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Cantonment life!

Cantonment life!

Do you know the most boring time in a Fauji wife’s life? It is when she decides to stay back in the cantonment with her two kids during summer vacation, and the husband is out on duty for the entire period. And I am presently in such a situation.

Life inside a cantonment

It is a different world all-together. Neatly laid out roads, clean and peaceful environs, auditoriums, sports complexes, schools within, sometimes our own golf course, and of course the Officers Institute to spend time with friends in the evenings. Cantonments with their ambience form the basis of our support system, when husbands are away for long durations. And if you are posted in a remote destination in India, the cantonment becomes all the more important to help you in your day-to-day living. It becomes an integral part of every fauji’s life.

I live in one such cantonment in India. Away from the noise and population of the bigger cities, amidst lush green forests and mountains, the scenic beauty of the place is splendid indeed. I can wake up to the sound of peacocks, Koels and parrots. I can go for long peaceful walks. I can lead an active social life- friends, movies and food. The cantonment and the vibrant people within, has become my home away from home.

Except when it is vacation time…and silence envelopes all over

Come summer vacation and most families head homewards. It is that time of the year, and the parks start to wear a desolate look. The winding roads of the cantonment are sans mothers, and their babies in prams. Garden benches, the meeting point of ladies to chit-chat, stay empty. No squealing children and no youngsters racing down slopes on their bicycles. The Officers Institute too, begins to witness minimal population in the evenings. It is that time when the whole vibrancy of the cantonment seems to have disappeared, all together.

Boredom- Tough to manage

We fauji wives belong to a special breed. We can manage it all- from taking care of home, work, kid’s school, finances, loans, to cooking up a full course meal for a group of hungry bachelors. But the toughest thing to manage at this point of time seems to be the boredom and quietness all around me. I am dependent on the cantonment I live in.

As I try figuring out how to get past these quiet days, I walk down the road hoping to find a face to smile at, searching for that one person to strike a conversation with. I pray that the weeks would pass by soon, and the cantonment would be its true self again, bursting with effervescence.

When Flowers Shower Their Fragrance

When Flowers Shower Their Fragrance

He would be gone this time for a hundred days. It wasn’t the first time he was doing this; however, I sure was an emotional wreck. Was it because I had to manage two hyper-active toddlers on my own, in a mad city such as Delhi- getting them to school and tending to all their needs? Or was it because he wouldn’t be around to celebrate our tenth anniversary together? And why was there a strange anxiousness about his safety?

I had no answers …. I bid him a tearful farewell as my two little girls clung to me like kangaroos.

It’s not all pomp and show for a soldier’s wife, unlike what’s depicted in movies. Behind all the parties and glamour -of women draped in delicate chiffons, is the real life the wives lead. Change becomes a constant companion.  And as constant as this change is the long spells of separation. Husbands are often sent on duties to remotely accessible areas for long durations. For months together we run the show at home, being a mother, father, a teacher and a friend to our children, with no traces of worry or stress on our brows, ‘lest our kids sense it. Birthdays and anniversaries quite often become mere dates on the calendar. If I am lucky, the divine almighty may just make his mobile signals work for a day, and wishes could be exchanged on the occasion.

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On the morning of our tenth anniversary, I sat flipping through the pages of a glossy magazine, sulking on the loneliness that had enveloped my heart. He wasn’t around and there would be no celebrations. My thoughts were disturbed by the sound of the calling bell. I opened the door to an unexpected sweet surprise. There were flowers at the door- a lovely bouquet with blue orchids and white dahlias. It didn’t take me long to guess who would have sent it, ‘cause the choice of flowers were my favorite. Thanks to the internet revolution, and of course to his mobile signals.

I pulled out the little card attached to the bouquet and read the lines that were on it. It wasn’t a lengthy one; in fact, I would have been surprised if it was. He seldom expressed himself in an elaborate way. The words brought tears to my eyes.

“The flowers may soon wither away losing their fragrance. Our relationship won’t….”

I was overwhelmed with emotions yet again. All of a sudden the loneliness in my heart did a disappearing act. I felt his presence around and his laughter rang in my ears. The bouquet had given me the strength to be courageous and have nerves of steel. I seemed to fear nothing and my anxiousness had died an instant death. “He would be fine and would be home soon”, I said to myself. I smiled, my heart felt positive; as I got up to get on with my life, adorning the different caps I do for my tiny tots.

The flowers had showered me with a fragrance of a different kind.

‘This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

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I Do Wear His Stripes!!

I Do Wear His Stripes!!

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.25_OPEN_PAGE_ARMY__1912669f

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.