Christmas is really about journeys, of all sorts. And for those of a literal bent, and a military brat background, it meant real journeys, but most of those were “postings”, when Dad was transferred from one end of India to another.
Except this one – a long time ago in 1971 – soon after the ’71 Bangladesh liberation. My Dad’s battalion had moved up to the Western border, to the Shakargarh sector where fierce tank battles had ensued, (and provided many an Army base with captured Patton tanks that were highly suitable for display, and playing war by hordes of Army brats).
Vijay Diwas occurred conveniently at the end of school, and I had barely arrived home in Babina, Jhansi, and Mum decided that we should pile into our car and drive up to meet Dad at the border. There might be wars, and deployments, trains were full, but the Burgess family was going to be together at Christmas.
In those days, the roads were not so good, and I can remember a four day journey from Jhansi. We took our army driver along, wearing his uniform to deter any bandits as we were driving through the Gwalior ravine, peak dacoit areas. The roads were pretty empty, so soon after the war, and for long stretches we were the only vehicle in sight. We were making good progress across Uttar Pradesh, stopping with relatives, or at Army accommodation, until we entered the Punjab.
A New Book is here
And you will find out more about these in that book, as well as more of our personal encounters.