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Eighteen kilos of sand weigh a ton when you have to do push-ups with it to some sadistic instructor's tune. It crushes you. It rapes your back into an ungainly curve. It makes your shoulder muscles creak. But hell, what does it all matter to him, that guy there in the front with the captain's ribbons?
"Come on, you bloody idiots," he was screaming again, "When I say 'up' you better get your bottoms up fast...Up!"
Shit, the guy was inhuman. He wanted more. And all because you were a few minutes late for fall-in. Didn't he know you have been up since 5.30 in the morning -- that was 14 bloody hours ago -- going through all kinds of training which this buggery course (what else was it but that?) involved? He did for sure. After all, he had gone through it himself, hadn't he?
"Hey, you there, little fellow," that shout again, "Get up... come here."
The little fellow got to his feet and moved towards the instructor. He was going to be chewed up raw while his colleagues held their painful position. That was how the game went.
"Can't do?" the instructor, this thin man of a captain with his thin moustache, this baby-face who was reputed to be the biggest bugger among them all -- he wanted to know.
"Can't do it?" he repeated as the commando stood at attention and stared straight into infinity, "You like your bed? You like your food? No? Well, neither do I. Want to go back? Want to go back home? No? Then get down here and do it. Commandos, you will do more push-ups in this bloody idiot's honour... Down."
Sadist. He must have got it bad when he did the course. Must be getting his own back now.
"Hey, you bloody loiterers," the instructor's rage had turned to another bunch of latecomers, "What's the time? What's the time? Don't know? Can't tell? Get down with these idiots. Now!"
The man is a sadist. No doubt. Look at the way he is standing there with his head thrown back and all... you would think he owned the whole world.
"Up," that bugging order again, "Down!"
God, was he ever going to stop? This was just too much after a full day of -- what all did they do today? -- rock climbing, unarmed combat, slithering... or was that all yesterday? That was another thing about the place. Your days all got jumbled together, hardly punctuated by those three hours of sleep you were allowed...
...Up. Down. Up...
...you didn't even know what day today was. Or what you did yesterday unless you thought real hard. But who had the time to think? Here all you did was do. Thinking was a luxury which the training didn't offer...
Up. Down. Up...
The paplu -- yeah, that's what they called the backpack -- was growing heavier by the moment. Will he ever stop? And to think you had nearly two hours of night battle obstacle training after this...
"Get up all of you!"
Finally. If only the stupid gear would stop weighing so much. And the damned battle dress not cling on so wet.
"Don't bloody walk like idiots. You are not dead," that cursed shout again, "Fall in. Pair up in threes. Fast!"
That gave you a breather. Of about three or four minutes. You had to pick up your rifle, find your buddies and stand at attention waiting for the next round of torture.
"Posted 52, on parade 50, one RTU, one MH, ready for parade, sir," the group leader was reporting the parade strength: of the 52 posted with him, one had been returned to unit (RTU-ed, they called it) while another was in the military hospital.
"How many can't run?" the instructor asked.
Seven hands went up. The captain would want to know why. And he was going to take some convincing.
"You," he asked moving down the line, "What's wrong? Don't pretend. You can run... You? What? Show me. You think you are being clever? Don't even try it. Next... what's your trouble? Knee? Why are you holding your elbow then? You know what? You have your knee in your elbow and your elbow in your head. Bloody idiot... Okay, two are casualties. The rest of you, are you ready to run? What? I can't hear anything."
"You all know you will be left behind as battle casualties if you don't return by 2200 hours?" he asked, "Okay, chotta kadam, daudke chal (run in small steps)."
Another session of agony had begun.
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