Hilarious : Sena Medal & Bar or SM***

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I am a recipient of Sena medal (gallantry) twice, awarded for two operational actions, almost sixteen years apart from each other at two different locations. This post is not to be misunderstood as a self Tomtoming exercise, its only to convey the agony I am undergoing by virtue of this double Dhamaka. Maybe its a revenge by the Terrorists despatched to their heavenly abode by me and my team.

Everything was fine as long as I had only one Gallantry Medal. When I received the second Gallantry Medal I went through varied experiences. On receipt of my first award I received a personal letter from the then Chief of Army Staff Gen AS Vaidya. Then a Bachelor, my brother's comments were that this would get me a bride fast. Unfortunately in God's own country, an Army officer, awarded or not is way down the marriage market, no guesses for the top one. I happened to get a bride who had no clue about what an Army Officer did and awards and rewards had no meaning to her at that time.

When I received the second Medal, the first guy who did not appreciate this was my helper (Buddy). He told my wife - "Didn't the Government realise that Saab has already got a Sena Medal, why have they given him the same medal a second time? They could have awarded him a Vishisht Seva Medal (VSM) atleast." (VSM is below SM in the order of precedence). For him an additional medal on my chest would have looked better be it low in precedence.

The second was the Govt of Kerala or rather a Babu sitting in the Secretariat. The State Govt allocates remuneration (Kerala allocates peanuts as compared to other states for valour) to various award winners. I wrote to the Govt asking them to sanction me the authorised cash benefits. The reply from them was that they had already sanctioned for the first one and there was no grant for the repeated awards. The letter almost meant ''Don't disturb us time and again or so what you received an award the second time" or words to that effect.

Till I was in service I could write SM & Bar against my name as it was understood by the men in uniform that it's Sena Medal and Bar to Sena Medal. But when my cousin, a well known Film personality visited me, I saw a very happy smile on his friend's face. The guy thought that I have a Bar attached in my house.

So I changed my appendage to SM**. It went on without any hiccups until I had to make a visiting card in the new organisation where I worked . Even after all briefings the draft was put up to me minus the asterix (**). I asked him where did the asterix go missing - He told me that he thought that the asterix meant a pointer to a foot note, so he thought why avoid the confusion - Just Leave It.

The best one which knocked me unconscious was from a guy who had a little bit of knowledge about the Army Rank structure, came up to me and said, "Sir I have a doubt - How can you be a Colonel and a Subedar Major at the same time?"

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