Thursday, 3 November 2016

My Name is Naveen and I am 34 years old....

After my stint of being stateless in a country I thought I belonged (India) and hanging state of affairs with my country of Birth (Singapore), I was given the choice to accept my citizenship in Singapore with a National Service obligation.  For those of you who don't know Singapore National Service is compulsory for boys after 18 to be full fledged citizens... it's a 2 year process and really exciting.

I was 34 at that time. I celebrated my 34th birthday in India and I had told everyone around I was going 18 and my cake had an 18 year old candle.....

On the 3rd of Feb I joined the National Service camp. The volunteer who came near our car as we got off told me that family can move to the viewing area. I told him I was a recruit as it is called and the poor boy was stuck. I was ushered in to the waiting area.

I was seated with boys who looked absolutely innocent by the age. There I am sitting a corrupted 18 year old man. I did not look naive I am sure but yes I acted naive.

We had to fall suit for the oath. And that’s when I lost a few heart beats of mine. A captain with a bass voice walks in and says to stand in attention.  Probably after school that was the first time I stood in attention. Never mind but I did. The next sentence I hope I had not heard it as my pulse rate went at 144.. “I WANT ALL OF YOU TO BEHAVE WELL AND SING ALONG WITH THE NATIONAL ANTHEM WHEN IT IS PLAYED DURING YOUR OATH TAKING." Also included was I will check your mouth movements? I am not joking I thought Life as Naveen Manomohanan ends there as at that point I had not even heard my National Anthem fully, except for my mother humming it at times.

The introduction went passed and then played the National Anthem "Majula Singapura" it was lovely and I was desperately trying to move my lips to at least get somewhere near to the language. OMG, I realised I could be a good actor.

We were marched into a room were I realised I was in a battalion which was called Bravo... I was listening to the introduction I am Muhammed Imran 20 years old. I am Avinash and I am 21 and there is came in I am Naveen Manomohanan and I am 34 years old .... Perfect Silence and I said I was married and I am going to have a baby soon. My platoon called me POPS. ... and I became a premature dad to 46 and before I could know the 47th my own son joined the team.... 

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