be restored by us sitting down on our bums, twiddling our thumbs & letting the terrorists have a free run of OUR Valley.
C – I know brother, and you also know I’m not asking you to be a coward. Far from it, in fact. All I am saying is try not to be a dead hero ..
(Waiter refills their drinks)
R (Sombre) – But you know people WILL die .. such is the nature of our profession ..
C (Equally serious) – Yes I know that. But that doesn’t mean throwing away your life on the cheap. If and when it happens – MAKE IT COUNT. You owe it to yourself.
R (Breaks the mood, laughing) – Btw, talking about Sajjan .. remember how he busted his b@lls jumping from the 10m board in the Academy swimming pool TEN TIMES IN A ROW!
C (Glass in hand, taking a sip, almost spits it out laughing) – Saala, nothing surprising about him. Finally managed to keep his legs together in his 10th jump, managing to pass the test!
C (Glass still in hand) – Saala bahut pee liya aaj. You know I don’t drink, except with you and a few others. Aaj ka bass ho gaya re.
R – Abe seedhe seedhe bol na tere ko itne hee log hain jo free ki daru pilaate hain!
C (Laughing) – Chal ek kaam karte hain. The day we become COs, let us meet here again. Drinks will be on me, just try and stay alive till then! You know I don’t drink alone!
R (Mockingly) – Sir, Yes Sir!
C puts his glass down on the table.
Camera slowly zooms in on the glass as he puts it down. Now the camera is solely focussing on the glass. Two ice cubes float in the glass
(In the background, now you can hear the static of wireless sets and a conversation happening in very stressful conditions. Two characters – Capt C and his CO)
CO – C, give me a report
C (Shouting) (Firing and explosions in background) – Sir, we are just 50m from the objective. Heavy fire has pinned us down. Need arty support to keep enemy’s head down.
CO – Roger
C (Along with a few other voices) – JAI MAHAKAALI AAYO GORKHALI!!
(More gunfire and explosions. People shouting. Gradually the noise subsides)
C – Sir, we have reached the top of Pt 4812. The objective is ours!
CO – Great Job, C! What about casualties?
C – Sir 12 casualties out of 20. 7 fatal, 5 injured, two of them seriously.
CO – Damn. What about you?
C – Sir, a minor gunshot wound on left shoulder. Don’t worry, I am good. We are consolidating on the objective now, just in case the enemy launches a counter attack.
CO – Yes, he WILL. Be prepared
(Sounds of explosions and gunfire)
CO – C .. REPORT
C (Shouting) (large amount of gunfire in background) – SIR WE ARE UNDER HEAVY ATTACK. WILL REPORT BACK IN A WHILE. GET ME ARTY FIRE AT GRID REFERENCE 887453
CO – That is not very far from your own location .. keep your head down. Wait Out.
(More gunfire .. Followed by large number of explosions, then silence)
C (heavy breathing, speaking with difficulty) – That was a close one, Sir. We’ve beaten them back. Down to four men now, two somewhat seriously injured, including myself.
CO – C, UAV shows enemy building up for another counter attack. 50+ enemy soldiers 15 minutes away from you and closing in. Withdraw from the objective NOW.
C – NO WAY SIR. My men have not shed so much blood here just to withdraw from THEIR OWN land and let it be trampled under enemy’s boots.
CO – That is an order. Just four of you cannot hold on ..
C – Sorry Sir. Won’t withdraw. CANNOT withdraw even if I wanted to. I won’t leave behind my dead. Even my wounded cannot possibly walk back on their own. How long before we can expect reinforcements?
CO – Not for next 4 hours.
C (Gunshots and explosions) – No worries Sir. Let me do my own bit for my motherland. (Gunshots come closer). Enemy is closing in, let us deal with him. (Serious tone now) Jab tak hum log hain, dushman is zameen par pair nahi rakhega.
(More gunshots and explosions, increasing in intensity)
C (Speaking with some difficulty, breathing heavily) – Sir .. arty support. Coordinates 892454
CO – C, That is your own damn location .. re-confirm your coordinates
C – I know Sir. We are as good as dead. Let us take some enemy with us too. Hurry up Sir
CO – God Bless you Son ..
(Explosions .. then silence)
After a gap, a third voice on wireless. Let us call him X
X – Sir, we’ve reached Pt 4812 top. It’s a bloodbath over here Sir .. I see atleast 38 dead enemy soldiers. All our boys are martyred too. Capt C’s body has been blown apart. Looks like he himself was manning the light machine gun. Enemy bodies are littered next to him
CO – (Sigh) Roger. Consolidate on the objective. I’m sending additional boys to get down the mortal remains of our guys.
As this wireless conversation goes on, the ice cubes in C’s drink keep melting. By the time the conversation ends, ice cubes are completely melted
Camera now zooms out of C’s drink to bring his chair back in frame along with his glass. The chair is empty.
Camera pans across the bar to R.
R has now aged. Wearing a Colonel’s rank with a uniform full of ribbons – Shaurya Chakra, Sena Medal, Samanya Seva Medal, Op Rakshak, Op Hifazat, 50 years medal, Nine Years Service Medal, Videsh Seva Medal, United Nations (UNIFIL) Medal ,Op Vijay Medal and a COAS commendation card. Uniform is the current Indian Army pattern camouflage uniform.
R (wiping a tear / eyes brimming with tears) – You Bastard .. You and your Maha Vir Chakra .. And you said I (emphasis on ‘I’) was the mad one .. (moves on to pick up C’s drink) .. this is the drink that gets me drunk tonight. And this is on you. You better pay me back when we meet on the other side ..