'Shoes (or its absence) say a lot about a man' – is a one-liner I picked up during my school days. And that one-liner falls neatly in place in the case of colonel Reji Koduvath, the author of Suit Boot and Tie.
From a bare-legged lad running around, splashing water from the puddle-filled roads of Kerala villages, to attending drill in the clean, shiny shoes at a Sainik school in the foothills of Western Ghats and finally marching up and down in the boots of an army officer along the border lines – picking the right footwear could never have been more important.
In his first book, Koduvath chronicles his life from the carefree lad to a gun-wielding officer in the Indian Army. The book doesn’t follow any particular order and shifts narratives from the happenings back home in Kerala to the army camps on the hill tops – but both sides of the tale are told in the same cheerful tone that the colonel manages to keep alive till the end.
During a time, when there is much hue and cry over the alleged poor living standards of our jawans, Koduvath’s book offers a sneak peek into the army barracks. But rather than the horrifying picture that we get from the jawans' videos that have gone viral, the former army officer brings out the rather human side of the men in uniform. A musical night in the army camp and the kind gestures of high-ranking officers paint a rather amicable picture of those ferocious-looking, mustache-twirling seniors of the armed forces.
But he does remind us that a soldier doesn't march on his legs, but on his stomach! He couldn't have placed a better emphasis on the importance of having well-fed soldiers.
We also get to read about real-life heroes and their heroics that have time and again ensured that you and me stay safe inside our cozy homes.
However, in the book he also points out the need for the government to think from a defense point of view, while finalizing foreign policies. But a more detailed and insightful picture on troubles plaguing our security forces could have helped.
From 'ammi' to army jargons
Koduvath has taken special care to spell out each of the terms and usages for the benefit of all readers, irrespective of their native tongue, ethnicity or professional background. You will know what is an ‘ammi’ (stone grinder) even if you have never been to a Malayali household and you will have a better understanding of the army jargons.
Colonel Reji Koduvath’s book is as much as about a proud Indian Army officer to the nostalgic Keralite, who though miles away from his native land, lives by its spirits. An honest narrative that deserves a read.
Book: Suit Boot and Tie
Author: Colonel Reji Koduvath
Publisher: Whycubed Publishers
Price: Rs 225