June 12, 2004

As I stand on the threshold of freedom, I look back on the long, arduous journey and the many obstacles I've had to overcome to be at this point in time. 11th June 2004. I never thought I'd finally survive and grope my way through the darkness to this day. But so I have. Finally. After two and a half years of long waiting, I have done what my oppressors have asked of me and finally been released. It is like having served a jail term and getting released, only this time the mental scars aren't those of social rejection but merely psychological trauma. Being in the army hasn't been easy and although it hasn't been a particularly enjoyable experience, there are some people I would like to say a big 'thank you' to for making my stay in the Singapore Armed Forces that little more bearable.

1. 3SG(NS) Alwyn Tan

Being stranded on an offshore island like Tekong was never going to be easy and more so for someone who's not accustomed to living outside his home. Alwyn was one of my section commanders and despite the trend then of the Sergeants pulling ranks and coming down hard on us recruits, Alwyn showed us that the punishment did have a meaning and the torture did have a purpose to it. Hell, he even did some of the push-ups that he ordered us to complete. And for all the times he covered up for me when I did something wrong even when it meant he could get into trouble, I am truly grateful. Thank you Alwyn and if I ever do see you along the street, rest assured I will afford you the warmest greeting I can muster. You set the foundation for my transition in the Army.

2. LTA Ben Tan

My 2IC in Seletar East Ammo Depot. One of the most accomodating and friendly officers I've encountered to date. Funny thing was that our first meeting was a 'staring incident' and he did not initially have a good impression of me. However, when I did show him that I could complete the tasks assigned to me and generally fulfill my duties well, he did change his opinion of me and strived to help me in whatever way he could. I still remember the time when I was ordered to do area cleaning by a Second-Sergeant and Ben stepped in to tell that Sergeant that I was exempted from the area cleaning because I was completing a task for him. Haha. Damn, I was sniggering like crazy but had to pull a straight face. Even after I left SEAD, he still bothered to ask me how I was and find out whether I needed help whenever I called back. Really a good friend and definitely earned my respect as an officer.

3. LCP(NS) Bernard Chan

My colleague in SEAD and my mentor in the Army. Bernard was initially a tough task master and often reprimanded me for not remembering my work well enough. Although his methods were harsh, to be fair to him, they were extremely effective. Besides getting me acquainted with my work, Bernard also managed to protect me from my evil upperstudy Dinesh who constantly threw every piece of shit my way. Bernard often stepped in and held Dinesh back when Dinesh got out of line. The memories of him and me sharing a joke while working overtime are aplenty and I will definitely hold Bernard dear as one of the buddies I made in NS.

4. LCP(NS) Jeevan

Despite his queer outlook on life and often incomprehensible behaviour, I managed to accept Jeevan as a really good mentor as well. He showed me the ropes on politics in camp and surviving the backstabbers and bastards so well. I termed him affectionately as "JV" as did everyone in camp and one thing JV taught me about was the 'siege mentality'. He told me that everyone outside the walls of our CQ Store was against us and warned me to be careful about whatever I said or did that would induce jealousy or discontent. From then on I tread silently and carefully and gradually won over many of my previous enemies in camp. JV is without a doubt, one of the most intelligent and cunning people I have ever met. Well, not to mention that he's gay. And proud of it. Haha.

5. CPL(NS) Jonathan Foo

I remember Jonathan as one of the first people I met in camp. My initial impressions of him were an uptight and no-nonsense person but that quickly changed as I got to know him better through the months. Jonathan proved to be a really good friend that I could always count on despite being backstabbed and fucked so many times through my stay in 1st Transport. We would always huddle in his signal store discussing various gossips and politics in camp and discussing next modes of action. It was like our little battle strategy room and I really saw that Jonathan cares for those he accepts as friends. He has never let me down when I needed any help and yeah Jon, still rather sorry about you taking my place in the Change Of Command Parade. I seriously did not expect Ernie to react in that way. A really bosom friend and one I will continue to stay in contact with even after army.

6. CPL Muhammad Fadhil

Fadhil, Jonathan, Robin and me formed a nucleus of a bunch of friends who constantly looked out for one another in 1st Transport. Fadhil was the first person I learnt from in our branch and the first person I really formed a friendship with in 1st Transport after moving over from SEAD. He came across to me as a rather intelligent and yet religious individual whom I found hard to fault. We had our Friday 'saboh' sessions where we would call our friends and pose as different individuals hoping to get a laugh at their ridiculous reactions. It was real good fun and in a sense, I felt Fadhil and me were the only guys in our branch who got along really well. Will miss this guy after I'm gone but I sincerely wish him the best in his future endeavours. And yes Fadhil, if I find out you're lying to me and you got into NUS, you are going to get it from me. Whole day drama and drama, not sick of it?

7. CPL(NS) Patrick Wee

Without Patrick, I wouldn't have seen how truly cynical this world is. Patrick brought a refreshing change to the daily optimism that people constantly shower on their mundane lives. He astounded me when he shared with me many interesting insights he shared on life and how he managed to solve problems rather easily although perhaps not too tactfully. However, under his wing, I managed to get through most of our problems unscathed and unpunished. The many 'Special Ops' we did together and the times we had to cover our asses unethically. He was a really good mentor and efficient worker.

Well, I guess I'd be lying if I said that everyday of my NS life was miserable but the truth is, without these 7 people in it, I don't think I'd have pulled through so relatively unscathed. Once again, I thank you people and I hope that our paths will cross once again in the years to come. Till then, ORD loh!

Traveller fell apart at 2:01 AM

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