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A military band was playing at the fort grounds in Mumbai; young soldiers belonging to the Rajput Regiment were engaged in a drill. Just as the wind blows the clouds into new patterns, the soldiers were organizing themselves into new formations under the instructions of the officer.

At the conclusion of the drill, a lanky youth walked up to the officer.

"What is your name?" the officer asked.

"Jagatsingh," the youth replied after smartly saluting the officer.

"What do you want?"

"I want to join the Army."

"You are not afraid of death, are you?"

"Certainly not. I am a Rajput."

"You will have to work very hard."

"I am not scared of hard work."

"You will be required to go to Aden."

"I will go willingly."

The captain was satisfied with the youth's ready replies, sincerity and boldness. He immediately enlisted the youth.

The regiment sailed for Aden on the third day. As the ship drew further and further away from shore, Jagat felt as though he was leaving his heart behind. He stood on the deck, and gazed longingly at the disappearing land. He let out a deep sigh when land was no longer visible, and covering his face with his hands sobbed unashamedly. For the first time in his life, he recalled the faces of his loved ones; he recalled his little hamlet, the marijuana peddler, the excursions, and his friends. Who knows whether he would ever meet them again! The troubled thoughts agitated him to such an extent that he wanted to jump into the sea.

Three months elapsed since the regiment landed in Aden. The novelty of the new routine kept Jagatsingh happily occupied; but, gradually, he developed an yearning for his home. He longed for his mother who protected him from his father's wrath, his sisters' taunts, and from the scorn of his relatives. He remembered the days of his illness; he had narrowly escaped death then. But neither his father had shown any concern nor his sisters. It was mother who sat by his side through the nights, talking to him, and easing his sufferings with her affection. He had often seen her crying; she had become careworn, but was oblivious to her own sufferings. Will he ever see his mother again? His anguished thoughts would lead Jagatsingh to the shores where he watched the flowing waters for hours together.

For quite some time, Jagat had been thinking of writing home; but shame and guilt prevented him from putting pen to paper. One day, however, the urge was so great that he finally sat down to write. He poured his heart out in the letter and sought forgiveness for his misdeeds. "I have caused you much trouble and I truly regret it," he wrote to his mother. "I promise to do something in life which will make you proud. You will not feel ashamed to call me your son then. Please bless me so that I can fulfill my promise."

He dropped the letter in the mailbox and from that day itself began a wait for a reply. But a month passed and there was no reply. Jagatsingh was concerned; why was there no reply? Was mother ill? Perhaps, father had not written because his anger had not yet subsided. Was everything alright at home?

A few soldiers had installed an idol beneath a tree, and worshipped it daily. Jagatsingh used to scoff at the soldiers for their faith, but, now, he sat before the idol with his head bowed in reverence. He was thus praying silently when an orderly came up, and called out his name. The orderly had a letter for him. Jagatsingh took the letter; he was quivering in excitement. Fervently thanking god, he opened the letter. "Your father has been sentenced to five years imprisonment on charges of embezzlement; your mother has been unable to bear the grief, and is seriously ill. Come home immediately if you can get leave," the letter read.

Jagatsingh straight away approached the captain. "Sir, my mother is seriously ill, please allow me to go on leave."

The captain looked at him sternly and said, "You cannot be sanctioned leave now."

"Then, discharge me."

"You cannot be discharged now."

"But I cannot remain here for a moment."

"You have to remain; the war has broken out, and we have to leave on a campaign."

"When do we leave?"

"Within two to four days."

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Some useful links for
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  • Union Public Service Commission - www.upsc.gov.in
  • IIT-Kharagpur - www.iitkgp.ac.in
  • Indian Statistical Institute - www.isical.ac.in
  • Indian Institute of Technology Madras - www.iitm.ac.in
  • Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad - www.iimahd.ernet.in
  • Indian Institute of Mass Commission - www.iimc.nic.in
  • IIT Bombay - www.iitb.ac.in
  • Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad - www.ismdhanbad.ac.in
  • Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi - www.bitmesra.ac.in
  • Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training - www.cifnet.nic.in
  • Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (Deemed University) - www.iiita.ac.in
  • Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Kochi - www.cmfri.com
  • Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai - www.tiss.edu