Our unit, 5Madras Bn was deployed in Jammu and Kashmir for counter-insurgency operations. It was at the beginning of March 2011, that I approached Col Harinder Singh Sidhu, the CO, regarding my problem. My father, aged 55 years, has been suffering from acute backache, so much so, that, he found it difficult to walk and was bed-ridden. My wife in Chennai took him to MH Chennai; but, for want of a neurosurgeon, could not be operated upon. When approached, my CO, a quintessential officer embodying compassion, spoke to Col Srinivas, a Veteran at Bengaluru, actively involved in the welfare of ex-servicemen, if he could do something to ameliorate the sufferings of my father.
Col Srinivas picked us up from the railway station and took us to the hospital, where my father was admitted after examination by Wg Cdr Dr Datta, the neurosurgeon.
In the meantime, my CO was kind to have me posted on compassionate grounds, to Embarkation HQ, Chennai, as my family was stationed there. I arrived at Bengaluru on March 25, and met Col Srinivas; who then immediately took me to Air Cmde Nanda, the registrar, Comd Hosp Air Force Bangalore (CHAFB). Air Cmde Nanda having heard me, asked me to get my father immediately to the city; and, requested Wg Cdr Dr Datta, the neurosurgeon to take up my case. My father and I arrived at Bengaluru on the morning of Monday, March 28, 2011.
My father gets a breather
Col Srinivas picked us up from the railway station and took us to the hospital, where my father was admitted after examination by Wg Cdr Dr Datta, the neurosurgeon. On April 15, surgery of the spine below the neck was carried out by neurosurgeons Group Capt Dr Sridhar and Wg Cdr Dr Datta. After the surgery, my father was initially kept in the ICU for a couple of days; and then, shifted to the general ward.
Thanks to the registrar, who made available accommodation to me, I was able to stay next to CHAFB and take care of my father. The Col and his wife visited him too. On hearing from me that my father was being discharged the next day and that I propose to take him by bus from the city to Tiruvannamalai, then to Gingee; and from there to my village, 17 km from Gingee; Col Srinivas said a firm “No”. Seeing the condition of my father who was bed-ridden Col Srinivas said, “Undertaking a journey by bus from Bengaluru to the village would result in undoing the surgery.”
Gestures that touch
He asked me to collect his car for the journey. On April 25, when I went to Col Srinivas’ residence to collect the van, Col Srinivas said that he himself would drive my father to our village, as I was not conversant with the route. My father was discharged and thereafter, we left for Krishnagiri, 100 km away. We reached at 7 pm battling a hard downpour.
We had to stay put for the night at Tamil Nadu Hotel. Having come to know that the road Krishnagiri to Tiruvannamalai was in a bad state, Col Srinivas decided to take the longer route via Vellore. The next morning, Tuesday, on April 26, we hit the road at 5.30 am; and driving via Vellore-Arcot-Gingee, we reached our village, in the interior at 1.30 pm. We were received by all our friends and relatives and there was jubilation on the arrival of my father. We had lunch; and having rested for a while and having refreshed ourselves, Col Srinivas and I left for Bengaluru.
After having spent the night at Col Srinivas’ residence, I returned to my village. I am deeply indebted to all the officers — Col HS Sidhu, Air Cmde Nanda, the registrar CHAFB, Gp Capt Dr Sridhar and Wg Cdr Dr Datta, the neurosurgeons, Gp Capt Dr Lalla, the senior anaesthetist and to Col Srinivas — for all their help, assistance and support extended to me, an Infantry soldier of the Indian Army, in discharging my filial obligation to my father.