Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Caught Between Scylla and Charybdis

A short description of a funny incident in my life, deeply etched in my mind;
World War II saw me serving in a quasi-Military organization, put in charge of the ARP setup (Air Raid Precaution) in Madurai.

Link : Air Raid Precaution - Another view

We, the men in blue (MIB perhaps) were a special target of attack, as the police officer in-charge had dropped his blue, put on kakhi and joined the police force for the emergency.

No, not them....
Not Them either...

This is who I'm talking about (Blue in black and white!)
That provoked the people and anyone in blue was open game.

On a dark night, with a black-out in force, I received a message from the control room, reporting the assembly of a large crowd, covered in a dark aura and in a violent threatening mood!

The voice of the officer incharge of the room (shivering in palpable fear) moved me so much that I decided that I must join him; at least to give him moral support.

I started walking up the street in mufti to save myself from the crowd.

Suddenly, I found that a part of the crowd was moving up behind me, armed with sticks and stones. In front there was a column of police officers ready with guns and lathis. Vehicles in the service, head light acting as search beacons, were put to use to pick out demonstrators hiding in nooks and corners so that they could be properly dealt with.

Side Note : This brings to mind, The charge of the Light Brigade, only nowhere as dramatic to the rest of the world, but my skin was valuable enough to me!

Link : The Charge of the Light Brigade : The poem

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley'd and thunder'd;

Caught between the Devil and the Deep sea, I suddenly walked into what I thought was a by-lane, only to find myself facing a closed door.

The people in the house were in no mood to help me out, but the tone of my voice (and the frenetic knocking!) must have ultimately stirred their hearts to sympathy and the doors ware suddenly thrust open, I was pulled in and immediately they were shut behind me.

A few minutes, the clash of lathis and sticks, the crash of stones and guns fired into the air, and then the streets were deserted. I proceeded, with caution, to the control room only to find everything normal and under control, the crowd having already dispersed. Much ado and effort over naught!

I wondered then, is not discretion the better part of valor!!

For those not well versed in Greek lore : Between Scylla and Charybdis

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