The hustle and bustle of my mind appears to cease…I’m sitting in a quiet corner of office, knowing that I will have to connect with a military personnel over a phone call. Scary as it gets, I try and memorise the questions I have to ask Capt. Nitin Joshi. Nervousness and anxiety overcomes me as I am uncertain of how the conversation will go. I dial his number. The receiving end answers the call. “Hello”… a stern voice I hear, one that reminds me of the weight and gravity of his position, as I stammer…ask him if I can go ahead with a few questions…I feel the excitement in his voice over the call… Why not? Please go ahead… Captain Joshi makes me feel at home!
I rush through the questions and he answers me calmly.
How would you describe your book in short?
He excitedly put it as, “ Once A Soldier…is a story of a soldier who is born with a heart of a soldier. It revolves around the life of a young man who dreams of serving his country, who excels at the hardships of military training and advances to become a decorated officer. But then destiny plays its part and under unavoidable circumstances the young man discontinues his duties in the army. But the determination and loyalty towards his country remains intact. A few years down the line, destiny seems to bow down and gives him a chance to relive his dream. And this time destiny demands that he be a soldier in disguise…a soldier on a secret mission!”
The conversation gets engaging and I listen with deep concentration. Soldiers aren’t as alien as I thought. They live in faraway, inaccessible lands to ensure our safety. They sound faintly aloof because it is possible that we treat them different. Capt. Joshi’s talk seems to soothe me.
Sir, please tell us something about the theme of your story.
“Terrorism”…he says with a pause. “ I have tried to give an insight about the parasite that must be demolished before it rots the system. Terrorism is a sensitive issue. It can destroy the country and all the precious assets that go along with it”.
Is this your story that you have mentioned in the book?
“ Not really. But yes, I was in the Indian Army and my closeness with this field has certainly been reflected in my work. The protagonist is inspired by my experience as well as the people with whom I’m closely connected to in real life. People are unaware of issues like terrorism, the kind of hostile environment the military faces and the involvement of intelligence officers in cracking the challenges of terrorism. I have tried to build a bridge of transparency through my work, that would help common people understand the complexities of how military systems function”.
We would like to know more about you.
He replied, “ I’m Captain Nitin Joshi. I was in the Indian Army for five years. I have travelled and lived all over India as the job demanded so. I have completed my Graduation in Sociology and a Diploma in Hotel Management from Mumbai University. My Post Graduation was focused on excelling in Defence and Strategic Studies. After retirement, I turned to writing and I also work as a soft skills trainer”.
Was it challenging to write this book?
“Writing and reading is my passion. I don’t find it challenging to write. As far as writing this book is considered, words just flowed because the story was close to my heart”.
What advice would you give to young people who keep themselves away from choosing the armed forces as a career option?
“Well, I would put it in two ways. As responsible citizens of this country, one can serve the country in their own independent terms. I would not ask everybody to pick up a rifle and go to the borders to prove their loyalty towards the country. But, you can do your part by being socially aware. One must be sincere towards his work, pay taxes on time and support the nation in ways that the need demands. On the other hand, if an individual considers himself capable of joining the defence services then he must go on. Defence doesn’t necessarily mean war. It is a good career option. It trains and develops a young mind in different faculties. Military services help you in being disciplined, team builders, teachers and it holds a bright future for young people”.
How has your experience with Vishwakarma Publications been?
“It was smooth sailing. I got the support I was expecting and it didn’t restrict or affect my writing. Vishwakarma Publications have been wonderful to work with.”