As I am writing this piece, in the midst of your rehearsal, I couldn’t help but marvel at the sense of unity and camaraderie amongst all of you out on the parade square. It was a short three months, and already we behaved like we already know one another for quite some time. This is what I like about the military. The way it fosters brotherhood/brings people together so quickly and so steadily, is something not many people can comprehend.
Three months ago, we are brought together, sergeants and trainees alike, by fate or coincidence to this “emergency technician course”. Having come from different backgrounds as well as different units, we were nothing but strangers. Of course there are some, if not few, familiar faces among the 200 plus faces. And funny enough, despite several mutual recognition, there was a stale awkwardness hanging in the air.
I daresay for the majority of us, who had just passed out from the Basic Military Training, getting posted to our new vocation was a deadly combination of excitement, anxiety and sheer reluctance. Trust me on this. To leave that one week of non-stop partying, shopping and just simply idling is no simple task, and presumably partly because of the capricious and uncontrollable nature of how “the system” works, waiting to know our next phase in life can be more than just nervewrecking.
As for the majority of the commandos, I supposed it was a pleasant relief to arrive here and not do anything really rigorous and strenuous in the coming three months.
Of course there was a subtle hint of dissatisfaction, which stems from personal egoistic problems as well as sheer repugnance, on the faces of some people.
“Why am I here?”
“I shouldn’t be here.”
“I so deserve to be in command school. What the fuck is this place?”
“This building is so fucking far.”
“Medic Life? Live IV cannulation? Gross. Fuck me.”
And there were the polar opposites.
“Praise the Lord!”
“Cheers to slack life!”
I recall being swiftly sorted into our respective platoons and sections. Though in the midst of all those logistical nonsense, there was a seemingly long journey to our respective bunks which we carried our own burdensome duffel bags containing our poorly presumed essential 10-pack items. Self-introductions were promptly made and eventually we settled down, clueless and restless about the days to come.
I vaguely remember the innate glee to have been posted here. A quick search on the internet dictates that life here in “Emergency Technician Course” is going to be a very idle. Furthermore, I was also going to be learning a new but useful skill that can save lives. And to top it off, I happen to have a very close friend who was willing to catch a cab to and from camp.
What can go wrong? I thought.
The answer appeared not long later in sheer uncanniness, as if answering my question. Lectures. Face it, lectures are boring. They are a panacea for those with insomnia. I was, quite surprisingly, not alone. There were after all people who shared the same sentiments. And it wasn’t long before some trainees, like me, were nodding our heads off on the comfortable cushioned lecture seats in the embrace of the cooling air-conditioned air. What you see was in other words, a natural phenomenon that is induced from the horrible droning of foreign medical terminologies and content at a rapid speed that is otiose in nature, quite the contrary from the intended help it promises in understanding everything that needs to be understood.
I am greatly indebted to so many people in my three months here. To list all would be a hustle for both readers and writer alike, so l will make do with some.
Of course on the top of the list goes to the funniest and liveliest person, who somehow managed to have himself a religion that forbids the consumption of most vegetables, and whose body not only holds a daring soul but, unfortunatelyfortunately, also holds a garrulous attitude. Life has became more meaningful and pleasing with him around. And I daresay we were (and still are) a hilarious and invincible combo. Jaryl, I do hope that all is well and we must keep in contact!
Then again, what is true enjoyment if our laughters can only be heard and shared within the four corners of the bunk? That is why there is so much love and thanks to the generosity of my beloved section commander, Sergeant Zul, who made those laughters echo, as well as simply making life hassel-free and aiding us in learning so much more.
Of course, there is my beloved status party, Hai Xiao, Bobbyz, Wilfred, Jon Ho, Tommy and some others, who did anything and everything all for the sake of passing time, such as having the karaoke sessions, the R21 jokes, as well as the gossips. It was more than just plain memorable but also valuable too. I guess I have grown so much more at the end of the day with you all.
Lastly, to my so close but yet so far neighbour, who is surprisingly shorter but unmistakably older than me and had been with me since Taurus in BMT, Jia Wei (gor gor). The journey from my place to yours may seem close, but it actually is fucking far. Crossing two bridges ain’t easy, but I did it. (cheers) Even though destiny and reality is cruel, tearing us travel buddies apart, I want you to know that I have found another one to replace you in the short three months we have been together, I have known you quite a bit more and learnt so much from you. With that, my gratitude is immense and I think there is a dire need to keep in contact.
“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.” – Henri J.M. Nouwen
A day passes by here very quickly, so is a week or weeks and eventually months. We have been through so much, shit and laughter together, and we finally reached the end. Our passing out ceremony.
I like ceremonies. The thing about ceremonies is that regardless of scale and also the fact that all of which represents some form of accomplishment , they ultimately echoes the notion of a successful and wholesome completion of whatever task, or journey that was undertaken, bringing a new meaning to life so as to speak. In other words, our parade albeit minuscule in scale, not only represented our graduation and accomplishment, they also do signify our coming dedication and duty to seek, save and serve when the time comes. And it was a pity that I have succumb to some sort of lesion, and regrettably not being allowed and able to participate in the almost flawless parade with the rest of you all.
The beginning of every “Hello” ultimately ends with a distant “goodbye”! And every “Goodbye” signifies a new beginning, a new greeting. I will miss my days here as a trainee. The sights, the sounds, the melancholic groans when it comes to IV practices, the desperate but fruitful prays for CAT 1, the way how our indecency often gets picked but forgiven … … I am thankful for my supportive section, for the wonderful platoon, for the generous commanders, for the laughters, and most defintely for the fruitful experience here. That is why as we part ways, I wish all the best of luck and bon voyage!