MUMBAI: A colonel retired from 25 Madras Regiment has come all the way from Canada to attend the wedding of his former sahayak's son.
The friendship between the officer and the sahayak is in contrast to some recent cases of the sahayaks being misused or abused by officers.
For Col G S Ghuman, all it took was a call from his former 'buddy' - as sahayaks are known in the Army – inviting him to attend his son's wedding.
Havildar Balagowda Raigowda Patil worked as the Colonel's 'buddy' for almost two decades, before the two retired from the Army around 10 years ago.
"He (Patil) is family. How could I say no? I had to attend his son's wedding. So here I am, in India," Col Ghuman said.
The feeling was reciprocated by Patil, who said, "Saab's mother treated me like her fourth son. Saab also never treated me as a junior but like a brother."
"I was with 'saab' since the IPKF days in Sri Lanka. I never felt humiliated as a 'buddy'," Patil, who retired in 2006, said.
Col Ghuman retired the next year. Both were in 25 Madras Regiment, where Patil's son, who got married recently, is posted as an Army jawan.
The wedding took place at Patil's native place, 50 km from Belgaum.
Col Ghuman also used this trip to reconnect with former jawans in his unit, and travelled to places like Mangalore, Kochi and Hyderabad to meet them and their families, before flying back to Canada.
Called by various names like orderly and batman, the sahayak/buddy are an intrinsic part of an Army officer's life.
"A 'buddy' forms a strong relationship with his officer that remains even after retirement. A wrong idea is being put across that combat manpower is being misused for the benefits of officers and their families," he said.
In army parlance, the buddy system means pairing of two soldiers during operations and peace time. The system ensures that the two take care of each other during war and peace.
Last month, after a Lance Naik posted a video complaining about the Sahayak system, the Army has stipulated that buddies should not be detailed for looking after pets, children and also should not be assigned for washing private vehicles of officers.