Mr. ‘I’ll-do-anything-for-that-last-one-minute-with-my-family-before-boarding-the-plane-to-God-knows-where.” Never mind what he turned out to be, but life – well, that turned out to be a whole different story.
First, I was given the title of ‘the brave one’ by family when he was posted in far away Kashmir two mere months before we got married. This posting implied that we were separated for almost three years. However, there was a silver lining – we met once in five months and it was like a honeymoon. I got an extended courtship thanks to the Reliance connectivity! I was soon relegated to “oh, it happened to me too” when upon joining him in his army unit, I found I was in a long line of similarly crafted beginnings.
After a hearty welcome atop a trailer being towed by my beloved and a basket of vegetables along with a butcher knife, I took my place in the unit. I do get mixed reactions from those in the ‘civvy street’, as we refer to them (those civilians!). Some wonder how I can bear the anxiety of sending him off on unknown and potentially fatal postings, while others scoff at the fact that we have way too many luxuries at our disposal! There is a balance of both and to be a good army wife, I realised that I must take both with a pinch of salt.
More about the regimentation that I went through in the unit. Baking became a regular affair as did midnight calls from bachelors who were hungry for that home cooked meal. Welfare and bonding happened over tea and pakodas with the soldiers’ kin. Ladies’ meets came and went – decor, MC, competitions; I did it all. Raising days and reunions came like a welcome change in an otherwise quiet cantonment, with all the fun, frolic and frenzy of a wedding happening at home!
I must mention about the families of Jawans. We catered to every aspect of their welfare, carrying our children and rushing to their homes at any time of the day or night; even conducting classes in cooking, embroidery, sewing and painting to ensure they were self-sufficient in life, which include, teaching them how to use their precious ATM cards from the newly created joint accounts they now hold with their husbands. We taught them to be able to hold their heads high; we taught them to stand next to us and say, “we all belong to the services”.
Soon, we had created a bond that would last a lifetime. Before I knew it, I was handed the responsibility of my first charge – a newly married girl! Naive and ready to learn, she reminded me of the flight of time and the experience I had gained in just three years being by my husband’s side in the army unit. I handed down to her, all the tiny little things that go into making the “perfect army wife”, all the while nervously assuring her that I was by no means one as yet myself.
In between all of this, I had a daughter and my husband cleared the prestigious Defence Services Staff College entrance. While I learnt how to multi-task, at the same time, I was pampered silly by other officer’s wives, senior and junior, who having seen similar times without family, became more than family to me. And now here we are, in a sea of strangers at the Staff College, with six months into the course and double the number of friends who I know I am going to keep for life. Shopping, weekends away and constant entertaining at home – that’s what life is all about now.
There’s thick, there’s thin – and then there’s the armed forces. You take away so much – and you get so much more here. So far…so good!
Concluding, I would like to mention that this article is only the beginning of a story that will relate through a series of articles on how my life is in the Armed Forces. I would like to invite you all to stay with me and enjoy the journey. See you soon!