we charge ahead as one

Time is sometimes silent, sometimes loud. Which is as much a good thing as a bad thing. Time is a scarcity. Which makes it also a problematic asset to possess. Time is a paradox. Which is too mind-boggling to even bother. But most importantly, time flies. And it sure did in a manner of bitter sweetness combined with a little bit of joyful sadness.

Because it was as if it was last week where I recall enlisting into the army with the hair on my head shaved away, abandoning my sheltered civilian life and embracing the military one as well as beginning a process of metamorphosis both physically and mentally. I was entering a new phase in life that is mandatory for every Singaporean son. I was ill-prepared, dubious, anxious, excited, reluctant and scared. I was no soldier material. I cannot run, cannot jump, cannot engage wholeheartedly into any strenuous physical activities without attaining a bruise or two. The thought of getting drenched in perspiration, getting dirtied with mud and sand, getting hurled at with profanities disgusts me. I was a sissy. And a very hopeless one indeed. And just two days ago, I managed to graduate from the Basic Military Training Centre. This all happened in a period of four months.

Four months was not exactly short nor was it long either. But it definitely was gruelling. What else can you expect when you are isolated on an island so close to home yet so far away for the majority of the week with no forms of outside world communication, except for the pathetic muted televisions in the cookhouse, which is available only during mealtimes, and the horribly short personal time back at night when all activities cease? I vouched never to cry, never to let my parents worry, never to make trouble for the people around me. Yet, I broke down, let my parents worry, and eventually caused some problems. I guess they were inevitable. In these four months, I have been through a lot (trust me on this, read here and here and here) and learnt a lot at the same time. I think things happen for a reason. The fact that we meet ordeals essentially translates into a test of resilience, wits and courage. When they do come, pain will ensue. Because if it never hurts, then it will not be meaningful; we will not grow. And at the end of the day, after these four months, I see myself change into a completely new person.

Till now I am still in a state of stupefaction.

From the ridiculous “Agility Group Runs”, to the “Route Marches”, to the much anticipated “Basic TrainFire package”, to the very much dreaded “Field Camp”, to the debilitating and arduous “Graduation Parade Rehearsals”. I have conquered them all. Not alone. But together with my band of brothers, my comrades. I am truly grateful and very much indebted to all of them because without their presence, I doubt I would have walked as far.   

I am not going to lie that everything between all of us was fine and smooth-sailing. Because there have been times when we quarrelled, and hurled caustic remarks at one another especially at our own stupidity, even to the extent of having every deliberate intent to sabotage. Perhaps it was because we are somewhat mature, or perhaps it was for the greater good, or simply perhaps we gave up, for at the end of the day, we still manage to work together and overcome several seemingly insurmountable feats which were very much kindly distributed out by our “beloved” commanders from hell. That said, I know the commanders also do not have it easy either. Like us, they too are humans. They have emotions. They succumb to sickness. They do occasionally break down. Their responsibility for us is immense. We never see it, but we can feel it and we know it. They are people with calibre deserving of every single respect that they rightfully learn, not from the ranks they wear but from the actions they show. It was more than an honour to be with my comrades and my commanders.

One day, we will all come to a realisation that time is limited. One day, we will realise that our bank accounts is buried deep into the ground and our bills rocketed sky high. One day, we will desire greater financial and materialistic wealth. One day we will feel the need to be crop up with work. One day, family will come into play. One day, we will miss old times. I am already missing my time with them, both comrades and commanders alike. But I have no regrets because I did/still do cherish them.

At long last, the completion of both the 24km route march from Changi Ferry Terminal to the Floating Platform at the Marina Bay as well as the Graduation Parade marks the end of a recruit’s life as well as an indication for the one that has yet to come. To me, there lies a renewed sense of fulfilment. A very subtle bliss. I am happy. I have changed. I still remember the scene where I threw my cap together with Ryan. It was beautiful. Very Beautiful. 

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***

Much love to all those who came by to support me and my fellow brothers. I can never thank the few people who has been motivating me throughout. Shout out goes to Taurus Coy Platoon 1 and 2LT Daniel Lim, 2SGT Ming Han, 3SGT Mubarak, 3SGT Aldwin, 3SGT Eden.

#WECHARGEAHEADASONE!

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~ Happy POP~

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