Ulcer Lake

Capt. Dinesh Sharma of the Commandos dragged on the remnants of his cigarette. He dropped the stub on the damp ground. It sizzled and went out. It was his first day in his new posting – Bangalore – on transfer from an obscure Himalayan post – and here he was preparing for the next morning’s amphibian exercises.

Capt. Sharma was looking longingly at the lake. Ulsoor Lake, he mused, city attraction, tourist spot… his reveille was interrupted by a drone. It sounded like an advancing Mig 25. Sharma came to the realisation that Mig 25s do not generally drone around one’s ears.

Completely unused to swatting mosquitoes, he succeeded in swatting himself on his ears causing temporary hearing disability.

As well as mental impairment it turned out, because why else would Capt. Sharma have stripped down to his bare essentials and dived into the cool, green waters.

GREEN WATER! He exclaimed to himself, arriving too late at the conclusion that green water in a lake situated in the city centre generally indicated that the city sewage was dumped into the lake.

Manfully, he swam out to one of the lake’s islands. He saw the name of the island in the form badly painted signboard – ‘Pasina Ganj’ (Sweat Island) – he had visions of overweight tourists sweating copiously on each other. How aesthetic a name, he mused just before sickness took over. After he had deposited the contents of a late lunch into a little corner, Capt. Sharma dove back into the pool to try and make it back.

This time he took a detour to the far end of the lake. He swam right by one of the inlets.

In the process of extricating himself from the weeds that had wrapped themselves around his ankles, he swallowed more than a mouthful of Bangalore’s prime tourist attractions.

Capt. Dinesh Sharma, a Commando Special Force #1, on deputation to the Madras Engineering Group made it back to the camp that night… but only just.

The Command Hospital diagnosed his condition as acute food poisoning.

He never made it to the amphibian exercises the next morning… or ever.

At least, he was given an honourable discharge.

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