The Jolly Good “Terrible Fellow”
HUMOR IN UNIFORM
I made friends with many “Fauji” Doctors of the Army Medical Corps (AMC) — mostly on ships — a few ashore — especially during my stints at IAT Pune.
I have described a few in my series of stories: “DOC DANEEKAS IN UNIFORM”
Of all the “Fauji” Doctors I came across — the most unforgettable character of them all was Colonel “N” — aka — Doctor “Terrible Fellow”.
Dear Readers — from my Humour in Uniform Archives — here is the hilarious story of “Terrible Fellow” — once more — for you to enjoy…
UNFORGETTABLE DOCTOR IN UNIFORM — A “TERRIBLE” FELLOW
A Spoof By Vikram Karve
The “Jolly Good” “Terrible Fellow”
This happened long back — around 42 years ago — in the year 1980.
After serving an enjoyable few years at Sea on frontline warships whose base port was Bombay (Mumbai) — I was banished to a Training Establishment located at a desolate place in the back of beyond for instructional duties — to teach and train Officers undergoing the Specialization Course.
For a carefree bachelor like me — it was a big disappointment — since I was expecting a shore appointment in Mumbai and looking forward to having a good time in “maximum city” Bombay (Mumbai).
However — a well-connected coursemate pulled strings and I was appointed in that desolate place.
We were only two Bachelor Officers living on the first floor cabins of the sea facing “staff block” of the Wardroom Officers’ Mess — Colonel “N” and myself.
Of course — I was a true unmarried bachelor — whereas Colonel “N” was a forced bachelor — a married bachelor — as his wife was working in Mumbai — where she lived along with their school-going children.
Colonel “N” was a Doctor — an Army Medical Corps (AMC) Officer — who was commanding the local Military Hospital (MH).
The Military Hospital (MH) was located inside our Naval Establishment — a “Stone Frigate” — a Navy Training Base located in the back-of-beyond.
It was a small hospital — with just a handful of doctors and staff.
In fact — the Military Hospital (MH) comprised just a few decrepit barracks located in a rather desolate corner of the Naval Base.
The only bright thing about the MH was its Commanding Officer — Colonel “N” — who was a most jovial chap.
“N” was a Keralite — a Malayali — and — like most officers from Kerala — he was a down-to-earth hardworking officer — very sincere in his job.
Though he was a Senior Colonel — “N” did not pull rank.
Despite being the Commanding Officer of a Military Hospital — Colonel “N” did not exhibit unnecessary airs — he did not have an inflated ego — and we all liked his rather amiable disposition.
There was quite a substantial age difference of almost 25 years between us.
Colonel “N” was in his late 40’s — and I was in my early 20’s.
But despite this — he had such a likable nature — that we became close friends.
What we liked most about Colonel “N” was that he was not rank conscious.
“Rank has got nothing to do with Medicine…” Colonel “N” would bellow at fellow Military Doctors who tried to pull rank over their juniors and patients — soldiers, sailors and airmen — who came for medical treatment to the MH from nearby Military Bases.
Every evening Colonel “N” and Me would sit on the lawns of the Wardroom Officers’ Mess — or on the terrace of the staff block — and polish off a bottle of Rum — drinking late into the night — sometimes until the wee hours of the morning.
I remember one occasion — when Colonel “N” was in high spirits — topped up with alcohol to the hilt.
Suddenly — Colonel “N” pointed towards the horizon — and he said excitedly to me:
“Look — there is a fire over there — maybe some ship — an oil tanker — is on fire.”
I looked at the distant eerie orange glow.
Soon — the sun broke the horizon — and we realized that it was sunrise.
Yes — it was no fire — but sunrise — as dawn broke — and the first rays of the sun emanated from just below the horizon causing an orange glow in the sky.
We had been drinking Rum the entire night — right until dawn.
Colonel “N” and I enjoyed our drinking sessions.
We both liked to talk — and we had many yarns to tell — especially Colonel “N” — who regaled me with his never-ending “Medical Anecdotes” and “Army Stories”.
The most remarkable feature about Colonel “N” was his amusing diction.
At times — his choice of words was hilarious.
If Colonel “N” liked someone — he would say:
“He is a Terrible Fellow…”
Spoken in his typical jovial Kerala accent — with Colonel “N” rolling the two “R’s” in the word “Terrible” on his tongue — his signature phrase — “He is a Terrible Fellow” — had a rather delightful effect.
AN AMUSING EPISODE
“VIP” Terrible Fellow
One day — at a meeting — our Naval Base Commanding Officer (CO) asked Colonel “N” whether he knew anything about the General from Army Medical Corps (AMC) — who was coming down from Headquarters to inspect the Military Hospital (MH).
“Oh yes — I know the General quite well — he is a Terrible Fellow…” said Colonel “N”, in his usual candid style.
On hearing this statement by Colonel “N” — that the General coming for the Inspection was a “Terrible Fellow” — our career-conscious CO got quite anxious.
For our CO — who was a Technical Commodore who had never commanded anything in his life before — this was a crucial “do-or-die” appointment — which would determine his further promotion to Admiral.
So — our CO was extremely anxious that nothing should go wrong during his tenure.
Strictly speaking — the Military Hospital (MH) was an independent entity — but still it was located inside the Naval Establishment — and our CO did not want to take any chances.
Our CO was quite wary of the apparent easygoing ways and seemingly “couldn’t-care-less” attitude of Colonel “N” — who was the Officer Commanding Military Hospital or “OC MH”.
So — as the date for the inspection approached — our CO became extremely tense and jittery — especially since Colonel “N” had told him that the General coming for the Inspection was a “Terrible Fellow”.
Our CO was very nervous and terribly paranoid that should something go wrong with the inspection of the MH — he may inadvertently end up getting a “black mark” which may ruin his career.
So — our CO took personal charge — and pulled out all stops to ensure that the inspection was a success.
Our CO would personally take rounds of the MH every morning.
In fact — our CO would spend hours planning, supervising, rehearsing and micromanaging every aspect of the impending inspection.
On the other hand — Colonel “N” seemed to be quite nonchalant.
Actually Colonel “N” was the OC MH — and he should have been the one “sweating” for the inspection of his MH — but he seemed to be cool and relaxed.
In fact — our CO had planned the itinerary meticulously down to the smallest detail — since our CO did not want the MH to be caught on the wrong foot by the “Terrible Fellow” AMC General — who was coming for the inspection.
One evening — I commented to Colonel “N” that our CO seemed to be interfering a bit too much in the affairs of the MH.
Colonel “N” smiled at me — and — in his usual unperturbed manner — he said to me:
“Well — if your CO wants to do my job — he is most welcome to do so…”
On Inspection Day — there was a big surprise.
Contrary to our CO’s expectations — the “Terrible Fellow” AMC General — he turned out to be a most “Jolly Good Fellow”.
Yes — the AMC General was a most informal, unfussy and cheerful inspecting officer — and he carried out the inspection in a most jovial and relaxed manner — exchanging witty jokes and banter with our CO, the staff, the patients and all of us in the entourage.
In the evening — there was a cocktail party to “celebrate” the successful inspection.
Our nonplussed CO was looking quite sternly at Colonel “N” who was thoroughly enjoying his drinks along with the “Terrible Fellow” AMC General (Inspecting Officer)
Suddenly — a happily drunk Colonel “N” looked at our CO.
Colonel “N” pointed towards the AMC General — and — Colonel “N” said loudly to our CO:
“Sir — I told you that our General is a “Terrible Fellow” — didn’t I…?”
ONE MONTH LATER
Matrimonial “Matchmaker” Terrible Fellow
Around one month later — one morning — Colonel “N” summoned me to his office — which was quite unusual.
Colonel “N” had said it was something urgent — so I rushed to his office in the MH.
“Hey — there was a matrimonial enquiry about you…” he said.
“From who…?” I asked — quite surprised — as I was not aware of any matchmaking moves.
“I just got a call from one of ex-bosses. He is a Brigadier in the AMC who is posted in Pune. He is a Maharashtrian like you. He is looking for a suitable match for his daughter…” Colonel “N” said.
“Well — I don’t know anything about this…” I said.
Colonel “N” looked at me — and he said to me:
“You know how these matchmaking things work — by word of mouth.
Someone back home must have told the Brigadier or his wife about you.
They must have found out that you are posted here.
So the Brigadier must have thought it best to ask me — the nearest AMC Officer — about you.”
“So Sir — what did you tell the Brigadier…?” I asked Colonel “N”.
Colonel “N” looked at me with warm affection — and he said to me:
“I told the Brigadier that you are a “Terrible Fellow”.
Yes — in fact — I like you so much — so I told him that you are a “Terribly Terrible Fellow”…”
Those momentous words of “praise” put an immediate end to the rather promising matrimonial prospect for me.
And — there were no further inquiries about me from the AMC Brigadier.
A FEW YEARS LATER
“Retired” Terrible Fellow
A few years later — one evening — I met Colonel “N” on Colaba Causeway.
Colonel “N” had retired from the Army — and now — he was working at a leading hospital in Mumbai.
I invited Colonel “N” over to my ship for a drink.
We sat in our ship’s wardroom — drinking Scotch Whisky — and talking of the good old days.
The Captain sent down his compliments to me in the wardroom.
He wanted me to bring along my guest Colonel “N” for a drink to the Captain’s cabin.
After we were seated in the Captain’s Cabin — drinks in hand — the Captain looked at Colonel “N” for some time.
Then — our Captain said to Colonel “N” :
“Sir — do you remember me…?
I was once admitted to Military Hospital (MH) Kirkee.
And — you were the Medical Officer who was in-charge of the Officers’ Ward…”
Colonel “N” looked carefully at the Captain.
Suddenly — his eyes lit up — and Colonel “N” said to our Captain:
“Oh — so you are the “Terrible Fellow” who used to disappear without a bloody “outpass” to romance with my pretty Nursing Officer…?
What a “Terrible Fellow” you were…!!!
You had a bloody leg fractured — but you were still doing “hanky-panky” with the Nurse — even when you were admitted to hospital…!!!”
“Sir — we continued our romance and a few years later — I got married to her…” my Captain said.
On hearing this — Colonel “N” remarked to our Captain:
You two got married…?
I must say you are truly a very “Terrible Fellow”.
And I did not even imagine that — even my nurse — she too would turn out to be such a “Terrible Fellow”…”
It was hilarious to hear of their escapades.
It was almost midnight by the time we finished — and all of us were quite happily drunk.
As a mark of respect to Colonel “N” — the Captain personally came to see him off the ship’s gangway.
The Officer of the Day (OOD) — the Duty Petty Officer (PO) — and the Quartermaster — all the Gangway Staff were smartly lined up at the gangway.
As Colonel “N” crossed the ship’s gangway — everyone saluted.
Suddenly — Colonel “N” turned around.
And — Colonel “N” shouted jovially to the OOD and the Gangway Staff:
“Let me tell you one thing.
You are very lucky.
Your Captain is a “Terrible Fellow”.
In fact — your Captain is an “Utterly Terrible Fellow”…”
Next morning — rather contrite — I went to the Captain to explain.
I said to my Captain:
“Sir — actually Colonel “N” meant that you are a “Jolly Good Fellow”…”
“I know…” my Captain said, “And — by the way — Colonel “N” rang me up in the morning to thank me for the hospitality. And do you know what he said about you…?”
“What did he say about me — Sir…?” I asked quite curious.
“He told me that you are a “TERRIBLY Terrible Fellow”…” the Captain said.
I was wondering what to say — when my Captain suddenly broke into laughter.
Laughing — my Captain said to me:
“Well — “Terrible Fellow” is bad enough.
“UTTERLY Terrible Fellow” is worse.
But — he called you a “TERRIBLY Terrible Fellow”.
Ha Ha — isn’t that the ultimate compliment…?”
“Yes, Sir…” I said.
And — both of us — my Captain and I — we had a hearty laugh.
Copyright © Vikram Karve
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© vikram karve., all rights reserved.
- This story is a fictional spoof, satire, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
- This story and all stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in this story and all stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
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Copyright © Vikram Karve (all rights reserved)
Link to my original post in my Blog Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2017/06/humor-in-uniform-colonel-terrible-fellow.html
This is a revised version of my story TERRIBLE FELLOW written by almost 9 years ago in Jan 2013 and earlier posted by me Vikram Karve at 8/28/2013 01:33:00 PM on Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve (this blog) at urls: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2013/08/terrible-fellow-humor-in-uniform.html and http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2015/02/the-jolly-good-terrible-fellow.htmland http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2015/10/humor-in-uniform-doctor-terrible-fellow.html and http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2016/05/humor-in-uniform-terrible-doctor.html and http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2017/01/doctor-terrible-fellow-unforgettable.html and https://karve.wordpress.com/2017/11/08/doctor-terrible-fellow-humor-in-uniform/ and https://karve.wordpress.com/2021/01/29/doctor-terrible-fellow/ and https://karve.wordpress.com/2021/12/19/humor-in-uniform-terrible-fellow/ etc
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.