The Buddy : Chapter III

The sun was warm and the sky such a deeply luminous blue that it hurt her eyes. The snows had taken leave for the day and lay slumbering atop the mountains like sunbathing polar bears. Pink-white almond blossoms preened against the sun, a few bumble-bees coaxed out of hibernation buzzed around them and  languor filled Priti. It was Sunday and though life out here was not much different on a Sunday from any other day of the week, Priti was enjoying the holiday sitting under the almond tree, back warming in the morning sun. But an itch nagged the pit of her stomach. It was the 'buddy' itch. However much she hated to let her mind dwell on these tiring issues on such a lovely day, she had no choice-she had made a promise to herself and now she could see the ‘problem’ lumbering up the slope to her barracks.
‘Ram Ram Saab’. Bhati’s stance reeked of being under deep duress.
‘Why does he insist on calling me ‘Saab’? Do I look masculine? What’s the difficulty in uttering ‘Madam’?’ Priti…


This little thing is a guest on my porch this night. This night is cold: biting, bone chilling, soul numbing....
A torn cardboard box, a second hand wool sweater from the streets of Janpath, an old single bedsheet, a bright red discarded pillow.... and he is happy-one ear up and one ear down, snout nuzzling between pillow and cardboard wall........You see: he is rich today- tummy full, a warm soft bed, two excited little girls and an jaded middle aged woman keeping vigil over him... yes, he is rich and happy today! Today, he has a name too, 'bliss', an apt name for his current state of mind...
I peer into his eyes...he must be five or six months old but his eyes are old, shines with patience and understanding.....understanding of the foibles of these two legged creatures on whose mercy his fate lies...
But he bears us no ill will,  not a bit, despite that demented car that fractured his leg, that surgeon's scalpel that finally severed the dangling useless broken leg from …

The Buddy : Chapter II


The little room was low-roofed with just enough space for the wobbly bed and the single bare armchair. The soldier who had shown her to the room had left and Priti was now all alone. She pulled the threadbare curtain to one side and peered out of the only window in the room. A still cold darkness met her gaze. It made her feel kind of lost and friendless, so she pulled the curtains right back and retreated into the relative warmth of the yellow-bulb lit room.
‘I think I’d better unpack.’ she told herself. The activity would take her mind off the emptiness all around and off that pin-drop silence. Silences like this always got to her; so she was thankful for the grating sound her small iron trunk made as she dragged it to the centre of the room. It was light, being nearly empty: her two sets of uniform, one pair of slacks, three T shirts and the single salwar kameez (Coca-Cola coloured whose dupatta she had forgotten to bring) lost within the its far depths. She extricated the …

The Buddy Chapter I

Introduction The Indian Army Medical Corps is two hundred and fifty-four years old and has had women within its folds both as doctors and nurses since the time women have been allowed to become doctors and nurses. However, these women were mostly posted to peace areas till as recent as the late eighties and mid-nineties. My story ‘The Buddy’ is set in the Kashmir of the mid-nineties, when a woman as the resident doctor of an Infantry Regiment deployed on active service against Kashmiri militants was an unheard-of occurrence.
The olive-green field telephone on his side desk trilled. Sijith picked it up and pressed the speak-lever.
A tinny voice spoke at the other end, “Ram Ram Saab. Naya Doctor saab aa gayen hai.”
“Ok. Office mein bhej do.”
“Ok. Ram Ram Saab.”
So, the new doctor had arrived. That was good. Functioning without a doctor in these insurgent infested locales made his soldiers a little edgy. The doctor was their insurance policy, their armour against death…