Army Wives On The Risks Of Being In The Line Of Duty
The nation woke up to the news of 12 fighter jets crossing the LoC and destroying a JeM training camp in Pakistan. The IAF strike, which comes almost a fortnight after the Pulwama attack, is being called a preemptive action targeted at Jaish camp based in Pakistan. It is also said to be the first cross-border air strike India has carried out in nearly five decades.
SheThePeople.TV spoke to some Indian women whose husbands are working in the defence forces, to understand the kind of thoughts that cross their mind and how they deal with the constant uncertainty. As the spouses of personnel in the line of fire, theirs are the first families to know and live with the risks that being in the line of duty entails. For the wives of these brave men, it means putting their emotions on hold and sending their men off to their duty with smiles on their faces, and waiting for them to return, whilst bracing themselves simultaneously for the dreaded news that they might not.
Manoeuvring through life single-handedly is definitely a challenge
“Well, it is not easy when they not around. You may have to drive yourself to the emergency room in the middle of the night when your ninth month is running. You may have to quit your dream job because you do not want to miss the opportunity of being together during a family station tenure or like in my case after and before every flight I travel hundreds of kilometres to spend time with him,” explains Rashmi Patwal, wife of an army officer.
You may have to quit your dream job because you do not want to miss the opportunity of being together during a family station tenure. – Rashmi Patwal
She also mentions how they have to constantly reply to intrusive, insensitive questions from people about their deployment. While manoeuvring through life single-handedly is definitely a challenge, staying optimistic about the future is another life skill they imbibe with time.
Keeping yourself positive
“During such testing times, you learn to ignore and avoid any negative thoughts. You speak with other army wives. You pick up your hobbies, you do anything possible to keep yourself positive,” Rashmi shares on how she coped with her husband’s absence.
Journalists on news channel are sounding so excited abt the air strike. And all I can think of is the retaliation that’s sure to come and how many people I know will have to risk their lives.
— OvenTikka (@TandooriCutlet) February 26, 2019
My memories of an Air Force Station don’t include celebration when there was a sign of conflict. All I remember is sirens, everywhere, the disappearance of fathers for weeks, months on end, and the gloom of uncertainty. Hard to feel triumphant at the possibility of one now.
— Nikita Saxena (@nikita1712) February 26, 2019
Dealing with Anxiety
Speech Language Pathologist & Audiologist Pratiksha Gupta bubbles with delight, calling herself an ‘Airforce wife’ and an ‘army sister’. She says that seeing her brother and her husband off every morning to work instils in her a sense of pride. She, however, confesses that there is a deeper gush of energy praying for their safety.
“When they leave for advanced operations and outstation tasks, I’m gripped with an unexplainable anxiety that lingers on until they are both back home.” – Pratiksha Gupta
She also disclosed that two of their close pilot friends passed away in unfortunate Aircraft crashes and she couldn’t pass a single day without remembering them. “We are a big military family, and each sad incident is my own and it shakes me to the core,” she said.
Sarah Nitin Rawat is a mother to a two-and-a-half-year-old and her husband is a commander in the Navy. According to her, army wives are a courageous lot. “When our husbands wear the uniform and leave for the day, we have no clue whether they will return. We are anxious that a phone will ring and carry some news for us. In fact, I believe wives of soldiers are half faujis too. Just that our stars aren’t visible on our shoulder,” she said.
“I believe wives of soldiers are half faujis too. Just that our stars aren’t visible on our shoulder.” – Sarah Nitin Rawat
Besides this, she wants us to introspect and realise that war is not a solution to end the ongoing tension between the two countries. “Do we think of the martyr’s widow when we seek a war. When there is a war only a soldier will be at the forefront. Who will die? A soldier. Who will lose a husband, a wife? Whose children will become orphans, a fauji’s. What purpose does war serve?” she asks compelling us to delve deeper into the repercussions of the war that are limited to the soldiers’ family.
We can only imagine the grip of fear the families of army officers live with. The fear of not knowing whether this would be the last time you see your husband off, the uncertainty of waiting for their return, a sudden news that can destroy their universe are some of the stark realities army wives grapple with each day. It is a hard time especially for those army wives who also shoulder the responsibility of a family and children to feed and take care of.