THE MOVING MEDICAL MIRACLES I had gone to Bhopal on a short stint of leave. The Corps HQ was located in Bhopal. The Corps Commander knew me and so he called me over to his office for a cup of tea and chat. At the appointed hour, I was ushered into the hallowed chambers of the Corps Commander. I was quite apprehensive, not because he was a very senior officer, but because he had a very odd and cutting sense of humour. Therefore, while I may have been delighted to have the Corps Commander calling me for just a chat, as his Colonel Military Secretary put it, I was a trifle apprehensive that this chat would be an exercise in dripping sarcasm of some omission or commission that I may have inadvertently done or not done in my official or unofficial capacity. The Corps Commander was most cordial. Coffee was served and he actually was doing small talk about life in general including a gentle reminder of the dinner my wife and I were to attend at his place at 8 PM Indian Standard Time and not Indian Stretchable Time. He continued to chat with the serenity and deadpan of a Chinese Buddha. The emotions of the Indian Buddha, in comparison, could at least be discerned. Therefore, it was difficult to gauge the Corps Commander's thought or his physical state. As I was trying to gauge the Corps Commander, he gave a deep sigh. It was as if he was immensely tired and that the onerous task of heading the large Corps was wearing him down. It was surprising since nothing could ever wear him down. He was reputed to be the coolest cat amongst senior officers because he sincerely believed in one theory i.e. if you don't have wings, then why flap ? Thus, the deep sigh, was extraordinary; and that too coming from such a person who could go off to sleep during moments of serious business and when asked if he was sleeping, he could calmly state that he was merely meditating, the soft snore being only a metaphysical clash of temple bells with the wail of a conch shell in the truest tradition of the Indian Puja rituals. Therefore, I was forced to venture, "Not feeling well, sir?" "How did you guess it?" "I didn't guess it, sir. You don't look under the weather and so I am surprised that you proffered such a deep sigh". "Thank God it was only a sigh. Air can pass through many orifices. By the way Roy, do you know why most of the Major Generals who have just relinquished command like your Divisional Commander [GOC] will become Lieutenant Generals next year?" This was a real extraordinary bit of news. Even though I was rather fond of my erstwhile GOC, Major General SP, but such a quick promotion was hierarchically extraordinary. And anyway, the rapid promotion of my GOC had not the remotest connection with any illness of the Corps Commander even if the Corps Commander was not at his pinkest best in health. My brows had wrinkled querulously. The Corps Commander continued, "I reckon the quick promotion is the order of the day. After all, all Corps Commanders are moving medical miracles and should actually be medically boarded out and be shown the door". I was aghast. If all Corps Commanders were medically unfit and sick, then why have they been promoted? Also, how come all the present Corps Commanders were a sick bunch? It was indeed a most unusual coincidence! "If I may ask, sir, how come that all the Corps Commanders are a sick lot?" "Roy, it is like this. Not only are the present Corps Commanders a sick lot, all Corps Commanders, Army Commanders and Chiefs throughout history, like all in high offices in all facets of professional life are or were a sick lot". Now, the musing of the Corps Commander was indeed getting amusingly crazier. Ramblings of a genius on the thin red line of sanity? "Extraordinary. Would you care to amplify, sir?" Remember, one cannot ask senior officers to explain. They only 'amplified' after the junior made a "submission". "It is like this, Roy. All Corps Commanders, like all senior officers in government service, have no spine. Further, they have no guts. Their hearts are similar to that of the chicken and thus chicken hearted, but what is just not acceptable is that they suffer from meningitis". Meningitis? Collective meningitis? "Meningitis, sir?" "Yes, Roy, they all have swollen heads!" That really floored me. You can't beat the General in macabre wit!