MADRAS: CHAPTER EIGHT
It’s been two years here and I still can’t believe I have been away from you all. How is Janani? I received your letter and was glad to know things are taken care of for now. I am under the charge of a most obnoxious person here called Sharpe. He seems to be holding some bitter grudge against me. He behaved very kindly at first and spoke warmly of father but since then, has been wholly engaged in insulting and punishing me. He has claimed the foulest blames against father, damn him. I cannot truly say that I am fine here but do know, that I shall strive with all I have to be worthy of bearing father’s name. Give my affection to Janani. And do not write too often, I know it costs a lot for mailing. I shall be home for Christmas, which is December in two months. Please treat Janani with understanding and don’t let her be too burdened by everything. I cannot write anymore for fear of breaking down. At times, the urge to board the Madras train and come and see you is so strong but I fight it away with grave effort. How I miss home and everyone. I am ashamed to say I am not as strong as I thought I could be or father would have wanted me to be. This shall suffice for now until further can be said when I can see you all on December. God bless and keep you mother.
Within those two years, Chandru had shaken off his false bravado and ego and matured into a man well beyond his years. He had borne hardships with such resolve and grim persistence. He had learnt to master his emotions. He had become whom he’d always aspired to be but strangely enough, the majority of this changes had come beside and to a great extent, due to the Major and his harsh ways. He was naturally a stern man but he seemed to be very much so towards Chandru but he had always retained a kind of a respect towards Chandru and had helped him and taken care of him in ways Chandru himself was not aware of.
He nursed the brandy glass, swirling it thoughtfully and gazing into the glowing embers in the fire. He let out a sigh and took up his pen and ink and sat down heavily at the desk. He rung the bell.
“Fetch Officer ChandraKumar”
The man bowed and left.
The Colonel breathed in and sank into the cushion of the chair, closing his eyes.
A knock sounded.
A tall young man, able bodied, firm lipped with steady eyes and stately manners swept noiselessly in and stood before the desk of the Major. His shoulders were assured and broad, his chin had such resolve. There was dignity in his stance which was much alike the Major’s himself.
“Sit down” said the Major.
“No thank you, sir” said the other, suavely.
The Major looked up. And a corner of his mouth broke into a sad smile.
“All right then, Officer, I have called you down here for I wanted to have a talk with you”
“Pray, proceed” replied Chandru.
The Major breathed in heavily and roused himself to sit upright. He planted his arms and started to stand, talked as he did so, “I am afraid I have bad news for you, Officer”.
“Oh” said Chandru.
The Major slipped slightly and Chandru ventured to walk forward and help him stand.
“As you know, cadets who have completed their initial training are going home this December, you however, cannot.”
Chandru remained silent.
“I have chosen you and four other officers for the Delhi camp this year”.
The Major looked thoughtfully at Chandru before saying, “Where your father passed away”.
Chandru gave a grim nod.
“What do you say, then, Mr. ChandraKumar”.
Chandru’s heart sank inside as he replied slowly, “ Yes Sir”.