Living far away from their loved ones in the harshest of conditions is not easy for anyone but for them, it's a way of life. At the risk of sounding preachy, I'd really like to say that it is these heroes sleeping in bunkers for days on end, training in rigorous conditions, and happily playing with death the reason why we sleep soundly without a worry. Stories of these men of steel who stay awake and devote their lives to their motherland and the sacrifices that their families make for them will not only make your chest swell with pride but also bring a tear to your eyes.
We spoke to a few officers and their family members and here are their inspiring journeys.
Image Source: Livefest
"Being enamoured with the services my parents decided to marry both their daughters to service officers. My induction into the army was glamorous as I had the privilege of staying in the Raj Bhawan. I revelled in this cushy two-year tenure. However, good things don't last forever and my husband got posted to Sri Lanka as a part of Op Pawan. Much against my doctor's advice (as I was expecting my first child at the time), I travelled to Delhi to see him off. With a heavy heart, I hugged him one last time.
As I moved ahead, I looked back to catch a final glimpse of the man who had become the centre of my existence and lo behold, I saw this man talking animatedly to a group of friends, having forgotten my existence. At that moment, I realised that the camaraderie and bonhomie with brothers in arms surpass all else and now many years down the line I too cannot imagine any other way of life."
- Supriya Malhotra w/o Col. Anil Malhotra
"Sheer gut, grit josh (of Uri fame!), fire in the belly and madness are some of the reasons which made a person of me leave the comforts of IITs and BITs to join the National Defence Academy, many moons ago. Was it for a job? Yes, but also a lot more which kept my adrenalin going. With course mates from Army and Air Force, I was a Navy man and the 3 years together at the Academy created an everlasting bonding between all of us and we are 'bonded for life!'
When I fast-forward to many years later, as a Marine Engineer Officer onboard one of the Indian Naval frigates, it was hard work to keep the engines running to ensure that all our ship's, and the fleet’s, missions were accomplished successfully. When you left home in the wee hours to board the ship and sail out, you left behind the ‘Captain' of the home front who made this possible. From ensuring that my sparkling white uniforms stayed that way, keeping me well, taking charge of the house in the long absences, keeping the kids well-read and school-ready, rushing them during emergencies to the doctors and the hospitals, to keeping the morale of the “home” high even when she wasn’t sure that the husband would return. In addition, the duty of an officer's wife is also to ensure that she looks after and keeps the spirit of the sailors’ wives high. Mis-quoting George Bernard Shaw, I feel that it is the Lady behind the Armed Forces Officer who makes this possible. Once you step on the ship and proceed for a mission, you just concentrate on your job and leave all your domestic worries and chores behind, because you know you have a Superwoman back home to be both the parents and to keep the flag flying at home."
- Commander Pradeep Bahri
"I tied the knot with my husband, an officer of the Indian army twenty-two years ago. My initial perspective was that all I had to do was to be a dainty doll clad in chiffon and pearls, attend dinner nights and ladies meets with panache and live a life of luxury and comfort. However, my journey as a captain's wife to a colonel's has given me life experiences like no other.
Relocating every two years, settling and unsettling down- a common site, husbands getting deployed to high-security stations ALONE, while I remained 'safe' with my children in the unit, the thrill of having him back ALIVE. This is how I managed to strengthen myself to match the dauntless mettle of a man in uniform who draws extraordinary courage to persevere when any ordinary man would just give up.
Thus, the best experience as an 'Army Wife' has been to be known as the better half of my hero in olive green."
- Sunita Sial, w/o Col. Rajendra Singh Sial
"I had been an NCC cadet in school. This motivated me to be in uniform as a career
option. When I got my joining letter for NDA, my joy knew no bound. My rigorous training
converted me from a boy to a man. It developed the importance of discipline, punctuality, ethics and most importantly, the love for one's country at all costs. With stars on the shoulder, I realized that the Army is not a profession but a way of life. The glamour apart, the operations I participated in taught me that how uncertain life could be. In one moment you are enjoying and then you receive the orders for mobilization. Leaving behind a family to fend for themselves, you are inducted into the battlefield. During an operation in Sri Lanka, I was in action and a buddy who was with me received a shot on the head and was
dead. This bullet could have meant for me. It was indeed a close call.
The camaraderie, the bonhomie, the friendship with your colleagues is an experience
in itself. The unflinching loyalty, sincerity and the never say NO of the men you command
cannot be replicated in the city streets."
- Col. Anil Malhotra
"The most vivid memory I have of my childhood is looking out my window at night, anxiously waiting for my dad to come home. He used to be in his camouflage uniform and always greeted me with a huge smile. Whenever I rushed to hug him, I could smell the forest on him. The forest at the Kashmir border. I never truly realised what it meant back then. All I knew was that he was fighting the bad guys at the mysterious Kashmir border. Now I'm a bit older, I still stay up waiting with my mother for a letter, a call anything.
I have always been my dad's greatest admirer and he's always been my hero and I'm so proud of him."
-Ihita Chauhan, d/o Lt. Col. I. S. Chauhan
Image Source: Unsplash
"As a daughter, wife, and mother of an army officer, army life has been my whole existence. It has been a journey of myriad experiences- not only travels to the farthest corner of India, the wonderful experiences of camaraderie and cohesiveness of life in a palton but also worries associated with seeing your loved one facing danger every day, be it counter-insurgency operations or battle scenarios."
- Vasu Pant w/o Col. Pankaj Pant
"The one thing that I'm most proud about in my life is that I was born to a father who served the country. My dad retired from the Indian Navy when I started college so most of my school life, my friend circle only consisted of children from the Defence background. I know what it's like to lose a friend, an acquaintance to war or sometimes during the training for it.
It's easy to support the thought of going to war when you're not directly getting affected by it. For me, most of my friends', my immediate family are from the Armed Forces and even the thought of a possible war is extremely disturbing."
- Manasvi Jaitly, d/o Commander V. K. Jaitly
"The initial days as an officer in the unit were terrible- a stupid haircut, no moustache, your identity card being conveniently lost, and the list goes on. But somehow thirty-three years flew past and there was exaltation and agony alike. Poignant moments were realising that your vehicle was going for a toss and wondering who will be called up for a Court of Inquiry; sleeping in a counterinsurgency location at night all alone, flying inside a cloud and when it clears, you find yourself 10 meters above an electric substation; heading for one place and the next day morning finding yourself where you started from; being ready to enter a neighbouring country as part of an offensive plan; finding a cache of arms and ammunition; having to travel 15 km to receive a call intimating birth of your child; winning a tug of war with a team that looked the weakest."
- Col. DC Rujay
"I was born in Pune but moved around the country like any other army kid. The best part was when we were posted in the North East. Golf every day, the cinema once a week, daily visits to the library, having fun with my friends, playing all kinds of sports- it was perfect. The life abounded with greenery, isolated from the rest of the world but under all this lurked a deadly monster- the insurgency of the North East.
I remember vividly how only a convoy of jeeps would accompany us and the hands of the jawans constantly on their triggers around us. I'd keep asking why all these uncles were holding guns. I was too young to understand the dangers of army life and the daily sacrifices they made. Now that I do and urge people to understand that they have human rights too."
- Pranshu Gupta s/o Lt. Col Alok Gupta
"Life is short. Live each moment fearlessly, with complete surrender and gratitude in one's heart and a prayer on one's lips or rather with each breath. Being an army wife for the past twenty years and being married to a brave maverick who is a special forces officer, that's how we've learned to live life."
- Geetika Singh
Image Source: Rediff
"When I was about seven years old I was asked to write a poem for the school magazine on just about anything. Out of everything in the world I chose to write one on my father and titled it 'My Father, My Hero'. Now I don't remember what I had said but I'm sure the sentiment remains the same. I hated that he was away from us and never truly understood why my parents didn't live together. Civilian children at school teased me asking if they were divorced. At that time I didn't understand the bravery and courage it took for my father and mother one being posted in Jammu and Kashmir for most of his tenure, but now I do. It's sad that they're being used in a war to promote a political agenda. At the end of the day they're in the line of fire first and war should be the very last resort and there's no point glorifying it."
- Anandita Malhotra, d/o Col. Anil Malhotra
AWESOME NEWS! POPxo SHOP is now Open! Get 25% off on all the super fun mugs, phone covers, cushions, laptop sleeves, and more! Use coupon code POPXOFIRST. Online shopping for women never looked better!