I loved the warm vibes and friendly tones in my online interactions with Shalini R Nair who is an avid cook, fiction writer and holds the distinction of a much read/followed army wife who blogs. Not one but two blogs!!! Her cookery blog has sumptuous and easy to follow recipes while her second blog is her love for life in all its glory. She was one of the first online friend I made – a friendship that’s treasured to this day. This is her first time on my blog and I am bursting with pride to present her viewpoint on her life as an army wife!!
What it takes to be an Army Wife
Of course, life in the Army is fascinating! But do you think it is easy for us? That everything is given to us wrapped in a beautiful gift? We have learned it the hard way. Life as an Army Wife is no ballroom dancing!
“When is your Deployment due?”
It was three days before my wedding to the Olive Green when the photographers decided to do a photo shoot for the wedding album. While I had butterflies in my stomach, smiling and looking into his eyes, he blurted out, “I am deployed to a remote location in J&K and I should report on duty after seven days of our wedding”. My whole world came crashing down and the song from the movie Border “To Chalun” started playing in my head. No kidding! So, no! You never know when your deployment is due. You might have to move on ten days notice. That means packing up your entire home in boxes and moving along with your kids and dogs.
Living out of a box!
When I took a peek into his bachelor accommodation for the first time after wedding, other than his belongings in apple-pie order, what caught my eye was the number of black boxes he owned; twenty-three of them – two packed with military books, one with winter clothes, two with uniforms, another two for his shoes, one for his caps and then a few more which had a stag head, ten Buddha idols, three beautiful wall fans for decor and much more. Needless to say, I added another twenty boxes by the time we moved for our first posting after the wedding.
“Mam… Coffee, please”, is a customary anthem you get to hear along with loud bangs on the door at midnight. These are your soldier’s junior officers and wives; and you ought to put up your brightest of smiles even in this Goddamn hour, welcome them in, prepare coffee and Maggi.
It is fun, I tell you!
There are also times when the husband calls up at six in the evening, to announce that he has invited a couple of officers for dinner. A dinner always is an elaborate meal. I have learned to prepare four appetizers, roti, rice, dal, two curries, two sides and a dessert in 90-minutes time. I kid you not!
We also always try to help our new neighbors with an invitation for lunch or dinner. We can also take care of their adorable Beagle and Labrador in case of an emergency. That’s because we understand the importance of coming together. Because when your husband is away guarding the borders, these friendships bring the much-needed warmth into our lives.
The Army Wife Wardrobe
We love to dress up! Who don’t you might ask! How about cut-off denim shorts, buttoned up shirt, cowboy hats, and boots? Or anarkhalis, gold and silver braid, and gorgeous jewelry? A stunning LBD and five-inch heels? Along with traditional attires, a complete winter wardrobe and sportswear, we also have a huge collection of sarees – Leheriya from Rajasthan, Chikan from Lucknow and Kasavu from Kerala. And believe me, we wear them all on different formal/informal occasions.
The Weird Questions!
Let’s face it! All the Army Wives go through this humiliation or bewilderment of some popular questions asked by our civilian friends and relatives. While some are outright funny, often we feel like giving a smack on the face. These are about our Sahayak (who according to them is a servant), free ration (which is now not issued), free liquor (seriously?), and getting them Raybans, laptops or even Maggi from CSD/Canteen (no comments!). I have been asked once whether my husband has killed anyone! Well…well…
Forget You Have a Job!
Whether you’ve done your Masters in Engineering or Business Administration, or you have got an MBBS, LLB, CA or a Ph.D. degree I’d say, our career is one huge sacrifice which we ought to make – maybe as early as the first day of marriage, two months, three or ten years! After all, you cannot find an IT company in the hillocks of Pithoragarh or the snow-clad mountains in Leh.
Pangs of Separation
Nahin! Humko darr nahin lagta! Even when he is posted in a field location with no telephone connectivity and you wouldn’t get a call from him for days together, we ought to put on a brave face, assume the role of a plumber, electrician, and a doctor and a driver to our kids during the bloodshed! Because… heavens! They are Army Brats!
Unforeseen, unpredictable situations are not a new thing for us. When the news of my husband’s coursemate, a very dear friend – Lt. Col. Niranjan’s martyrdom was known, it was devastating, to say the least. We live a life of fear. Of terror. Of alarm. To sum it up, we at the Fauj says, ‘Love your spouse with the opportunity you have. No one is guaranteed a tomorrow”.
You are & will always be his second wife…
… that is if you’re lucky! Our soldier’s first and ultimate love will always be his Uniform. Their love for machines, arms, and guns is eternal, for they are their best friend in times of trouble. And I dare not mention about their ardent love for the Bullet – Royal Field. Phew! Thank God that we are at least a part of their life.
Army Wives are proud and passionate and belong to the silent ranks. If given a chance to do things all over again, I’d still not hesitate to choose this life!
This guest post has been written for the birthday celebration on my blog all of september 2017