‘I’m sorry I’m late. I forgot to look at my watch!’ No, I did not tell this to the Battalion Commander. I went a step further and when he pointed out that I was a good half hour late in reaching, I replied, ‘My watch says I’m on time, sir.’
My watch indeed reflected what I said, but not because it was 1530 hours but because I had commandeered it to say so.
I knew I had to be in the minor OT (Obstacles training) ground for my remaining BPETs (Battle Proficiency and Endurance Tests) at sharp 1530 hours but we an ‘outdoors’ class that day and it was already 3 by the time I reached the mess.
‘No, I’m not going to miss my lunch,’ I thought and smiled at the next thought, ‘Let the Colonel wait.’ A small voice within me egged me on to finish my lunch fast, change into the right dress, get my rifle issued from the kot and reach the spot for the test, but I chose not to listen to it. As I unhurriedly strolled back to my cabin in the Company Lines, the CSM (Company Sargent Major) saw me and said in a horrified voice, ‘The BO is waiting for you. He has sent across a message asking you to be there on the double.’ The Military Academy is a place where everything happens on the double… which, in simple language just meat that I had to literally sprint into my dungarees, sprint over to the kot (a place where weapons are kept), and sprint to the OT area.
‘GC 15124 reporting, sir.’
‘You’re late. What happened?’
‘My watch says I’m on time sir.’
He bent to peer into my watch and then gave me an incredulous look, ‘OK. Let’s see if you clear the 9 ft ditch, the monkey rope, and the fireman lift today one after the other.’
It does not matter what happened after this. It does not matter that I flunked my BPETs. All that matters is what the Battalion Officer said as he left, ‘Watch your watch carefully or you’ll fail to get anywhere.’
Now every time my maid skips a work day and comes with her reason… or when my designer in the office wants to get around some scheduled task for his personal work… or when my son wants to lean on some excuse for not wanting to do his assignment… every time I see someone look for an excuse for not working or shirking or avoiding, I want to tell them, ‘Watch your watch carefully or you’ll fail to get anywhere.’
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