Those of us fortunate enough to wake up alive today, braving doomsday predictions, may not term it a big deal after all. People with a negative mindset wait for this kind of once-a-lifetime prediction, marking the end of the world. However, for a positive thinker, today, tomorrow and the days after that all have the makings of a doomsday. So how does it matter?
A school child too busy to do his/her class assignment senses a catastrophe at school the next day. An unprepared teacher frets at the possibility of an embarrassing query from a naughty or a bright kid. A housewife is paranoid about missing her kitty party lest the husband decides to take a day off.
A husband returning after an extended stag party is tense about the possible repercussions at home. A senior golfer buddy of mine was diagnosed with an ailment necessitating a surgery. His doctor explained the pitfalls of such a procedure. The brave old man asked the surgeon, "Doc, please go ahead if it is less dangerous than crossing a road?" Practical thinking indeed!
Marriage is a big event, definitely for the bride and a debatable proposition for the groom. The thought of impending slavery is not a pleasant one for most but there is hope that maybe the tables are turned for once. Millions of such positive male members of the species have hugged doomsday on their grooms day. The bachelor's party, band baaja, dance and halla gulla are all ways to gain courage and embrace the trap jubilantly.
This particular incident was an eye-opener. I was commanding a regiment stationed in a desert. After a routine training exercise in the field, we were preparing to return to base when we received orders to deploy forces at our operational areas on the border as a fallout of a terrorist attack on Parliament on December 13, 2001. The troops were in high spirits and rearing to prove their mettle in their primary task of war fighting.
The upbeat mood was infectious. Around Lohri in January 2002, it became evident that a confrontation with the adversary was inevitable. I gathered the troops for a pep talk and also to explain the compulsions of a possible war. At the end, I asked as an open response as to who all would like to lead the regiment during an offensive across the border. Almost all hands went up. I picked the most cheerful of the lot and asked him his reason for the initiative.
The guy, a chip of the old block, quipped in the inimitable cavalry style, "Saab, biwi ki dutkaar aur havaldar major ki phatkaar ab ban gayi hai dushwaar. Desh ke pyar ki khatir kyon na ho jayen nyochaar. (The wife's reprimand and the sergeant's pulling up have become unbearable. Why not sacrifice life for the love of the nation?)." Such should be the desire to embrace doomsday, whenever it's scheduled, rather than fearing it everyday.