Gracefully Gabbar

Updated on June 16, 2019

It was a visual titillation; an emotional treat; and a perceptional thrill, for everyone congregated there. Havildar Gabbar Singh too stood at ease beside the concrete column with a canopy of toughened glass that housed the eternal flame dedicated to martyrs, surveying the parade of fresh recruits preceding their formal conscription into the Indian Army. Twenty two years ago, he had been one among those energetic and earnest youngsters still in their teens. That day had made him gratified and proud. The period that followed leading up to the present had made him wise. Circumspect acceptance had replaced reckless enthusiasm; his awareness of himself had extended beyond his physical self; life offered a new meaning to the exercise of living.

A strange twist of providence had caused Indian filmdom to immortalize his name even before he was born, albeit in a contentious fashion. For a great majority of Indians worldwide, the name 'Gabbar' would bring immediately to mind only the rugged, bearded, and malicious face of a bandit character of a blockbuster movie. While one dictionary listed a number of meanings for this word with negative behavioral connotations, there were a few significations that denoted positive social tendencies as well. As human propensity is generally towards negativity, Gabbar may have been troubled by what people associated his name and hence himself, with. The dawn of wisdom would certainly have expanded the domain of concordance in the context of associativity and diminished the intensity of the umbrage that this apparent anomaly generated. His friendly, calm countenance and gentle voice, when not issuing official orders to his subordinates, too must have contributed to this phenomenon.

The band played the regimental tune, as the recruits marched past the reviewing officer whose visage conveyed general approval of the solemn proceedings that adhered to expected meticulousness. Involuntarily, Gabbar started to mumble the lyrics in an undertone. The inspiring words of the regimental theme song ascribed to a celebrated poet of yesteryears, had always aided him during challenging moments of his occupational pursuits. In fact, these were the very words that spurred him into action on that fateful day while on duty in a militancy infested area of Kashmir Valley. It was the 6th of February 2004, a dark, snowy, and chillingly cold winter evening setting an ominous stage for what was to follow.

A convoy of eighteen army vehicles transporting a contingent of four dozen troops from the theater of action close to the Line of Control, trundled along a narrow weather-beaten road towards the safety of their base camp, that was about fifty kilometers away. Negotiating the damaged roads that the unmerciful climatic conditions dispensed unrelentingly, overwhelming constant attempts by teams of dedicated repairmen to keep the transportation arteries in a usable state, was compounded by the threat of terrorist ambushes from unexpected quarters. The transit routine involved checking every stretch to be traversed for improvised explosive devices embedded along the path. This caused to greatly limit the pace of movement and render it highly arduous and dangerous.

It was during one such investigative pause that the probable threat transformed into a potentially devastating certainty. Terrorists had concealed themselves well at a sharp road-bend among the snow-lined foliage of the thick undergrowth lining the path. As the soldiers completed their explosive-detection-routine and were returning to their vehicles, there was a fusillade of bullets licking their heels. Havildar Gabbar had ventured the farthest and hence was the last to take cover behind the lead vehicle. Though he made it to his intended destination unscathed sprinting backwards, two bullets ricocheted off the vehicle's side and hit him in the stomach. He collapsed. As was his wont in such situations, he involuntarily hummed the regimental tune in an undertone, through clenched teeth, reassuring himself that all will be well soon. The soldiers successfully subdued the challenge from the enemy and rushed their injured colleague to the command hospital.

Gabbar's premonition about his injury, wasn't wrong. There was only an intriguing twist to it. He lay anesthetized on the operating table awaiting surgery to remove the bullets embedded in his body when the doctors concluded that disturbing them will adversely affect his spine, paralyzing him. The only option open to him was to carry the bullets for life and hope they never got dislodged on their own while he lived. He took this medically imposed condition in his stride, thoroughly realizing for the first time, the physical and emotional travails of his late father, an ex-serviceman, who had lost both his legs to frostbite and resulting gangrene in the line of duty in the Himalayan heights. The army supported his recovery, as it always did with anyone of their own. However, Havildar Gabbar Singh was declared unfit for active duty any longer entailing - to his utter disappointment - the greatly diminished probability of further promotions, and of being engaged in assignments involving combat. Even the inspiring words of the regimental theme song could not dispel the depression that overtook him for a time following this incidence.

Being assigned to a benign officer in a capacity equivalent to that of a personal assistant, provided the despondent man just the kind of emotional support that he required to overcome this pessimism. The period of his sentimental recovery witnessed his evaluation of a host of perspectives in the context of his service record, served conditions, claims or denials of responsibilities to actions and consequences.

His friend's point of view on what was due to him from society, the administration, and the institution, would at times appear quite legitimate. The friend's surmise followed one logical line of thought that whether or not Gabbar was involved in a decision making capacity or been confronted face-to-face by the enemy, the fact that he was injured in a recorded encounter made him eligible for a citation at least.

His superior officer, though sympathetic about his enforced disability, reminded him that the conditions of his conscription only ensured certain privileges offered in return for the unquestioning loyalty of the employee. The privileges offered did not include citations for being dutiful.

Though not overly devout, Gabbar nevertheless would periodically seek the advice of the head of a religious grouping at his village. The old headman had told him that destiny directs events and every event happens for a purpose whose consequences none can fathom.

Time expanding his perceptional horizon, Gabbar realized that truth lay hidden somewhere in between these points of view. He had been true to the vow that he had taken long ago and that made him feel sufficiently worthy of being alive. For him, that seemed good enough.

Questions & Answers


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • profile image

        Suresh srinivasan 

        3 weeks ago

        I truly enjoyed the piece, very well written. It is like living the Bhagwat Gita in real life. You need to perform your duty and the fruits of action are not in your hands. Accept your destiny.

      • profile image

        Shradha Ahuja 

        3 weeks ago

        Truly inspiring. So well narrated.

      • profile image

        Poornima Subramanian 

        4 weeks ago

        Excellent story of Gabbar .Beautifully written.

      • profile image


        5 weeks ago

        Brilliantly crafted story of Gabbar. Another good one Ram.

      • profile image


        5 weeks ago

        Interesting, wonderfully written

      • profile image

        CR Ramesh 

        5 weeks ago

        Interesting read. Thanks for sharing.

      • profile image

        S Srinivasan 

        5 weeks ago

        Wonderfully written as always and very poignant too! Thanks.

      • profile image

        V Savitha 

        5 weeks ago

        Very well written.


      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

      Show Details
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)