‘Why are you late’ growled Major Verma, looking directly at us with a stern face and eyes glowing, as his bushy mustaches quivered. It sent a chill down my spine! I had not been admonished like this ever since I was in class fifth. I felt weak in legs and wished that the earth under my feet sinks so that I disappear from his towering sight for a reprieve!
Only four days earlier we had landed in
, all four of us! We were the adventurous ones who opted to go to Allahabad Allahabad to undergo our summer training at ‘The GEC of India Ltd” at Naini, a small hamlet, about 20 km away from .. We stayed at the railway retiring room for first two days as finding accommodation in a Allahabad without knowing anyone was not an easy task. The dame luck smiled and on third day, when we had given up hope, our old class friend, Rajesh Maheshwari appeared like a messiah from nowhere. He introduced us to his uncle, who had a two storey house in the Nehru Nagar area in old city. It was a new construction and we four moved in the ground floor which had two rooms big enough for us. He even arranged cots for us! We celebrated in the evening at the India Coffee House located in the Civil Lines. new city
Next day we started our training and landed at the factory about ten minutes late and after brief introductions were shown around the sprawling factory!
Major Verma had retired from the Indian Army as his medical category was lowered after gunshot injuries on his right leg and he limped, as a result. He was six feet tall and strong built with a receding hairline and bushy mustaches. His eyes glowed like shoals! He was The Chief Security Officer, and on the very first day itself he sent a strong message of punctuality to us.
Back in school I had been caned for coming late by our principal once, who was a tough disciplinarian and was a product of
, Dehradun. That was the last time I had been awarded capital punishment! Doon School
‘Sir, we did not get the train in time ‘I replied meekly.
“ I don’t care, if you did not get the train, run from Allahabad, take a taxi, or come by helicopter , for all I care’ He thundered and continued’ From tomorrow, you will come in time or else sent back’ he said and waved his hand and dismissed us.
Just to reach that factory we had to take a 3 km walk each day to Allahabad Railway station and board ‘ COD Express’ leaving at 0715 hrs , which would take 30 minutes and after alighting at Naini, we would hire an , Ikka ( a horse drawn carriage ) to reach the factory gate. The process would be repeated on the return journey in the evening.
In next four months of our stay, we never got late!!