18th June ‘2011: 7 PM
A time to remember…..
Four years back, never in the wildest of dreams, had I imagined getting married to an army officer. Those days I was just a worker bee who had joined an IT hive and had no special plans for future except for enjoying the moments that ‘present’ of that time window had to offer. My life was filled with all hues and shades, with me getting the best and worst out of each of them. A lot of certification exams, hectic work, crazy deadlines, frequent presentations, learning new software tools every now and then, frequent trekking with my friends, dining at the best restaurants of Pune, shopping to heart’s content (no wonder, my parents frowned each time I shelled out money like water to indulge in new outfits, cosmetics, shoes and other apparels) and not forgetting to mention, too much of yapping on phone for incredibly long hours are just some snippets of my bachelorette life! And my list of indulgences do not end here, so I refrain from sharing more for reasons best not stated 😉
And those were years, when words like commitment, marriage, relationships sounded gross. Hailing from a Tam Brahm family, these words haunted me time and again in the form of lashing tongues of every (un)known relative on earth, often speculating on what kind of a (bride)groom I should prefer. (only if it were just a groom, Sigh!) And if my parents were asked to describe me then, they would have nodded their heads out of resignation saying- ‘She was born a rebel! She repels anything that is sane, logical and rational!’ And they should get a five star rating for that ‘review me’ quiz as that precisely defined me way back then! But when times change, a lot changes with it. Opinions, perspective towards life and even habits that die hard, continue to evolve into something better (or worse). In my case, change diligently rubbed itself a tad too much on me, that ‘me’ in present cannot be related to that ‘me’ which existed 4 years back! And the change for the better settled within me for a permanent hiatus, the day I was betrothed to an army officer.
Man proposes, Destiny decides & God plans!
I still remember, a month before I met my husband in the year 2008, I met a girl in my office cafeteria, whose husband was serving in the Indian Army. Seeing her state of staying alone (wherein she was working in an IT company), with her husband posted somewhere in North Eastern terrains, a fleeting thought crossed my mind: ”How can she stay like this with her husband posted in some remote corner of the country where he is barely reachable?” At that moment, I could not imagine a life as that for myself, with my better half away from me and not reachable! However, destiny had different plans for me! And who was I to refute it?…..
When Forrest Gump recollects what his mom said to him, “My momma always said, ‘Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.’”, I can assure you, his mom was not lying! She meant it, not just for him, but for each one of us! And I got betrothed to an army officer exactly 6 months later! So today after 2 years of a wonderful courtship and almost an year and more post marriage, if you ask me what it feels like to have married an army officer, the answer is – I feel blessed, I feel proud and above all, I feel honored! And if you were just thinking, why am I blogging this?; for one reason, that I empathize with all heart, with all those wives of officers and jawans, whose husbands are posted in a battle zone, where they are not reachable most time. And for a million reasons that go unacknowledged, it is never easy staying away from the person you love, a person you love so deeply. It is excruciatingly painful when your beloved is not reachable for days and weeks, with the wife not having a cue as to what state her husband might be in. Questions like “Is he fine?….. Is there a problem?….. Why has he not called yet?….. Does he get good food in the place he is posted in?….. When will I see him again?….. Why can’t they have a phone that he can be reached on instantly?….. I hope his leave plans don’t change this time at least!….. I wish I were near him to take care of him!….. reverberate from time to time in the back of the wife’s head. The pain of being oblivious to ground realities of life can be debilitating. It exhausts physical and mental strength alike.
Becoming the Family…..
And now as I look back at a milestone crossed over, the past 4 years were a cocktail of those myriad emotional moments that included our courtship, our engagement, our marriage and our best laughs and worst fights. I feel the wife part in me has evolved me into a much more self tolerant a person than I was before. However, life never teaches the easy way. In the initial days post marriage when hubby was immediately posted at some remote location, the brunt of me having been transformed into an answering machine to all sorts of clowns in the town who came up with the most cruel and idiotic questions (some of which were too scathing to digest) lingered longer than expected. One scornful comment from a relative still remains etched in my selective memory; ‘oh well! You married an army officer. That’s nice. You can buy stuff at half the price we get in the market!’ Well it was just too easy for that ignorant civilian to comment and go. All, that civilian and all of that particular breed know about are those measly comforts that army officers are provided with, for their families. What the civilian does not know is the price the officer pays for those comforts by slogging away at a place somewhere in the terrains of the mountains, away from his wife, kids and family, away from his home, away from his comfort zone and all for a crowd he does not know! What the civilian is oblivious to, is that the officer’s family can avail certain items at a discounted price in those canteens, which is something that the officer pays for from his own salary package. What the civilian does not know is, to earn those privileges for himself and his family, the officer’s life is perpetually at risk and is always clouded with a plethora of uncertainties. Very sad, that people either fail to or choose not to understand the reasons behind such privileges that our army officers are entitled to. And above all, if the officer is posted in a battle zone, things can get worse for the wife as well who is constantly a target to insanely rude questions/comments that pop up repeatedly. Even friends can unintentionally (or perhaps intentionally) pass on cold remarks on the woman’s plight, without understanding her delicate mental condition. Having been through the above phase (and still going through it), I am now able to relate to those wives of those officers who have been posted away from their family and get to see the family once in a blue moon! And the going is never easy…..
Not forgetting to mention, my husband commands the deepest respect in me, for being by my side even in those times post marriage, when I did not have the privilege of having him around all through the year. Yet, his frequent calls full of assurance, his words of wisdom and his incredible patience to hear my heart rant out to him in those moments of loneliness have helped me emerge stronger and perhaps, mature enough to sustain in a society that is most of the times (in)sane and (in)sensitive.
And the challenge lies in fighting back the insensitivity in people. As my husband puts it beautifully, “Insensitivity is quite synonymous with a pig muddling in dirt. Trying to fight it/clean it will splash some dirt on you, wherein the pig remains oblivious to the efforts put in cleansing it! Just that, that trait in people is not worth any attention.” On a lighter note, these moments have taught me to laugh at my self too and have helped me control my irrepressible impulses to react to situations, which only appeared crass in the fit of that moment! Coming to the brighter side, what it feels like having married an army officer, I have learnt a great deal (if not absolutely) about patience, perseverance and observing the world around (qualities which I never had before). And today I have more reasons to feel proud and happy when husband is around me in those power vacations of 3 months a year, than being sad for not having him around all year round.
Feelings straight from the heart
As I end this post, I would like to give a few words of advice to people who love the greener pastures of Defense life without knowing what it takes to get there! There was never a concept of free lunch and never is! No good thing runs into your life, without you not paying a price for it! Because, every genuine thing alone has a price, isn’t it? If people think, defense personnel lead a great life, then such jerks need to step into the shoes of all those officers and jawans who have seen and lived through tough days fighting against unseen enemies and protecting us all the time, of those wives who breathe relief when they get to hear the voice of their husbands coming over from miles away after days, but just for a few seconds on an exchange number, of those children who get to see very little of their fathers on duty and grow up amicably unlike other children who are privileged enough to see their fathers everyday and of those parents who persistently pray for the well being of their sons at work camouflaging their fears with smile and pride that their sons earn for them! Only if one gets to understand all of the above, one might as well start appreciating and respecting what it takes to fight for one’s country and what it takes to support the one…..
GOD BLESS….. and JAI HIND…!!