‘The boy stood on the burning deck whence all but he had fled’
The flame that lit the battle’s wreck, Shone round him o’er the dead
These lines ringed in my ears many years ago in the English class of the school where this lovely poem ’Casabianca’ written by Felecia Dorothea Hemans was being taught. I remember how I got the goose bumps as meaning of the lines was being explained. Many years later I too stood on the deck of a warship and was oft reminded of the supreme sacrifices of the men like Casabianca and many a war heroes stood for!
I am not sure whether such poems are taught anymore in schools which have air conditioned class rooms and children play more games on their mobile phones or play stations than on the playfields.
The pride of working with fellow men on board man- of- war is difficult to express. There would be times when the sailing would go on for days at sea with no land in sight. The muffled noise of the engines a wake left behind by the propellers of the ship and thundering aircrafts taking off from the ship’s flight deck were companions. A star studded sky was lit up with flares of rockets when the ship exercised on the vast blue expanse. During wee hours I would exercise on the quarter deck or take a walk on the flight deck when there was no action taking place! It was a world different from what I see now. People would only talk about work, families, and girlfriends and not about corruption, scam or scandals, as most of the news was inaccessible. A very simple and straight forward life!
The news of the tragedy of sinking of a Kilo - class diesel electric submarine ‘INS Sindhurakshak ‘ in the premises of Naval dockyard in Mumbai was heart breaking! The tragedy is enormous in terms of the loss of human lives and losing a front line vessel in peacetime. Life is never easy on board these vessels which sail for prolonged periods and there is just about leg room for crew to curl up on a small bunker in the space left after loading all machinery, weapon and sensors and navigation systems on this modern day mechanical shark, capable of sniping at the foes. They are capable of hitting not only the lurking vessels but also the installations on land from the complex missile launchers even when submerged under water. I remember how I would take around enthusiastic visitors to show around the air craft carrier where I was serving and these submarines where my counter parts served, on holidays. The reasons for the disaster would be investigated and lessons learnt would hopefully prevent such incidents in future.
Doing one’s duty without expecting favor has gone out of fashion as the tribe of the greedy, uncouth and corrupt continues to grow. If we delve into the history the number of men or women who withstood against the wrong are few compared to those who readily bent themselves to suit the convenience of others and dereliction of their duties. Recently, one of the eminent bureaucrat stated that ‘if all the people that serve in the government perform their duties, we would never read about the cases of widespread corruption and tragedies that occur all around us due negligence of duties’. This can only happen if the vows taken by those who serve in high places work to stick to them and the system supports them.
PS: I thank all my readers whole hearted for their support as this blog completes two years of its existence
2. Image Kind Courtesy Google