Wedded to the Olive Green!
Yes Iam –the lady wife of a soldier in the “brassoed”armour! And do I love it ?-Yes I do , would never want it any other way.
Nine years ago , I married my childhood sweetheart , who at two years of service was a young dashing officer waiting to sweep me off the floor, but my weight prevailed , so he opted to drive me out !Being from services background myself, I adjusted well into the unit life which lasted for less than two months as my husband got detailed for a course in Devlali, Nashik. No, I do not intend taking you all through the many locations we have been to , but as I transgress the geographical boundaries my mind wanders to all the blacks, the whites and grays of being wedded to the olive green!
My first experience of being married into the forces came when grown up children of fellow officers addressed me as “aunty”!
All of 22 then, the word hit me like a bolt not only because I was shocked to hear a 16 year old calling me so, but because I instantly recollected the anger in the eyes of a lady officer when I was 16 and she a young Pilot officer in the Air Force , and I uttered the “A”word! The look still sends shivers down my spine. But that day I finally made peace with her as there I was standing in her shoes! And it hurt! With time however I began to respond more graciously to the “A”word !
As if this was not enough to make me realise that I had grown up, the “chapatti” challenge was thrown my way. We invited a couple of officers to dinner, for which we ordered chapattis from a corner dhaba as I had never made chapattis before. But that day it seemed that everybody ganged up against me, even the dhabawala and the chapattis were more like a compact weapon system that could fracture the jaw line! I could see my guests trying to tear the chapattis with their incisors that were beginning to look shaky to me! To add insult to injury, one of the officers counseled my husband and said “you must motivate Mrs.Kalia to make chapattis, it is not too difficult!”
The humour in uniform was beginning to play out and I was enjoying every bit of it , while fretting every now and then. I found the interest that people showed in everybody’s life both intriguing and plain . There was a certain innocence I thought in the way people enquired about everybody . In some cases the probe went beyond comfort levels but it did not bother anybody much , not even me , as I was already beginning to feel a part of the family.
The friends I made on course in Devlali are my favourite people today . The friendships have extended way beyond the acquaintance frame. And it is this very aspect of the army life that I simply love. Making new friends, creating new bonds and experiencing a new place every few years is what makes army so beautiful, exciting and different . While it surely has its own trials , which I feel every time my husband leaves home to fly his helicopter , I also believe that it has made me stronger . There are risks that have to be taken and trails that have to be stood by , but amidst the anxiety and fear lies a calm me who believes that eventually it is all going to be fine.
I get distracted easily as there are umpteen commitments to attend.-welfare functions for jawans wives , AWWA meets, coffee mornings and ladies meet –the list is unending . There is always something lined up for us .This I believe is partly to keep our mind off the unnecessary anxiety that we experience from time to time and partly to show off our wardrobe!
The socialising sessions are fun . Ladies behave like ladies complimenting each other on their turn out , enquiring about the latest offers in the market and discussing the very touchy “weight loss” issue! Despite seeming enthusiastic about weight loss, the grub that sits on their plates is rather misleading –was it weight loss or weight gain? Whatever, they will start from tomorrow! That is , if tomorrow comes!
The “ladies special”outings are topped with evening parties that are more formal and include dining-in for new officers and dining-out for the outgoing officers. This accentuates the glamour quotient. Yes, army is indeed glamorous-smart uniforms, lovely parties and an elegant décor is what makes it so glamorous. The glamour at times gets compromised by the politics of hierarchy in the system. But it can bother one only so much. As a bystander there is fun and no more in the Army.
At this point in time , I am perched precariously on an olive branch(quite literally so) with a charming view of army life . There is still a long way to go , but I believe that my first impression will indeed be my last impression and god forbid if it changes , I will be back again!