Lieutenant Mohammad Haseeb Khan, Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry, talks about his journey from a long-haired college kid to a lean, mean fighting machine. Lieutenant Mohammad Haseeb Khan’s story appears in Shoot. Dive. Fly. by Rachna Bisht Rawat. We bring you this excerpt from the book with permission from publishers Penguin Random House India:
A day at the Academy
Fit and confident, with warm eyes and a sparkling smile, twenty-two-year-old Lieutenant Mohammad Haseeb Khan talks to me while doing the Young Officers course in Mhow to tell me about the training every Army officer has to undergo. ‘I have an hour,’ he says, looking at his watch, and starts by sharing with me his most vivid childhood memory. ‘We used to live in the Lucknow cantonment. It was my fourth birthday, or maybe fifth,’ he says, nostalgically. ‘My father, Naib Subedar Mohammad Saleem Khan, screened the movie Border for all my friends. He placed a TV on the ground outside our house and all of us sat there, openmouthed, watching Sunny Deol play Major Kuldip Singh Chandpuri, the famous hero of the Battle of Longewala in 1971. For many days after that, we would go around with
For many days after that, we would go around with sticks balanced on our shoulders, pretending they were guns,’ he laughs. ‘I think that was my first inspiration to join the Army.’ However, Khan was destined for greater things. He joined the paltan of the famed Param Vir Chakra awardee, Subedar Major and Honorary Captain Bana Singh, PVC, after whom a post at the Siachen Glacier is also named.
The Khans were living in Sector 14 in Dwarka, New Delhi, when the call came from the OTA in Chennai. In October 2014, he boarded a train for Chennai, embarking on a three day journey that would take him there. Khan says as soon he was granted admission to the OTA, he had started running and going to the gym to prepare for the physical rigour of the Academy. ‘But nothing prepares you for what’s actually in store for you,’ he smiles.
Gentleman Cadet at nineteen
An OTA bus comes to pick up the fifty young boys who are waiting nervously at the Chennai railway station. They have come from all parts of the country—from Bengaluru to Bengal—and don’t know each other yet. But in one year, they will turn into friends for life who will not only be ready to live but also die for each other. The OTA has seven companies (five for Gentlemen Cadets (GCs) and two for Lady Cadets (LCs) and each cadet is allotted one. Gentleman Cadet Khan gets assigned to Naushera. Around 1 p.m., he is standing outside the company block with forty-nine others.
The seniors step out and welcome them to the Academy. They say the boys will have to prove they are worthy of Naushera. To do this is quick and easy. ‘Nine knuckle pushups on the road and you can come in,’ a stern-faced senior tells them, stifling a smile. One by one, all fifty do the required push-ups, some more easily than others, and are allowed to pick up their luggage and come inside the building. Khan says he found it tough but managed to do all nine. Once inside, each cadet becomes an understudy to a senior cadet who will be their friend, philosopher and guide during their months at the OTA. Khan is understudy to Gentleman Cadet Anuj Kumar. ‘Over the months, he guided me with everything—right from fixing my uniform to table manners to physical training (PT),’ says Khan. When I couldn’t clear my PT test, he would call me to his room and make me practise. It was a great support system to have him around,’ he says.
The first one month at the Academy is called the ‘honeymoon period’……
SSBCrack: To read the complete story and more such amazing real-life stories you can get this book here. It is a must-read book for every defence aspirant, it has so many real stories to inspire you to join the forces.