I attended a military gathering with my husband recently where I met a junior officer, whom we have known for several years. Smart in his crisp blazer and scarf neatly tucked, this young officer was smarter than most Bollywood stars. Knowing well his age was over 30 and being a nosey Indian, I asked him when he planned on getting married. Gulping down the last bit of his drink, and creasing his eyebrows, he said, “Ma’am I wish it would happen soon. But you know the nature of our jobs. Every time I meet a girl and give her an insight into our lives, the risks and the constant movements, she hesitates”. “Come on”, I said. “Look at the number of women in this hall who have agreed to marry a Fauji. I am sure it is not difficult to find someone”. “I hope I get lucky too Ma’am, for most girls these days seek a steady career and that is something I can’t guarantee. Nothing is guaranteed in our lives”, he said.
I let that conversation end there that day. But as I lay on my bed that night, I couldn’t help pondering over a certain truth that lay hidden in it.
Not recently, I had attended an interview for the role of a sub-editor in a publication. The interview was going on pretty well until the point where I was asked where my hubby was employed. My answer changed the course of the interview. The HR guy across the table put down his pencil and asked me, “How do you think you would manage? Your husband would be away for long periods, and you may be transferred out even before getting your hands on the job.” I replied back,”Well, I don’t wear his stripes. And having just moved into this city, I would be here atleast for two years”. He asked me if I could sign a bond with effect to this- a commitment to not quit for two years. I could not. I didn’t get the job.
As a young girl, I would often be a witness to parties in Defence circles. My uncle, a Wing Commander was posted in the Command hospital in Bangalore. I would sneak between the curtains just to get a glimpse of women delicately draped in chiffons, sipping champagne from tall glasses. For me it was a surreal world. And this was where I wanted to belong.
But beyond this surreal world was another which I wasn’t really aware off.
Change became a constant companion. In my decade, of being married to a man in uniform, I have lived in 9 houses. To the extent, recently, my 7 year old confusedly asked me if it is a norm to shift to a new home at the beginning of every New Year!!!! And as constant as this change is the long spells of separation, when hubby dearie is out on duty. I adorn multiple roles, of mom, dad, teacher…. Trying to not let loneliness set in and bother.
But I go on… for reasons are aplenty…
For one, I am immensely proud, proud of the uniform hubby adorns, proud that he has a job to do, proud that I have a significant role to play in his life.
Secondly, nothing is certain in anybody’s life, so why brood over the known uncertainty in my life. Looking at the broader picture, being a fauiji wife gives you an opportunity to grow, make friends, become resilient, and mature into a fine human being.
And yes, I did lie to the HR guy at the interview. I do wear hubby’s stripes in a certain way by being a support, but they are invisible to the naked eye.