While at school, I used to marvel at the honour boards placed at the entrance of the Academic block. It had the names of the School Captains, Best Result for National Defence Academy (NDA) and Academics and the Sportsman of the year. These boards in effect displayed all what the school stood for- to train the cadets as all-rounders and to motivate them to join the NDA.
On the School Captains board, the name of Victor Duraisamy of 1965 batch stood out for me. It could be because the name was secular – Christian sounding first-name and a Hindu last-name. Or was it because it was the longest one on the board?
I joined the school in 1971, six years after Colonel Victor Duraisamy left the school and by that time he was already a Lieutenant in the Indian Army.
I remember Mrs Sheela Cherian saying during one of her classes about the Duraisamy brothers who were all-rounders in all aspects- academic, sports, extra-curricular activities and also music. The family was indeed gifted with music running in their blood.
After joining NDA and about seven years of army life, I heard that Victor Duraisamy and his younger brother were also commissioned to the very same Regiment – Artillery – that I was also commissioned. I always knew that I would meet them somewhere in my military career.
In 1989, I was attending the Long Gunnery Staff Course at School of Artillery Devlali. After a few months we had a new neighbour moving in – it was Colonel Victor Duraisamy. As the course was very intensive, we had only limited opportunity to interact. He was then responsible for training the Regiment of Artillery Band.
During the Artillery reunion, we were all invited to a symphony orchestra performance by the Regimental Band, It was conducted by none other than Colonel Victor Duraisamy. The poise of the movements of Victor and his baton really mesmerised me. It would have surely given Zubin Mehta a run for his money. At the end of the performance I complimented him for performing such complex symphonies – that too with military musicians – most hardly matriculates.
After the symphony, we were invited to his home for dinner and that was where I met Colonel Fredric Duraisamy, his younger brother. He was then with the Air Defence Artillery. Both the brothers and their children kept us all entertained with their musical talent for over two hours.
In 1997 while serving with the Army Headquarters at Delhi, Colonel Victor Duraisamy was also posted at the Military Training Directorate (MT Dte) of Army Headquarters. He was then responsible for charting out the musical training for all the Regimental Bands of the Indian Army. He was also responsible for the conduct of the massed band display during the Beating the Retreat Ceremony at Vijay Chowk to mark the culmination of India’s Republic Day Celebrations.
RIP Colonel Victor Duraisamy.