Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Musings of a newly wed.....

                                                  Wedding bells rang....and soon after our wedding he had to leave for his YO's course in CME Pune. My first impression of my life as a wife of an Army Officer started taking it's vague shape there on our wedding reception where on being asked his seniors advised him against taking me along with him to his course. I somehow felt being cheated by my husband. I was not ready to stay back without him...yet I had to as I did not find any other option for myself. But fortunately my mother in law insisted that I join him in Pune. So with her I came to Pune to stay with him. My husband had already arranged an apertment near CME which was to be shared by three other officers, who will be staying with their spouses. Pune was full of fun and frolic for all of us. With husbands being busy in their course the lady wives had a total Masti  time  amongst themselves. It was just like our extended Hostel life for all of us with all of us having Maggie Party and going for a movie late at night on our bicycles. Life was fun at that time. Till then I did not have clue about life of an Army wife.
                                                    The course finished after six months and we had to leave for his regiment in Ambala. We headed for Ambala. I knew that this is  the world that my husband belonged. When our train reached Ambala, my husband remarked that there might not be anyone to receive us at the station and he left the bogie to look out for a coolie.   I smiled wryly. Who did he expect??? I scanned the platform to breathe in the place where I was to start my married life. My gaze was riveted by the sight of a group of OG uniformed jawans all lined up. My husband re-entered the coach. He had changed from a self-conscious newly married husband into an officer. “These jawans  are from my company. My Coy commander has sent them and his Jeep to receive us. You must return their greetings appropriately,” he informed and instructed me. Coming from an entirely civil background I found myself in an ambiance totally alien to me and my husband did nothing to remove ignorance about this new world. My baptisement into army life was beginning...though I was still clueless for an appropriate way of returning their wish.  
                                                   But soon I learnt to address them as "Bhaiyas"(brothers)  and also had learnt to accept their style of hovering around the house. I was welcomed as a new bride with ceremonies by the whole regimental family in our Officers Mess. Of course, there were the initial teething problems. But on the whole I count myself lucky for having been exposed to this kind of life.At first, I used to feel like a bird that has come in from the wild and been imprisoned. There were so many rules and regulations. All that hierarchy from a Lt to a Gen, one had to be so careful. But slowly and gradually I learnt to transform my frivolous, college girl attitude into that of an army officer’s wife. This I achieved by my husband’s acute disapproval of anything unbecoming of a lady and by sheer observation of other ladies. I learnt to mix with different kinds of people coming from different social backgrounds from different parts of India. My major obstacle was my fleeting acquaintance of the language in the fauji-hindi. Using this language, I learnt to mix with people: some of who were familiar and mostly unfamiliar but friendly. In a gathering, I learnt to acknowledge the presence of everybody on entering and leaving. It may seem ridiculous to mention it, but it is ridiculously conspicuous by its absence in gatherings where people confine themselves to groups. The army is one establishment where one’s social etiquette is honed to perfection. At the base of it all is the cardinal attribute of humility, which one learns due to the system of hierarchy. Besides humility and good manners, hospitality towards guests (a dying art where T.V serials gain priority over socializing) is very much interwoven in army life.
                                                       Now I realized that Had I not married into the armed forces, so many creative arts would have bypassed me. The Gypsy life that we lead by virtue of our husbands job brings thrill in our life with challenges of adjusting in an entirely new place and converting a new structure into a home. The way we learn to live with the bare minimum yet we long for more..be it small or big, permanent or temporary, concrete or tin, barracks or bunglows....we are purely blessed to call them our "Home". At every posting I love the challenge of dressing up a new quarter to suit our personalities. I have dabbled in the arts of gardening, flower arrangement, singing, choreography and public speaking. I believe every woman has an artistic niche in her personality. But how many have the fortune or opportunity to explore it, I wonder.
                                                      At times life can be very difficult and lonely as well. But this phase too has its own charm with all those pot lucks and ladies meets we find our way out to keep ourselves occupied yet entertained at the same time. We learn to live on our own for months together without any support system, when our husbands are out on temporary duty or exercise. There are times when you are settling in a new place and you have no servants or maid; which means one has to double up as the maid, chef, gardener, et al. Then when social outings become a compulsion, you have to wear a smile to match the outfit and brave it all as others do. Yes in this course you learn some good acting skills as well. A teaching job with suitable hours is all right. But no woman can seriously think of a 9 to 5 career if she plans to enjoy a family life together. The social commitments as an army wife are all encompassing but can be profoundly satisfying depending on which way you look at it. The sacrifices that we have to make are worth the silent rank that we wear as an Army wife. Yes this is a rank that I would shamelessly flaunt till the last day of my life as I consider myself as blessed to be married to the Olives. This life that I am leading is only about celebrating the brighter shades in it…this life is forever…this life is for me…Touchwood!!!

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