Once I happened to ask Zorba what was the difference between these two parties.
Zorba’s prolonged silence made me think that Zorba either didn’t know the difference or that he couldn’t find the right words to explain the difference.
Instead of answering me straight, Zorba asked another question: What is the difference between a Cavalryman and a Dragoon?
I said, I know vaguely the meaning of a Cavalryman – a combatant on a horse, fighting for his country or a cause.
In fact the word Dragoon seemed like a spelling mistake with an extra ‘o’ to a dragon.
Zorba said: There is a unifying factor – both use horses and mount those horses. But the unity ends there.
I was all the more curious to know the functions of a dragoon – my impatience to acquire that piece of knowledge made Zorba give a cynical smile.
Zorba said, if only had you understood the function of each of the components in relation to the task accomplished, you would be able to understand the Purpose of those components.
Let us take the horse, which is common to both a cavalryman as well as a dragoon. The fortunes of a cavalryman is closely bound up with the fortunes of the horse. There has to be a synergy between the horseman of a cavalry and his horse. They both have to fight together. The cavalryman has to turn the horse in a battlefield and manoeuvre it in such a way as to not merely protect the horse but to generate an advantageous position so as to lance an opponent or use his sword with optimal proximity with his target.
I agreed, but asked Zorba: but how is a dragoon any different?
Zorba said: For a dragoon a horse is just a means to reach the battlefield. His relationship with the horse is neither durable nor is the horse obedient and perceptive enough to wheel or turn or stall or amble or trot at the call of the dragoon. The dragoon uses the horse to reach the theatre of war, thereupon the horse and the dragoon are separated. The horseman is no more an horseman but an infantryman, fighting his enemies on his own skills, as a unit with the other dragoon who have dismounted their horses. Their relationship with the horse is contractual and not abiding.
If Alexander the Great named a city after Bucephalus, his horse, it was a homage paid by that great warrior statesman to the synchronicity of purpose achieved during the war with his horse Bucephalus and NOT BEFORE OR AFTER THE WAR.
A dragoon uses his horse and feeds it enough to carry the dragoon from one theatre to another theatre and the horse is never called upon to think upon the weal of his rider. In its free time it chews its provender and gallops to the next peg near the next theatre to be tethered for the horseman to become an infantryman and fight his battles and get back to his horse, if alive. If he dies or is injured another infantryman is recruited and the horse would do its duty within its limited remit with faithfulness. A dragoon’s horse has no loyalty or care as to who was on his back, he just needs his provender and rest. These dragoon horses are neither protected nor caparisoned after the battles are won. At best these dragoon could be called mounted infantrymen.
I asked Zorba, if those were the differences, which one is a Cavalryman and which one is a Dragoon?
Zorba said: I don’t know, but the horse stands for the Dravidian ideology. Find out for yourself and let me know.