(The Chindits were a
British India 'Special Force'" that served in Burma and India in 1943 and 1944 during the Burma Campaign in World War II. They were formed to put into effect eccentric officer Orde Wingate's newly developed guerrilla warfare tactic of long-range penetration.
The name is derived from the word Chinthe’, a mythical beast and protector of Buddhist worship places)
Azad Hind Fauz Camp 
1943
Somewhere in Arakan province, Burma


Gurkha! You betrayed your country. Do you deny that?”

The booming voice resounded, full with anger that stems from that unflinching love for your country.

The Gurkha, was unmoved. Gazing into horizon, with a noose around his neck and a buffalo holding him against a painful death. Both nonchalant and both with a rope.

Gurkha! You chose not to follow the orders of you superior, Rifleman Bajpeyee. Do you deny that?”

He almost smiled, but then grimaced and let out a loud fart. The platoons around giggled sheepishly, trying to hide their amusement. The buffalo almost jolted, let out a loud moo. The sound merged into an ironical cacophony.

Gurkha! You assaulted Rifleman Bajpeyee with an intention to kill. Do you deny that?”

“NO” replied the Gurkha for the first time in a voice gone hoarse from long silence, “I slit the bastard. Ear to ear”

Defiance danced balefully in his jaundice eyes.

The enquirer signaled a soldier. The soldier poked the buffalo with the bayonet and it ran off bellowing. A few yards ahead, it stopped almost as if to look at the scenes behind him. There was no sound but for a screech. The Gurkha was dangling like a fly in a spider web, kicking and choking. His futile efforts lasted minutes before life shunned his body. The traitor was dead. The patriots let out the war cry “Jai Hind!”


Chindit Patrol Party

April 13, 1943
Somewhere in Arakan Province, Burma


Chiiiiiiiiiin…diiiiiit…chindit!, What kind of chutia name is that for a regiment?” asked the man with .303 Enfield rifle slung across his back.

“Indeed a chutia name Bajpeyee. But I wonder why does it rhyme so much with ‘Pundit’?”

Nand Singh, the sardar, had a way of keeping his humor even in the face of intense desolation. His pearl white teeth flashed through his dense beard and his laughter latched on to the dreary creepers around him.

“What problem do you have with me being a pundit betichod? Have I ever made a comment on sardars?” asked Bajpeyee, clearly irked with Nand Singh’s jape.

“No…I don’t have any problem…I just want to laugh my share before this place swallows me. And as for Sardars, you are free to say whatever you like. It won’t hurt me yaara because the only ‘Sardar-thing’ about me is this turban otherwise I am just another chutia like the three of you but with a Bren gun.” chuckled Nand Singh and clearly failed to notice that the Gurkha besides him was none too pleased about his jest. He was a soldier and a not a chutia. At least so he felt.

As the party fell silent an ever present haunted quiet, accentuated by erratic chirping of crickets, grew over them. Piercing this numbness emerged a sweet albeit muffled croon from Khuda Daad Khan, the sniper of the party-

“आज हिमालय की चोटी से, हमने ये ललकारा है...
दूर हटो, दूर हटो, दूर हटो....
ए दुनियावालों, हिंदुस्तान हमारा है....”

Kismet! That...that actor…what’s his name? Umm…Ashok Kumar… Eh?” asked the Sardar


“Yes…what a song! What a movie!” sighed Khuda Daad.

“What movie? There was a time when they could not find a lady for pious queen’s role even for a dharmik movie like ‘Raja Harishchandra’ and look now…these cheeky bastards are showcasing girls getting pregnant before marriage. Kya nangaanaach hai?” lamented Bajpeyee.

“Hmm…forget the movie but you can’t deny the zing of the song…wish we could sing something like that while marching. I have heard Aazad Hind Fauz has some real catchy marching songs.” spoke Khuda Daad with a longing in his voice.

“You talk too much about Azad Hind and the Bengali Babu these days. You might turn yourself over to the ‘Gaddar Bangali?’ Eh MiyanJi? Asked Nand Singh with words brimming with spite. Khuda Daad gulped all that insult and kept his silence.

Their stealth march continued for a few hundred meters and then they turned north-west to a knoll fringed by tufts of amber grass. They had taken a small break. The journey was long. A few gulps of water and then the party would move on again. Nand Singh put down his bag of supplies, took out binoculars, handed his Bren Gun to Bajpeyee and started a slow and careful climb to the top of hillock to survey the path ahead. It was a good fifteen minutes before the Sardar climbed down to join the group at the foot of the knoll.

“I hope his majesty has counted all the leaves of all the trees in whole of the jungle?” Khuda Daad was annoyed. “Jaahil”, he muttered.

“They have left no trees. No farms. There is ash and smoke everywhere. Haraamzaade. These Japanis have burned everything. Ash and Smoke. Ash and smoke…..” The farmer inside the soldier Nand Singh lamented.

Sardarji. Tell me one thing. Japanis burnt a village in Burma and you are all sentimental and outraged. Tell me how did you make up your mind about joining Raani Victoria ki Fauj after her sepoys looted our harvest in Amritsar? What year was that? 1919…wasn’t it? And it was people like you and me who had to fire on the unarmed women and children in Jalianwala. Eh SARDAR JI?” asked Khuda Daad with a smirk laden with same spite that Nand Singh had hurled at him minutes ago.

Sardar stared hard at Khuda Daad’s face with enraged eyes and before anyone could so much as blink, Sardar delivered an iron fisted punch threatening to shatter the latter’s jaws.

“Enough! Enough both of you…Stop fighting like wild cocks kela!” Gurkha said with clenched mouth, separating his comrades with his reedy yellow hands.

Unabashed, Nand Singh spat before Khuda Daad and started to climb up the knoll again. Khuda Daad lay sprawled on the ground, panting and trying to catch his breath.

Bajpeyee approached Khuda Daad with steady feet, held him with collar tightly and said-“Next time anything remotely rebellious comes out of your worthless mouth I am going to rip out your intestine you son of a whore!”

All of a sudden there was a gunshot far off and next thing Bajpeyee saw was lifeless body of Nand Singh rolling down the knoll, leaving a smattering of thick, dirty red in the yellow dust down the slope. World became a bit gloomier without Nand Singh. Ash and smoke…

“SHNIPER… in the jungle …” hissed the Gurkha.

“I think we should fall back and report to Young Sahib.” proposed Khuda Daad.

“Yes” seconded Gurkha. He slung his gun across the back.

“Wait…wait...” cautioned Bajpeyee. Gurkha, who was just about to start the walk back to the base, stopped in his steps.

Bajpeyee approached Nand Singh’s dead body, squatted by the side of blood smeared head gingerly and gazed at the corpse for what seemed like an eternity.

Gurkha! He was surveying the woods. Right?” Bajpeyee asked and Gurkha nodded. “Then how do you explain this?” Bajpeyee added.

“Explain what?” asked Khuda Daad.

“There’s just this small hole at the back of his head, while…look…his entire forehead is blasted out. That means this got to be the exit wound. And that means…”

“That means he was not shot from the jungle side” Gurkha said in a hushed voice.

“We are fucked! There is a sniper back in the direction we are coming from” realized Khuda Daad.
“Let’s move towards the jungle.” Bajpeyee eyed both his comrades.

“We don’t know what’s out there…in the jungle” Khuda Daad said.

“Yeah! But there’s sniper in the camp’s direction that we know for sure.” Said Bajpeyee.

“Alright! Lets march towards jungle and wait in the woods till we receive some support.” Khuda Daad licked his lips nervously.

The party marched ahead harboring a hope as shallow as the countless marshes they have encountered. Jungle was ready to swallow the chindits like some fabled Burmese giant with fangs of wood and a tongue as dark as shadows lurking between dense tropical growth ahead.


Reconnaissance Base of Chindits
April 12, 1943
Somewhere in Arakan Province, Burma


Lt. Peter Young of Chindit’s reconnaissance party was devouring some raw eggs of some unknown animal that he had accidently found while taking a shit in the shadow of a bare and treeless mound. The underfed officer devoured the eggs. The luxuries of war... He picked all the empty shells one by one and sucked them hard like a starved baby sucks on its mother’s teats.

The unmistakable sound of cocking of a gun brought him out of his egg shells. Before he had a chance to pull his pants up, the worst happened-

Banzaaaaaaaaaai…!” shouts emerged from every direction and bullets flew, aimed at their makeshift camp. His Chindit force was being skirmished mercilessly. Half his troops were already dead before first Chindit shot could be fired.

Lt. Young realized that his entire party was about to be wiped out. He started crawling to the camp to destroy his diary and whatever documents they had. While his body crawled his mind was racing. How did the Japanese find about the Chindit hideout? He could smell the diarrhea of treachery in his camp. Some bastard must have informed the Japanese…

He reached the tent, opened his polythene lined canvas bag and upended it…but just like the egg shells he had left behind, it was all empty!

His worst fears had come true.

“There is a spy in the unit."

The documents had maps and codes to contact other camps. This would endanger everyone in that godforsaken forest.

Guns had fallen silent. The Japanese entered the camp from every side, trampling the corpses of dead Chindits, bayonets ready to stab the wounded.

Lt Young sat there…waiting to meet his end.

“Traitors…” his last words could be clearly heard, had they not been choked with the gush of blood oozing from the stab-wound in his throat.

“There was a spy in the unit.”
 

Chindit Patrol Party
April 13, 1943
Somewhere in Arakan Province, Burma
 


Gurkha, Khuda Daad and Bajpeyee trudged deep inside the jungle, eying every direction ominously. They reached a small, derelict Gompa situated in the heart of the jungle with dilapidated, lichen infested walls, bearing a witness to the ages of silence and the sudden chaos. This otherwise eerie Gompa looked so inviting to exhausted bodies and weary legs that Khuda Daad and Bajpeyee sprawled on the floor while Gurkha, as tenacious as only a Gurkha can be, stood with rifle in his hand, watchful, scanning the periphery.

“That was exceptional!” whispered Khuda Daad.

“What was exceptional?” Bajpeyee responded.

“Entry and exit wound…direction of bullet. I didn’t know you would turn out to be such a ‘Bomkesh Bakhshi’.”

Bomkesh? What is Bomkesh?”

“A Satyanveshi…Um...A detective. I travelled all the way to Kolkata from my home in Murshidabad to buy the novel. Look Bomkesh Bakhshi is…"
"Well, never mind” Khuda Daad stopped giving way to all pervading humming and buzzing silence of the jungle.

“Shall we ever return to our homes?” Bajpeyee picked up the lost string of conversation.

“I don’t know. But Khuda Kasam I find it almost a haraam to die in jungle…alone.”

“Yes, dead…alone…fighting for Laat Sahib and Rani Victoria” Bajpeyee smirked mysteriously. Khuda Daad kept staring at the bosom of dark sky and fell asleep.

“Getup! Getup Shaala! There is someone hiding in the bushes! Ready to fight” Gurkha hissed.

Bajpeyee and Khuda Daad clutched their guns and jolted up. Sunlight was strewn over their sleepy eyes. Morning had caught them unaware and so had the enemy.

They locked and loaded their guns and took positions behind the parapet…waiting…listening to their own breaths…curling finger around the trigger and it happened-

Banzaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaai…” was the war cry, striking their ear drums and sending a familiar chill down the spine.

Ten’no Ni Sho’riiiiiiii!” suddenly hollered Bajpeyee on top of his voice.

“What the hell are you doing” Khuda Daad looked at Bajpeyee with bewildered eyes.

“Ten’no Ni Sho’riiiiiiii!” shouted again Bajpeyee not paying any attention to Khuda Daad or Gurkha.

In response to the shouts of Bajpeyee, a gaunt yellow bespectacled man in khakis emerged from behind the bushes, his rifle still aiming at them, ready to fire.

The Japanese stopped in his steps and shouted- “Sho’ri Subhas Bosu suru!”. All that the Gurkha could see was a golden tooth shining through the Japanese mouth.

Khuda Daad watched Bajpeyee going through steps and reaching out to the Japanese officer,

Japanese officer welcomed Bajpeyee and they hugged like old friends.

And suddenly it all dawned upon Khuda Daad; Bajpeyee’s detective act, his enjoining the party to enter the jungle…it was his plan…it was his conspiracy.

Bangali Babu ka Jasoos!” a transfixed Khuda Daad murmured.

The same realization dawned upon Gurkha too, making him seethe with rage.

Gurkha and Khuda Daad looked at each other for a second. An image of Nand Singh smiling through his bushy beard appeared. His forehead had a gaping hole. Gurkha unsheathed his KukriKhuda Daad loaded his rifle. Both the soldier vaulted over the parapet and charged.

Jai Mahakali!” shouted the Gurkha and lunged towards Bajpeyee. All, which bewildered Bajpeyee could manage, was a gurgling sound after Gurkha slit his throat with a clean slash of Kukri. Before Bajpeyee’s blood soaked body could hit the ground, he stabbed the Japanese officer too.

Gurkha looked to his right. A fusillade of Japanese bullets was hitting Khuda Daad all over his body.

Khuda Daad hit the ground like a crumbled wall…his eyes were lifeless. He was muttering something. May be prayers. May be the same choicest abuses that Nand Singh would have muttered.

Muzzles of Japanese rifles were aimed at him now. He stood his ground, motionless as a plank, before a dozen Japanese took hold of him and sprawled him onto the ground.

But it did not matter now. He had killed the betrayer. 

Gaddar shaala...” 
He spat before being gagged and taken away by the enemy soldiers...


Picture Credits: Another Patrol, War Series, By Jacob Lawrence, Tempera on Composition Board

[ Stories of a Seeker are a series of posts by an author who wants to be known as "Seeker" You can follow him at https://twitter.com/SeekerStories .  Read more by Seeker at  Stories of a Seeker ]

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