Being with my platoon mates always evoke a feeling of belonging — they seemed to contain certain dynamics that make me feel especially close to them.
Is it their bitchiness? The same bitterness about our common suffering under inefficiency?
Whatever it was, I might never know, for I can feel the fabric of our unity unfolding, maddeningly thread by thread. What started out as a platoon of almost 50 people last March is now a ghost of its former shell with 17. It could be 16, if one of the guys manage to get his downgrade letter, 15 for the one down from [> dengue <].
The inexorable slide into decline started soon around May last year, when it was revealed that slightly less than half of the platoon actually belonged to another division, and that they were posted in here only to train for their Advanced Infantry Training phase.
And so, with a little bit of regret, we parted ways. The rest of us subsequently went for the vocation course in June (if you read the archives around then, you will know all about it). During that period, three more guys dropped out, and subsequently left us. 2 more followed, after finishing the tough 9 day summary exercise and passing out with their own jungle hats.
3 more new blood came in, and of that, only 1 has finished the vocation course. 1 returned to where he came from (I guess he felt more welcomed there), and the other is currently down with dengue fever. Now, 1 more is struggling to cope with his leg problem, and may downgrade soon, reducing yet again the number of people.
I have not seen such a high drop out rate in any other platoons, either Support, or the other rifle companies. Not only has it affected me psychologically (I feel quite distressed that so many people are leaving), but the rest of us also have to do more work to compensate. Everyday, we look in envy at other platoons with spare men lounging around. Even my platoon sergeant seems to have lost some heart in what he had tried to built:
He scouted (no pun intended) for us back when we were still in BMT. Young and green, he promised that being a scout would be an extremely honourable thing to do. The whole training shed of short-listed candidates whom volunteered their names vested their trust in him.
So far, even though the rest of us try very hard, we still fail to meet expectations — perhaps they would have done better with the other batch whom were posted out: they seem to be physically stronger. The brigade inspection found us to be wanting in many skills, such as intraveinous injection, vehicle technical data, tools.
It turned out that there was much that we did not know that we needed to know, so we did crash courses for everything. That seems to fray tempers more. Nowadays, my days in the bunk are marked by quarrels, occassionally punctuated by a few items hurled about, while I lie on the bed, hoping to sleep through it all. Intolerance to other people have led to snide remarks, and many open insults have already broken out in the open. People to people relations have not reached such a low before. If quarreling is a sign of care for one another, I might wish they start to be a little more indifferent about our differences.
Now that I might feel better about it after typing it out, I must add that I am a natural optimist. This happening cannot bode well for the integrity of this platoon. Dare I say that we all need some serious counselling.
Here's hoping that things will be better when we return our pagers, and end our stand-by duties.