Driving License of an unsung hero of World War II

Rabin Prasad Kalita *

 Driving License of an unsung hero of World War II
Driving License of an unsung hero of World War II

Though my dad was a brilliant student but his father Dhaniram wanted him to assist his other two brothers in farming at their huge agricultural land. Farming was the main occupation to live oneís life in those days. Dad was not at all interested in farming but wanted to continue with his studies, aiming to work in defense.

It was he who tried to come out of the age old threadbare believes. ďWhich big man will you become by studying, if you do farming then only you will get fedĒ, was a common dialogue in villages in early nineteen thirties. Most of them had a stereotype musings. That's why dadís offbeat perception didnít attract others.

Rests of his two brothers were not happy watching him go to school while the others worked in the fields. They even urged my grandpa to cease his study and put him to work along with them. They further said that their brother will not learn anything associated to crop growing as the days were passing on.

That was the need of the hour. The reason behind was to shoulder a percentage of responsibilities from his brothers to reduce their workload during the peak time. Practically this was not possible to sustain dadís study. His pleads didnít work out to be in his favour. Finally dad had to end up his high school education soon after he faced his class IX examination and joined his brothers working full time in the farm.

Thenceforth, an indomitable crave to fetch higher education once, got buried. Before whom he shall speak, who will believe? No one in the family knew what was going on in his mind. He had to accept his fate dumping his aspirations somewhere in his heart forever.

Dad started working in the meadow, right from mowing, sowing and harvesting under the supervision of his brothers. But he did everything halfheartedly. He lamented his displeasure day and night. Secretly he tried to find out some other means of earning for his living. He reckoned, farming was not a cup of tea for him.

Hence, after a couple of years, he along with one of his friends decided to run away to Dimapur to earn their living. But when they discussed about the expenditure to be incurred for their stay at Dimapur until they get anything to do, his friend dropped the idea to proceed due to the paucity of cash.

Dad also couldnít lend him as he too somehow managed to fulfill his needs. My steadfast Dad eventually left for Dimapur alone because he was obsessed with an unbending commitment.

Reaching Dimapur, he got acquaintance with an Indian soldier who had been working in British Indian Territorial Army. The soldier was happy to learn about my dadís education. He requested dad to go along with him to Kohima if he wishes to.

Dad was desperately in need of a job, so he followed his friend to the Naga Hills Deputy Commissionerís office, Kohima. On his friendís recommendation, dad was put to work as an assistant in DC office in the year 1939.

He also suggested dad to acquire a driving license as early as possible so that, he could apply for vacancies against driverís posts in Territorial Army stationed in Kohima. A driving license was necessitated by the British Indian Territorial Army to drive a vehicle.

Therefore, it was considered as a qualification. Moreover, his friend assured him to liaise with the authority for his appointment. Accordingly, dad was advised to go to Nowgong (Now it is renamed as Nagaon) to learn driving and obtain a license.

Somehow he managed to learn driving stealthily in the commissionerís office itself by having tied up with a driver. After a year, dad had overwhelmingly set out his journey to Nowgong during his leave in the year 1940. He intended to get hold of the coveted driving license hastily.

Consequently he approached the Nowgong Road Transport Authority under British administration and applied a Public Service Driving License. Very seldom one needed driving license in nineteen forties. As told by dad, there was hardly any vehicle plying on road. Driving test was not necessary for getting issued with a license. A couple of weeks later, he was issued with his Driving License bearing registration number only 62.

Happily he went back to Kohima and joined his office. A year went by thereafter without meeting his friend. During mid epoch of 1941, he happened to meet his soldier friend all of a sudden. They hurriedly exchange their gesture of glimpse, meeting each other out of the blue.

In between, papa expressed his wish to join in Territorial Army as he had his requisite driving license. Also he conveyed his dissatisfaction with the present job. He was fond of wearing uniforms which he had been aspiring for years. He liked to be called as a man in uniform.

His wish was fulfilled as he thought as if he was handpicked up and became a counted heads of Territorial Army in early 1941. He had been assigned with the duty of a heavy vehicle driver who was to carry troopsí from one place to another. An unprecedented help from his friend proved to be a Good Samaritan.

But soon Dimapur and Kohima became hotspot for their strategic importance during World War II. Dad was called back to join with the British Indian allied forces. Advancement of mighty Japanese brigade was a challenge in front of the Allied Forces.

Japanese forces selected this best route offensively from Burma to India knowing its significance. But after a few weeks of fierce battle, they were thwarted by the allied Indian brigades. They were driven back with heavy loss.

Shortly after the World War II, dad left the force and came back to Guwahati where he managed to ride a private transport. He could not keep himself fit to continue his service because of the dire bloodsheds he witnessed of both sides during the war.

He broke seeing his brothers lying dead on the battle field. Even he lost his soldier friend in the battle who rescued him in his critical time had made his heart void. He became weak mentally and somehow he wanted to push off from the force.

He left his service from the British Indian Allied Forces in 1945. With lots of ups and down, he had to change many occupations time and again until he retired as a senior telephone operator from the Electricity Board of Assam.

His precious legacy in a form of driving license is made of pure brass metal, round in shape with a size of two and half inches diameter. The breath of this metal license is of two millimeters and it weighs about hundred grams. There is a loop at the top of the round for securing a ribbon to get that hanged on oneís neck while driving.

It was manufactured by Singhai Mojilal & Sons of Jubbulpore, (now it is known as Jabalpur) in Madhya Pradesh. This invaluable stuff is still with me and kept as a token of my dadís reminiscence.

Sometimes I tenderly take out this priceless property of an unsung hero of World War II, which refreshes my memories with ample amount of stories behind it, once narrated by him. My dad, Lakhi Kalita will ever remain as my superhero, though his triumph over the enemy could not be celebrated and gone unacknowledged.

* Rabin Prasad Kalita wrote this article for
The author is a freelance writer and presently working in Indian Audit and Accounts Department as a Senior Auditor at Maligaon, Guwahati, Assam.
The writer can be reached at rabin1966(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on April 28, 2020.

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