“Charming You!” - A Date with Mona Gill
Syed Ali Mujtaba
Well I am not a soldier, some of my friends are, I had nursed that desire to be a soldier at certain point of time in life but as it moved on the idea vanished into the blue. However, this again brushed my heart yesterday (May 23, 2008) when I heard Mr S. Muthiah, speaking about Inder Gill, one of the doyens of Indian army.
It was a story telling session at the British council Chennai, organized by the Association of British scholars, of which I am a member.
Mr Muthiah a living legend, a madras historian, was at his class when he was narrating the World War campaign from his book “Born to Dare” that chronicle Inder Gills life.
Since I did some reading and research on the British policy during the World War II, I could feel the punch in Mr Muthiah’s narration.
His talk was essentially centered on Inder Gill’s heroics in the Greece campaign; the blowing up of Gorgopotamos Bridge, the training of the resistance movement in Greece and other details.
Frankly, I had no clue about Inder Gill, so every word from his chronicler seemed amazing. Mr Muthiah was on a song describing Inder Gills life and times.
Inder Gill was born to a Sikh father and a Scottish mother and grew up in England. He had major part of is career in the British army, and participated in the Greece and Italy campaign during the Word War II.
When the war was drawing to close, he moved to India and became the first Indian trainer at the IMA academy, Dehradun. During the pre Partition days, he was chum of Pakistani General Tikka Khan and along with him supervised the division of the British Army’s assets between India and Pakistan.
Inder was in the thick of action during the Jammu and Kashmir raid in 1948. He was there in action in 1965 and 1971 wars. Inder was described as the architect of the 1971 operation as he used his experience of trainer during the WWII, to train the Mukthi Bahni troops to lead guerilla warfare in East Pakistan.
With a baggage of war heroics behind him, Inder became a legend and many interesting facts about him was brought out by Mr Muthia during hour long talk.
The most interesting part was Monoa Gill; wife of Inder Gill sat through the entire story telling session. Lady Gill must be in 70s still looks as gracious as ever. When Muthiah told the audience that she was an ace para-trooper, the youth in her frail face sparkled.
I was watched her with fascination, as she was listening to her husband’s heroics described by his chronicler.
After the talk I tried to pick up a conversation with her by wishing her Good Evening. She was quick to acknowledge, and asked me whether I knew these stories before. I feigned ignorance and she said nothing wrong, you are not an army guy. I told her it was quite an education to me to know some one as great as Mr Inder Gill.
Lady Gill said, she feels very nostalgic when such talks were organized and she misses her husband much who left her many years ago. You see I am growing old too; I am not keeping good health. For a moment I had to act pope to her. I tried to sermonize that every thing that’s born in this world has to die one day; no one can escape that fate.
However, there are certain individuals like Inder Gill for whom William Shakespeare has especially written these lines; “His life was gentle and the elements so mixed in him that Nature might stand up and say to all the world ‘This was a man’!” Hearing it, she exclaimed, “Charming You!” It’s a while now; those words still rings my ears.
Please check up the link to read the review of the book “Born to Dare” by S Muthiah.
http://www.newindpr ess.com/sunday/ sundayitems. asp?id=SEB200804 19041941&eTitle=Books+ %26+Literature&rLink=0