Humour in Uniform : How Language Save the day for a Second Lieutenant in front of Goras?

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from a naval Commodore ...

Yet another colourful but true story about my Dad.


The Year 1941

My father was commissioned in September 1941 into the Royal Indian Artillery. 

He went to join his regiment which was stationed in Peshawar. When he reported to his Commanding officer, the British lieutenant colonel was overjoyed. This was the first ever Indian officer to join the regiment. 

He told my father that on the following Monday, he would be introduced by the CO to the troops, and the youngster would then address them in the native language.

The regiment consisted of Pathans and Punjabi Muslim troops who only spoke Pashto and Punjabi.

My father who had never been outside of Bombay and Mangalore, only spoke English and Konkani !!

So this newly commissioned second lieutenant was in a true jam, and in absolute panic.

He requested the Subedar major of the regiment to please come and meet him.
When he explained the hopeless situation he was in, the experienced old Subedar Major thought for a moment, and then said 
"Second lieutenant Sahab, we are both Indians and we cannot let our country down in front of these Goras. So you give the speech in whatever language you want.

  When you finish speaking, just flick some imaginary dust of your right collar. I will handle the rest"

So,on the following Monday morning, the entire regiment was assembled on the parade ground and the British Lieutenant Colonel introduced his young Indian subaltern to the troops in flowery British English, which no Indian present understood.
 He then said his young Second lieutenant DSouza would now address the troops in their native language.

As my father later told me, his knees were knocking together as he ascended the steps to the podium.

Dad, then all of 24 years old, proceeded to deliver a stirring speech in Konkani to the troops, on how to grow and care for coconut trees on the Mangalore coast !!

At the appropriate moment, as agreed earlier, he flicked off some imaginary dust from his collar 
The entire assembled regiment stood up and delivered a thunderous applause. The British officers seeing this, also stood up and joined in the applause for the young second lieutenant for the extremely motivating speech !!

And that is how 2/Lt D'Souza was inducted into the Artillery regiment in Peshawar.

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