India attacked Pakistan occupied Kashmir in a coordinated move with 12 Mirage 2000 planes bombing parts of the region around Balakot. While we, regular citizens, exult at the news of this mission, striking back in revenge for the recent Pulwama attack, there is another side to this. The side we don’t see, or perhaps even realise. That’s the side of the brave women whose husbands these brave men are. Those women who are waiting at home for them to return safe and sound, terrified of that phone which might ring at any moment bearing the news they all dread.
These are brave women, as brave as the men sitting in the cockpits of those fighter jets
These are brave women, as brave as the men sitting in the cockpits of those fighter jets, bearing within them the uncertainty of facing life after their husbands (or dads or brothers) if god forbid anything should go wrong, and yet, knowing that this is what a soldier’s life is. Risking death with every moment, this is what they are trained for, they are the reason why the nation is secure.
Staring at the TV screens later, these women wait for news, any news, some news that relieves the anxiety in their hearts. Says an army wife who spoke to SheThePeople. “I know that’s what my husband was always ready for. Prepared for,” says Anjali (name changed to protect identity on request).
“Our men will assure us of our safety but for themselves, they find security in large numbers. They are in it together. Along with their family, they have a commitment towards the nation.”
DUTY IS DUTY
“I only pray for his safety, because duty calls are important for the nation. It’s always nation first.” Anjali’s husband has had some prominent postings such as Doklam and Jaisalmer.¬† She says, “Our men will assure us of our safety but for themselves, they find security in large numbers. They are in it together. Along with their family, they have a commitment towards the nation.”
Anjali’s husband was posted in Sudan with UN Peacekeeping and there was tremendous pressure because people were being killed day in and day out. Two groups were at war and Indians stationed there saw big loss to lives. “The one thing that gives us assurance is that our husbands are not alone. We are also not alone because we have the armed forces and all other families together in the camp.”
She recalls even how when they moved to Doklam, with India-China relationships on the edge, they felt stronger together. “Our husbands were out in camps for weeks with an odd call after ten days just about to say they were okay. We live with our husband’s two lives. One is the one they have with their family, another with army. Additionally, our husbands don’t ever tell us anything as they are not supposed to. So being an army wife has its challenges but we hang on.”
Anjali says her children have grown up learning the basics of military life. “With power, comes responsibility. Every morning they find their father eager and enthusiastic to go to the field. To protect. To fight. Always fearless.”
Another soldier’s wife says, all their lives they prepare for such situations. “I am half the fauji, I have half the stars but my stars aren’t visible to people since I am not at the forefront,” says Sarah Rawat, whose husband serves in the Navy.
“With power, comes responsibility. Every morning they find their father eager and enthusiastic to go to the field. To protect. To fight. Always fearless.”
One occasion Anjali shares how they were to evacuate their homes during the 2016 Uri attack. Stations in Jaisalmer were on high alert. The 2016 Uri attack was an attack by heavily armed terrorists on 18 September 2016, near the town of Uri in Jammu and Kashmir. It was reported as “the deadliest attack on security forces in Kashmir in two decades.”
“It was so tough. And our families saw what it takes. We were scared to leave our homes. There was an unsaid curfew on us. We had to be careful about what we were speaking, who we were talking to on the phone. How we weren’t ourselves at all for months on end. But this was needed to make sure our husband’s work was not compromised.”
Anjali says morale is a complex thing. “Indeed, some of us are terribly scared. Some women are pregnant and living in fear about their husbands’ lives. Some are hugely insecure.” Anjali shares how women, like people, have their own insecurities and challenges. “We all look for assurances. Who wants her husband out for months? It’s not easy. That’s armed forces for you.”
“We all look for assurances. Who wants her husband out for months? It’s not easy. That’s armed forces for you.”
In the armed forces, women are either at the forefront themselves as soldiers or officers or they are the soldiers of the home who keep up the energy, momentum and morale. At times like this, when tensions are high, perhaps it is sheer morale that keeps these brave wives going through the uncertainty of it all.