As a gawky school girl she gazed adoringly at cousins, who had returned home from the NDA. It was her teenage crush to marry a man in uniform. Lily candidly bares her heart about a teenage crush. When suitable matches were being searched, she told her parents that she would love to be married to an army man. An aunt become the matchmaker. A turbaned and bearded young Sikh captain on a field posting somewhere in the upper reaches of the snow clad Himalayas was selected. And they got married fulfilling her starry-eyed romance. Here’s an exclusive account in Different Truths.
I was this gawky girl with oily pigtails and fading school uniforms, gazing adoringly at cousins, who came home from the National Defence Academy for a short break. I think it was about that time that I decided in my doggedly obstinate mind that I simply had to marry an army officer when I was all “grown up”.
The thought became a dream when I was fortunate enough to attend a passing out parade of the young cadets, who would soon proudly march out as officers. There was a stream of spit and polish in the ocean of marching cadets in the immaculate grounds of the Indian Military Academy. Closely cropped hair, trim physiques with eager eyes waiting to rush out of these confines and splash their energy into the big bad world.
The last step out of the Chetwoode Hall was the most miraculous and sentimental moment. This last step changed their lives forever.
The strains of Auld Lang Syne reverberated in the atmosphere. Parents and siblings, who had come to witness their boys become men were moist eyed and proud as peacocks. The parade was so perfect that not an arm rose above the desired level and not a foot faltered in its step. The orders were roared out aloud in stentorian tones as the heels clicked in unison.
The evening was even more magical. Fireworks were displayed as the pipping ceremony was conducted. Mothers with lumps in their throats pinned the shining brass stars on their son’s shoulders. With whoops of merriment and unadulterated glee, the fresh young lieutenants jumped up in the air to proclaim their joy. Caps were hurled high above amidst much back slapping and bonhomie. Testosterone was running amuck.
As the fireworks adorned the skies in Dehradun that ethereal evening, my resolve to marry an army man was strengthened. The glamour of the proverbial brass buttons had me hooked for life. The bronzed and tanned boys became my heroes and an army uniform took me to fantasy land. Well, to put it lucidly, since those days arranged marriages were more the norm than the exception, I declined many proposals that my parents thought were ideal matches. A bureaucrat was too starched, a banker too unexciting according to me. I did finally tell my parents that I would love to be married to an army man. The hunt started afresh and an aunt become the matchmaker. A turbaned and bearded young Sikh captain on a field posting somewhere in the upper reaches of the snow clad Himalayas was selected out of a suitable repertoire. Since this aunt and my would-be husband’s sister were pals, a meeting was arranged for a date when the soldier would be home from the high altitude field posting. It would be pertinent to mention that I had already been selected as a bride by my sister-in- law. She thought I was perfect army wife material for her brother.
The rest as they say is history. A hasty engagement had to be organised after detailed perusal and interviews of the uneasy and squeamish boy in question, by my extended family. I almost had cold feet when I saw the ridiculously loud and big check coat which the gentleman in question was wearing. I was dolled up in my mother’s borrowed green chiffon saree. Everything was like a scene out of a Hindi film. Arranged marriages in India in our times would be a wee bit strange for the modern folks.
The haste was due to the miserly leave provided for bride hunting to the young Captain. A date for three months later was decided upon for the wedding. That event was jaw dropping crazy! The wedding cards had been printed but there was no sign of the groom as he seemed to be getting no leave. His pleas had made no headway with the superiors for some reason. The last minute arrival of the groom after trudging through snow to catch an Air Force plane meant that he got wedded in clothes that were not his size! He was married in trousers riding high over his ankles for they were his brother’s.
I did marry an army man and life was a roller coaster just as I had wanted it to be!
Pix from Net.