Link to my original post in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal:
THE NEW AGE “FAUJI MEMSAHIB”
Sometime back the Social Media was abuzz with news of a curious contretemps pertaining to AWWA (Army Wives Welfare Association) and this issue was reported in the media too (Link to report below):
If you read the news report and peruse the numerous comments and views on the incident expressed by young army wives on the social media, especially twitter, it is evident the archaic feudal army social culture is not in sync with the aspirations of the new age army wife.
All this “humor out of uniform” reminded me of a blog post I had written a few months ago about the changing face of the “Fauji Memsahib”
I am posting the story once more for you to read:
ARMY WIFE – THEN AND NOW : A Tale of 4 “Fauji Memsahibs”
Story of 4 “Fauji Memsahibs”
ARMY WIFE NO. 1 – SHE HAD NO REGRET MARRYING AN ARMY OFFICER
1948 Army Bride
“There is a marriage proposal for you,” her parents say, the moment she returns home from college.
“I don’t want to get married,” she says.
“Do you want to remain a spinster all your life?” her mother asks.
“No. But let me finish my graduation. Then I’ll see,” she says.
“She has a point. Let her finish her graduation. It’s just a question of one year,” her father says.
“Yes, let me finish my graduation,” the girl says.
“What graduation? Your whole aim is to get married, isn’t it? The boy and his parents are not insisting on graduation. They saw you at the club last evening, they have liked you, the boy has liked you, and the proposal has come. And let me tell you one thing – you won’t find a more eligible bachelor than him. It will be top status match. He is an army officer and you know that army officers are in highest demand – he can get any girl he wants, and you will be very lucky to get a husband like him. We will all regret it if we let go an opportunity like this,” the mother says.
“Please don’t hurry me up. Let me meet the boy. I will talk to him. Maybe he will wait for one year till I finish my B.A. – maybe we can get engaged now and marry later,” the girl says.
“No. The boy cannot wait for one year. He has been selected to go abroad for a long training course in England. He is leaving next month and they want to get him married before he leaves so that he can take his wife along with him to England,” the mother says.
Her father interjects, “I have found out everything about the boy from my army friends. The boy is a fine officer and has a very bright future in the army. The family is very respectable and decent too. I think you should consider this proposal.”
Seeing the daughter confused, the mother says firmly, “Listen carefully. They want our answer by tonight – yes or no. There is bevy of girls lined up for him, so may girls are desperate to get married to him, and you will regret it all you life if you let this boy go.”
The girl nodded her acceptance.
He mother rang up the boy’s mother.
Next day, the boy and his parents came over to “see” the girl – notionally, the boy’s side still had the prerogative to “reject” the girl but then they had already seen her and liked her.
The girl got married to the army officer the next week. They went on a whirlwind honeymoon to Darjeeling, then to the army cantonment where the boy was posted, where there was a flurry of parties, and then they set sail for England.
The girl did not complete her graduation. There was no need for so much education – for she was going to be a full time army wife – a “memsahib”.
The girl did not regret her decision.
In fact, marrying an army officer was the best thing that happened to her.
Where else would she get the high status in society, the top quality lifestyle, and the comforts that she enjoyed as the wife of a General?
Yes, her husband had become a General and she was the “first lady” and she was proud to have contributed to his success as a perfect army wife.
She felt absolutely no regret that she had married an army officer.
In fact, marrying an army officer was the best decision of her life.
20 Years Later…
ARMY WIFE NO. 2 – SHE HAD A LITTLE BIT OF REGRET MARRYING AN ARMY OFFICER
1968 Army Bride
She was a budding lawyer with a lot of promise.
After her LL.B. she had begun her practice under the tutelage of a top-notch lawyer.
One day, she submitted her resignation and told him that she was giving up her law practice.
Her boss was aghast and demanded to know the reason for her inexplicable decision.
“Sir, I am getting married to an army officer,” she said.
“But why resign and give up your practice? You can continue to practice law even after marriage. You are so talented – you have a very bright future ahead of you – I am sure you will become a very successful lawyer and, who knows, you even may get the opportunity of being elevated as a judge,” he said.
“Sir, my husband will be posted all over as an army officer and I don’t want to live separately from him – in fact, he has made it quite clear that he wants me to accompany him wherever he goes,” she said, and quit her law career.
She enjoyed being an army wife, supporting her husband in his career, taking part in various social duties, the nomadic way of life, and cozy existence of cantonment life.
Later, as she saw that some of her classmates and erstwhile lawyer colleagues, who were much less accomplished than her, had become successful lawyers, and some had even become judges, and she felt a tinge of regret, for she had no identity of her own except that of being the wife of an army officer.
Yes, she did feel a bit of regret that she had married an army officer and sacrificed her own career.
20 Years Later…
ARMY WIFE NO. 3 – SHE HAD PLENTY OF REGRET FOR MARRYING AN ARMY OFFICER
1988 Army Bride
She was a qualified engineer who had specialized in computer and software engineering.
She got a job in the top pioneer software company and had settled down quickly in her career.
She got married to an army officer.
She had two choices:
1. She could give up her career as a “Techie” and join her husband in the remote place where he was posted and then accompany him wherever he was posted. She realized that if she wanted to always be with her husband, as an army wife she would have to be either a homemaker or a teacher, the only feasible career in a cantonment.
2. She could continue her career but have a “long distance marriage” with her army husband as he got posted all over.
She chose the second option.
Yes, she chose Option 2 – she decided to pursue her career as a “Techie” and have a “long distance marriage”.
She did extremely well in her career.
Soon, she was way ahead of her “fauji” husband who was plodding along in the army.
In their entire married life, they spent just 3 years together when her husband managed a posting to her place of work.
Often, she felt lonely, as she missed her husband.
As she saw her fellow “techie couples” enjoy the bliss of married life, she was filled with regret that she was married only on paper.
Yes, she was married only on paper – in practice, her life was as if she was not married.
Loneliness proved corrosive for her army officer husband too, who took solace in alcohol.
Worse, the army officer husband developed an inferiority complex because his wife had done much better than him in life, career-success wise and money wise, as the prospects in the army were limited as compared to the software industry.
All this – the conjugal separation, her work pressures, compounded by her husband’s increasing melancholic attitude, took its toll on her too.
She regretted marrying an army officer.
20 Years Later…
ARMY “NOT-TO-BE-WIFE” NO. 4 – SHE DID NOT WANT TO REGRET BY MARRYING AN ARMY OFFICER
2008 “Not-to-be” Army Bride
She was the ambitious daughter of an army officer – she was an “army brat”.
She studied economics from a premier college and then followed it up with an MBA from a top Business School, topping in both courses.
She had got a top-notch placement as an investment banker.
She was taken aback when her classmate from school suddenly proposed to her.
He was also an “army brat” who had joined the NDA as a cadet after school and was now an army officer.
The army officer told the investment banker that he was secretly in love with her and was waiting for her to finish her studies before he proposed.
“But I treated you as a friend,” she said.
“But for me you are much more than a friend – tell me – what’s wrong if we get married – we know each other since school,” he said.
“Are you crazy?” she said.
“Crazy? Why?” he asked.
“Why don’t you understand? You are just an army officer and I am an investment banker. I am out of your league now. Do you know the package I have been offered? In the army, I doubt you get even one-tenth of the salary and perks I get. See, don’t feel bad, but I have my dreams, my ambitions of making it real big – now I am heading for Hong Kong, after that I don’t know where I will go – so marrying an army officer just does not fit into my career plans – you understand, don’t you?” she told him, “I do not want to regret by marrying an army officer.”
The investment banker girl looked at the dejected army officer and said, “Will you mind if I give you some advice?”
“Go ahead,” the army officer said.
“If you want to be happy, you better find a wife within the army,” she said.
“What do you mean?” the army officer asked.
“You should marry a female army officer. There are so many girls joining the army nowadays. So why don’t you find a bride in uniform – it will best for both of you.”
With these words she walked out his life.
So, the investment banker, the ambitious daughter of an army officer, the “army brat” – she did not want to regret by marrying an army officer.
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Updated and Revised Version of my Article “THE CHANGING FACE OF THE ARMY WIFE” posted in my blog on 22 Jan 2014 First Posted by at 01at url:
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