27 things I Didn’t Know About Being an Army Wife

Being raised as an army brat, I thought I knew everything there was to know about living the ‘army’ way. But I was so delusional. Life of an army wife is nothing like that of an army kid. It’s like when Lucy from Chronicles of Narnia enters the closet and steps into a world which might as well be on a completely different planet, in a galaxy far, far away, in a parallel reality. I’m sure you get the picture! No matter how confident you are while embracing this role — whether having lived life as an army kid or having received a comprehensive breakdown of its ways by friends married into army families — nothing can prepare you for what is about to become your new life. You will make mistakes, be clueless, mess up protocol and question your sanity. But like they say, fall down seven times, stand up the eighth time.

This life is a roller coaster ride with its highs and lows, unexpected turns and gut-churning twists but it is a ride you will never get enough of. Here are 27 things which came as a surprise when I became an Army wife:

  • If you thought you were well-traveled and well aware of cities in your country, think again. There were places where we got posted, which I never heard of, couldn’t pronounce and sometimes couldn’t even find on the map.
  • Packing and moving and unpacking. At the literal drop of a hat.
  • While setting up home at a new station, you almost never go ‘all out’ because you know it’s temporary and before you even know it, you will be moving again.
  • While you may moan about moving so much, having to stay more than two years in a single place tires you to the bones and you will be wishing for a posting. Weird but true!
  • Your kids will have to change at least 10 schools by the time they graduate from high school.
  • Having come back to a previously lived station will almost feel like being home.
  • You will have at least one item of furniture in your household belonging to the MES (Military Engineering Services) at any given station. These vary from patio chairs to book shelves to sofas to beds.
  • You can make any place habitable. It’s like your own extra special, super power.
  • You don’t have a permanent address and leave a trail of addresses behind you.
  • If you are someone like me, you shop online — a lot. This means confusing online sellers and retailers because your delivery address keeps changing all the time. And also, because your postal addresses just sound weird!
  • Weekending means traveling 6 hours or so on each side just so you can meet family.
  • The frequency of how much you will travel is just insane! You will take road trips all over the country and in a couple of years, you will look forward to them. Surprise, surprise!
  • Your ID card will become your most valuable possession.
  • You will form lifelong friendships with fellow bhabiyan. These are the people who will be your family away from family. You will move to a new place with exactly zero friends in the area and have a posse by the time you move again. You will laugh together and be each other’s shoulder to cry on when things get tougher.
  • Having to move time and again will make you self-reliant and confident.
  • So many high teas!
  • You will become fluent in the ABCs and XYZ of the military language in no time. ‘No, he didn’t go to the office today, he’s on SIQ. ‘Are you wearing the CCD tomorrow or the khaaki?’ You can also differentiate between ranks that go on a Mess Kit and the ones that go on SD.
  • You will decipher the army timing sooner than you think. ‘ETA is 1530 hours? Gotcha!’
  • Finding stuff broken while unpacking is the new normal. Glasses, vases, mirrors, chairs, table legs; you will just make a list and get to fixing them without shedding tears like the first few times.
  • You will become your own handyman after a while. You will unclog drains, fix pipes, use the hammer, hang up the curtain rods and turn on the generator all by yourself. Before shaadi to an army wala, you didn’t even know where paani ki motor ka switch was. But look at you now! Your daddy will be so proud!
  • Bugs, bees, cockroaches, lizards, mice, spiders. You fear nothing!
  • Plans? What plans? You will never plan for anything in advance. Everything sort of comes together in the last five minutes. Always!
  • Deciding to own a pet will be a tough decision to make. Finding a place to leave the pet at while weekending or while you are away for a longer period, finding a decent vet in the area and if the next station will even have enough space for you to keep the pet, are just some of the many concerns to pet owning in the army life.
  • At some point, your husband will take you to the firing range and you will hold, aim and fire an actual weapon. 
  • Your marriage will not be a normal one by any means. You will live apart from your spouse, months at a stretch, and will have to be stronger than you ever believed yourself to be for the sake of your family.
  • Patriotism will seep into your very core.
  • Being an army wife will transform you as a person. You will become a stronger, more capable and courageous version of yourself.HH

The writer is a bibliophile and an educationist. 
E-mail:[email protected]

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