Those Were The Days, I Thought

Personal Reflections: OTS, Madras (Officers Training School, Madras, now, Officers Training Academy, Chennai). Sometime in Dec. 1963. Suddenly the atmosphere in OTS, where I am training to be an officer in Indian army, is electrified. Our passing out parade has been fixed for 2 Feb. 1964. For other GCs ('Gentlemen cadets' as trainee officers are called at the academy during training), it was a landmark day but for me it had another significance too. 2 Feb. happened to be my Birthday too. I would be exactly twenty years old on that fateful day.

Those were the days, I thought, would never end

We all had come to this great institution as boys, seven months ago but would be passing out as men, as officers of the Indian army. We had gone through the physically hardest, most trying time of our life. But it had also been equally satisfying time. Unfortunately, these days will never come back in our lives again. In hindsight, I fondly remember a line from an old English song “Those were the days, my friend, I thought, would never end”.

Today, 31.12.2020. It all seems, the mid-morning of life. How and where fifty six years (1964-2020) have gone, is simply impossible to comprehend. Time has it’s own way, moving quickly, unknowingly, catching you unaware. I was young, full of energy, and ambitious. I got married and embarked on a new life with my soul-mate, had children. They studied, married and became independent. I am seventy six years now.

I wonder where all the years have gone!

I wonder where all the years have gone. Furthermore, I know I have lived them and lived them well. But before I knew, DUSK of life has come. It seems to have come ‘so soon’. How it got here so fast, caught me by surprise? Where did my youth and middle age go? From mid-morning, straightaway dusk seems to have come, and it has come so fast, it is difficult to comprehend. During my younger days, I remember seeing older people, but ‘old age’ seemed so far away and something which only happened to others.

Those were the days, I thought, would never end.

Now, my friends, those young handsome guys full of energy and appetite, are retiring, getting gray, losing both energy and appetite. They move much slower now. They are not what I remember them to be, young, handsome, energetic, fast moving. Their age too is beginning to show. They look older, tired, hair thinning, skin sagging, eyesight getting weak, body resistance lowering, some part of body always aching when they get up.

I remember an old English song

Now, I am also just like those older people I thought, I would never be. I remember my grandfather who walked with a drooping posture with a stick, with wrinkled face, white hair. I never really believed, he was like us only, once upon a while. Likewise, I remember an old English song of our times “Those were the days, my friend, I thought would never end”.

There are things I wish I hadn’t done

Girl Window Beauty Hands Dreamy Memory Thoughts Those days memories

Now DUSK of my life has come, but do not know how long will it last, how far is the night, and when will it all, end? Yes, I have regrets. There are things I wish I hadn’t done and things I should have done. Of course, I am happy I have and was able to do many things which I should have. It’s all in a lifetime. But life is lived only once. Make the best of what you have rather than cribbing about what you don’t have. There will never be a second chance. Empty wishes (wish, I had or wish I had not) or regret will only be there to give you company.

Yes, money is important

Unfortunately, we have been entrapped into endless chase of wealth and material. Yes, money is important, but learn money’s correct perspective in life and be a master not a slave of money. Learn to make and live a life which is more important. Do not chase the illusion of happiness in material pursuits. Do not neglect your health, family and social responsibilities for single-minded pursuit of wealth, status and glamour. Think and lead a life as per the convictions dictated by your mind, not simply aping others, even though everyone else seems to be doing that.

Read also: Adjustment is the key to happiness

Take action, whatever you can, NOW

So, friends, whether you are in mid-morning, noon or evening of life, DUSK shall be there sooner than you can imagine. How long it will last, no one has an idea. But, it shall be there faster than you think. Whatever you want to accomplish, do it quickly.

Live for today

Don’t postpone, don’t procrastinate. Take action, whatever you can, NOW. Live for today! Say and do things you want people to remember about you. Love people more than things, spread goodness, help others, be kind, and generous, be forgiving, forever remain in gratitude and live a life of humility. Do all these because you do not know when the clock of life will stop and which sunset or sunrise will be the last. And Remember: NEVER REGRET GROWING OLD. IT IS A PRIVILEGE DENIED TO MANY.

Capt. Ravikant Mahajan(Vetern), (Sent by Email)