When I returned to my regiment, the Seventh Light Cavalry, I read the circular inviting young captains as volunteers for posting as ADCs to the Punjab Governor in January ’82. I had just completed the Instructor Gunnery course and during a coffee break I mentioned this option to our CO Lt Col Kamaljit Singh. He told me that this was no option for career soldiers and I should look forward to a posting as a gunnery instructor. Since it was coming from a career soldier, the option seemed a shut call to me.
While on casual leave to see my mother at Chandigarh, I had called on the Governor, the late Nawab of Loharu, Shri Aminuddin, a revered former officer of our Regiment. That I was truly the grandson of Hony Lt Harbhaj Singh had warmed the very affectionate grand old man. He recalled that he had joined the Regiment way back in 1930 when my grandfather was the Risaldar Major, who trained him for polo and tent pegging under strict guidance. It was during then that the question on whether I qualified for the ADCs position or not popped. I told him that it did but was not a good option for a career soldier. Taken aback, he had asked me “Who told you that?” I quickly thought that it would be suicidal to take the CO’s name so I passed it off — “I thought so”. He retorted “the problem with you youngsters is that you think too much. Now get back to your regiment. I am sending a letter to the chief to post you here as my ADCs.” I was elated to join the Governor as his ADCs. My mother did not know what career soldiers should be looking for… But seeing my joy, she was assured.
After that I returned back to the regiment at Babina, where my mood was quite pensive. The CO had even commiserated at a cocktail party, “Don’t worry your posting as instructor gunnery is coming shortly.” There was great turbulence within, not knowing who should I talk to, the CO or the Governor? My mother would pester through letters. (Thankfully, there were no cell phones those days). After being in a quandary for a week, I gained courage to speak to the CO, just to tell him of my predicament. Quite sure of what he would say, I still went towards the Adjutant’s office with purposeful steps. To my surprise, I found my roommate Capt Raman present there.
He was to officiate for a week, which was relieving. Late in the evening at the mess the head clerk brought some urgent dak. He walked with heavy steps, I went out to the porch to meet him. He had a beaming smile on his face and not the usual smirk. He said “Mubarak ho sahib aapki posting ADC to Governor aa gai hai.” In a short while the news was all over the mess and was being discussed over a round of drinks that followed. Thoughts of being a career soldier were thrown to the winds. Raman joined in late and asked me when I would like to leave. I asked him when is the CO coming. He said that he would visit for a short while the next day. On hearing that I said “I will leave tonight. Please sign my movement straight away.” He asked me what the matter was, I told him it was a long story and that I wouldn’t become a general.
Fortunately,the Punjab mail was running late and in one hour, with two steel trunks and a holdall, all my precious belongings, I forced my way into the train without any reservation. The Kalka mail brought me to Chandigarh at a chilly 5 am. I was told a car would pick me up shortly and after 45 minutes a car with Raj Bhawan emblem drove up. The smartly turned out driver had a look at my belongings and unequivocally intoned that that cars with Raj Bhawan emblems were not supposed to carry shabby steel trunks atop. An accommodative three wheeler eventually came to my rescue.
I had arrived at the Raj Bhawan as Aide-de-Camp to His excellency the Governor of Punjab. I served there for the next four years with eight Governors.
An ex-Cavalry Major, the author was a member of the Haryana Legislature.