Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans' Day

In honor of Veterans' Day, a post from the old Frank's Poodle blog ...

Yesterday the other attorney called and asked his Secretar (the man is still around, folks!) to bring him a bottle of water. The attorney was in court. And, apparently, thirsty.

I relayed the story to Frank who said that maybe he should start calling him Gunga Din.

For those of you who are not familiar with the Rudyard Kipling poem, it's posted at the end of this entry. I am familiar with it, because it's one of Frank's favorite inside "jokes".

Frank's older brother was killed in World War II in the South Pacific somewhere. Frank did a search for his name on the Internet once, and found a website someone had made with recollections of his time serving in the South Pacific during WWII. This man had written about a "country boy from Tennessee" who knew the words to every single poem and song that you could throw at him. One of his favorites was Gunga Din.

Frank had also read that his brother was fascinated with tracers, which Frank thinks might have been what killed him -- goofing around messing with those tracers.

His brother had stolen a bicycle from a Japanese man and would ride it all around, telling everybody he was going to send it to his younger brother back home.

He never did.

Frank said "Can you imagine? Sending someone a Japanese bicycle from the middle of the South Pacific?"

I'll bet he has tried to imagine what that Japanese bicycle must have looked like many times. I can hear it in his voice when he tells the story. Sad smile. Distant eyes. I also bet that he finds the image as amusing as I do ... a young man riding through the middle of a war on a Japanese bicycle. Probably reciting Gunga Din to all who could hear.

One time, Frank came into work on a Monday morning and told everyone he had bought a bicycle for a boy at the swap meet who had 2 older brothers and only 1 bicycle between them.

Frank said he just knew that littlest brother wasn't ever going to get to ride that bicycle.

Sometimes things happen that just fit.

And sometimes you discover that for a lot of people, life is a subconscious balancing act between reminiscence and redemption.

Gunga Din
By Rudyard Kipling

YOU may talk o' gin an' beer
When you're quartered safe out 'ere,
An' you're sent to penny-fights an' Aldershot it;
But if it comes to slaughter
You will do your work on water,
An' you'll lick the bloomin' boots of 'im that's got it.
Now in Injia's sunny clime,
Where I used to spend my time
A-servin' of 'Er Majesty the Queen,
Of all them black-faced crew
The finest man I knew
Was our regimental bhisti, Gunga Din.

It was "Din! Din! Din!
You limping lump o' brick-dust, Gunga Din!
Hi! slippy hitherao!
Water, get it! Panee lao!
You squidgy-nosed old idol, Gunga Din!"

The uniform 'e wore
Was nothin' much before,
An' rather less than 'arf o' that be'ind,
For a twisty piece o' rag
An' a goatskin water-bag
Was all the field-equipment 'e could find.
When the sweatin' troop-train lay
In a sidin' through the day,
Where the 'eat would make your bloomin' eyebrows crawl,
We shouted "Harry By!"
Till our throats were bricky-dry,
Then we wopped 'im 'cause 'e couldn't serve us all.

It was "Din! Din! Din!
You 'eathen, where the mischief 'ave you been?
You put some juldee in it,
Or I'll marrow you this minute,
If you don't fill up my helmet, Gunga Din!"

'E would dot an' carry one
Till the longest day was done,
An' 'e didn't seem to know the use o' fear.
If we charged or broke or cut,
You could bet your bloomin' nut,
'E'd be waitin' fifty paces right flank rear.
With 'is mussick on 'is back,
'E would skip with our attack,
An' watch us till the bugles made "Retire."
An' for all 'is dirty 'ide,
'E was white, clear white, inside
When 'e went to tend the wounded under fire!

It was "Din! Din! Din!"
With the bullets kickin' dust-spots on the green.
When the cartridges ran out,
You could 'ear the front-files shout:
"Hi! ammunition-mules an' Gunga Din!"

I sha'n't forgit the night
When I dropped be'ind the fight
With a bullet where my belt-plate should 'a' been.
I was chokin' mad with thirst,
An' the man that spied me first
Was our good old grinnin', gruntin' Gunga Din.

'E lifted up my 'ead,
An' 'e plugged me where I bled,
An' 'e guv me 'arf-a-pint o' water—green;
It was crawlin' an' it stunk,
But of all the drinks I've drunk,
I'm gratefullest to one from Gunga Din.

It was "Din! Din! Din!
'Ere's a beggar with a bullet through 'is spleen;
'E's chawin' up the ground an' 'e's kickin' all around:
For Gawd's sake, git the water, Gunga Din!"

'E carried me away
To where a dooli lay,
An' a bullet come an' drilled the beggar clean.
'E put me safe inside,
An' just before 'e died:
"I 'ope you liked your drink," sez Gunga Din.
So I'll meet 'im later on
In the place where 'e is gone—
Where it's always double drill and no canteen;
'E'll be squattin' on the coals
Givin' drink to pore damned souls,
An' I'll get a swig in Hell from Gunga Din!

Din! Din! Din!
You Lazarushian-leather Gunga Din!
Tho' I've belted you an' flayed you,
By the livin' Gawd that made you,
You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!

1 comment:

Jaffey said...

I miss Frank.

I mean I miss "Frank's Poodle."

That's almost the same thing isn't it?