Mariah Carey said, “It’s a long road when you face the world alone when no one reaches out a hand for you to hold.” For this man, it has somewhat been like this.
How many times has your trust been broken and you’ve found it not only difficult to trust someone else but also to go on with your life with the same ease that you felt before? Doesn’t being hurt or lied to feel like a blow to your confidence? This guy’s life story will give you the courage to keep moving ahead no matter what.
Finding, difficulty in making friends due to some experiences in the past and a stammering issue, Aakash has been beating all odds to chase his dreams and beat the blues.
Aakash Kumar, who is a civil engineer by qualification is now on a completely different path. He never saw anything or any work as of less status. He is currently undergoing training for Assam Rifles in Officer’s Training Academy in Nagaland, devoting his life to the country he is proud of.
Assam Rifles is the oldest paramilitary force in India which was formed in 1835. Having undergone a name change multiple times, Assam Rifles got its current name in 1917. As per the Ministry of Home Affairs’ 2016-2017 annual report, there are 46 battalions of Assam Rifles with a sanctioned strength of 63,747 personnel.
Here are the excerpts from an interview with Cocktail Zindagi that will show how the journey of his life has been like.
Cocktail Zindagi: Tell us something about yourself.
Aakash: I am a 21-year-old engineer turned defence personnel in Assam Rifles infantry unit from Kohima, Nagaland. That’s what defines me now.
Cocktail Zindagi: Tell us one experience from your past that you cannot forget and is making it difficult for you to adapt.
Aakash: Once in my school when I was in standard six, a girl named ‘Seba’ and I were made to sit together as I was the only one sitting alone and all others had chosen their partners when she came to the class for the first time. I was in love with her – the schoolboy love. I had a stammering problem those days. She liked to listen to stories from me from ‘Champak, Panchatantra’, similar to comic books. And I thought that she understood me. But I was wrong.
Later, I realized that she didn’t like me but liked only to laugh on the way I narrated the stories because I stammered. Once, during recess, I saw her making fun of me amongst her friends by imitating my speech style, ‘Cha…Cha…Champak’ they said behind my back. That made me realise that I’m a stammer! I can’t say how hard hit me. And a broken heart! This led me down to the path of an emotional breakdown.
Cocktail Zindagi: Does that stop you from making friends?
Aakash: Not now but it used to. I realized at a later point in time, that just like the fear of death, can’t stop you from breathing, the fear of being hurt can’t stop you from making friends. To lose a friend should not resist you from making friends so, now I’m a social person and have a few friends.
Cocktail Zindagi: As it is said ‘no pain, no gain’, tell us about your career struggles?
Aakash: I failed in 12th due to the decision of taking both Biology and Maths. During the gap of one year, my parents advised quitting studying and look out to open a shop. Even they agreed to take one for rent! I went on to study and began preparation for a diploma entrance. Next year, I cleared 12th but failed in entrance this time. Now, my parents admitted me to an engineering college in Assam. No destination in mind, I agreed and opted for the civil branch. I was very lost.
Cocktail Zindagi: Engineers are both smart and cool. But you decided to be a soldier. How did all that happen?
Aakash: I was in my 3rd year B.Tech. Once, a defence seminar was held at my college. There they showed about the life of soldiers which normal people can’t see. ‘Live for nothing, but die for something’. That inspired me to take up this career path and it now feels right.
Cocktail Zindagi: How did you prepare for ADS(Assam Defense Service) entrance?
Aakash: Unlike diploma, where I simply fired shots without knowing the target, here I went through the online course, at ‘www.crackssb.com’, which provided all the relevant materials. It was New Delhi SSB, I went through.
Cocktail Zindagi: How is your life in the Officer’s Training Academy of Assam Rifles?
Aakash: It is tough for me to adapt here due to my past experiences with the friends circle mostly I’m alone. But slowly things have started to settle down.
Cocktail Zindagi: How is your everyday routine like?
Aakash: In the morning at 4 a.m. sharp, a siren rings to wake us all up. Within half-an-hour, all cadets are supposed to assemble in the parade ground for physical training. For one hour, we perform different physical exercises like sit-ups, pushups, crunches, balancing and stretching. But all this starts with a warm-up, merely more than a warm-up, a non-stop five-kilometre run across the campus.
Cocktail Zindagi: Is the atmosphere very strict over there?
Aakash: No, I personally feel it is disciplined rather. If you get late by one minute of the reporting time, then it is an unpardonable offence but being punctual at last is a good habit.
Cocktail Zindagi: How are your training and studies at the Academy?
Aakash: We study about different weapons including rifles, machine guns, missile and mortar. Practically to operate, mantle and dismantle, tests are conducted for the same on a regular basis.
Cocktail Zindagi: How is the classroom course?
Aakash: Pretty similar to mechanical, architecture of weapons and various terrains and their geography and map sketching. But I get so tired that mostly sleep in the class itself. The only relief comes on Wednesday. A day when no physical training is there when we can play games of our choice.
Cocktail Zindagi: Any message you want to convey to the people who aspire to become a part of the defence forces in India?
Aakash: If you want it as a profession don’t come, if you want to be a hero then must come.
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