Thursday, August 11, 2011

Welcome in Uniform - Part II

(Real names have been withheld as these are all people in uniform/service and cannot be named here).


When you think of a squadron, you imagine it brimming with fighter pilots in aviator shades. They sure are the heroes we have all wanted to grow up to be or marry (thank you Tom Cruise) but there are others who complete the picture. Technical crew, logistics, administrative guys, medical support, education dept. etc. They all make it into a self sufficient unit.

What happens when all men of that area are away on a secret operation? (yes things like these are a reality in everyday lives of men in uniform). Not for a few days or weeks but for 10 or 11 months at a stretch.

Imagine a wife who doesn't know where her husband is or when will he return? Once you have imagined the plight of one such wife, do imagine hundred such wives. It can drive you crazy to try and answer each and every one of them or help them with their chores. Life has to go on. Kids have to go to school. Bills have to be paid. Everything must run as it was when their husbands were around.

One woman who is directly responsible for managing all this is the Commanding Officer's wife. Generally called the First Lady. This is a role which calls for immense amount of patience, tact and judiciousness. 

One such lady got a phone call one day. It was a trunk call from Bihar. Any unknown or unsolicited call is scary in such times. She held onto the receiver hoping all was well.

An old couple came online. They were quick, sharp and lost no time in telling her that a lady will be travelling by this particular train and reaching her at this particular time with her luggage. She was free to accommodate her or then the lady would be left to fend for herself. 

This was something which struck the Co's wife like a bolt. Who was coming over, why was she coming over, what did she expect from her?

She didn't have to wait for long. The lady was at her doorstep sooner than expected.

Calling her a lady was rude. She was a young girl. Could have been 19 or 20 yrs old.

She stood there with two suitcases and a paper chit with an address which she had finally managed to find and reach. The moment she kept the suitcases down and figured that she had reached the right pl;ace, she burst out crying.

"I have been married for almost 8 months. My husband said he was going away on a mission right after our marriage. He never told me where and when is going to be back. I stayed with my parents the first three months. We still didn't know where he was. He refused to divulge. They sent me to my in-laws. I have been with them for 5 months. He calls once in a while but never tells anything else. I hope he is not going to leave me. Now I can't stay with them so we found out about his unit and your address." The uncertainities of her newly married life reflected clearly on her face and travel tousled clothes.

This was a long story told in a few minutes. The first lady sat and heard it all. Her mind was ticking. This young girl whom she knew nothing about was her responsibility now. Washing her hands off was unthinkable.

"Is he here? I hope he hasn't taken another wife. How can he be away for so long and not get any leave?", the girl continued.

"He is fine, don't worry. He is away at work. He is doing such an important job that they are unable to find a replacement who is as good as him. So he is unable to take leave," the lady consoled the girl knowing fully well why he hadn't disclosed anything on unsecured phone lines.

"First you must have something to eat, then we will talk to your husband".

While she freshened up, the lady arranged for a phone call, a temporary accommodation to be allotted and called all the other women who were posted there, to her house.

Sisterhood of the Fauji Wives
The girl calmed down after she spoke with her husband. She could now be explained where and how he was. In the meanwhile all the other women gathered. Everyone had a thing or two for her. Utensils, mattresses, curtains, cooking gas etc. were thus arranged in no time. All the ladies took it upon themselves to teach her a thing or two about the Forces and how the wives were the backbone of men who fought at the front without worrying who was going to take care of their families. In two days she had a running house.

And in two months, when her husband came back from the 'Operation', he was amazed to find that his young bride had already been transformed in the Fauji (Military) Wife. 


  1. Happy ending ! Thank god ! I was worried !

    Good you are telling these true stories Vandu...want to know more of those...

  2. good to know things settled down...:)

  3. Yeah, u r very true. As u might be knowing that i am also in force. And believe me ur story of this is really heart touching, no no soul touching. We too miss out of our family for long durations and our family does not at all kno about our where hood. Thanks vandana. U r doing a fabulous job. Congrats.

  4. @Anagha & Chintan....yes this was one of the stories with a happy ending. God knows how many others are there which are not as lucky.

    @Raj, yes life in the forces is tough. However glamourous it looks from outside....the family life is tough. This is just an attempt to bring out the balance in the harsh yet friendly conditions.

  5. so true :) hats of to the ladies who support these brave men in uniform


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