It was a chilly Thursday night and I was holed up in a tiny tent with Captain Sa’ab with nothing but a double blanket and an emergency lamp. I checked my phone, which had 4% battery left and I longed for the day when camping tents would come with a phone charging point.
That was my first night in Captain Sa’ab’s Unit after we got married. We were allotted a guest room during the day, but we returned after dinner to find that it was locked. Captain Sa’ab muttered under his breath, “I was expecting something like this,” when his junior came and told us that our arrangements for the night were made in that tent in the Mess’ garden.
It was 12.30 am, and we were about to call it a day when the regimental band, standing about 10 feet from our tent, pierce the silence with an ear-splitting performance of “Wo chaand khila wo taare hase“. At that ungodly hour, it didn’t even sound in tune.
They went on and finished the song… and then everything went back to being eerie. Pin-drop silence.
After 15 minutes, the band sprang into action again, this time with another classic song. Captain Sa’ab was muttering under his breath that all the band members are sure to run a BPET in the next two days if they dont stop now. I on the other hand was hysterical and very amused.
Another 15 minutes, and the band starts off with again. I think at this point they were expecting Captain Sa’ab to come out of the tent, say a few encouraging words and tell the band to go home. But our Captain Sa’ab decided he is not going to show his face to them, not tonight. “Bajane do inhe,” he said. “Dekhte hain kab tak bajate hain.”
The band was now desperate, they abandoned the lovely classics and doled out an absolute cacophony, playing all instruments in all possible tones. Total atyachaar! But we were also at our stubborn best that day. We both stayed in, and laughed and laughed some more… until our 2IC (2nd In Command of the unit) came out of his room and ordered the band to go away. He was staying in the mess as well, and the band broke his patience first!
And that’s how I was welcomed to fauj as a new bride.
Army, Navy and Air Force officers really know how to make a new bride the most uncomfortable on her first day/night, and go the extra mile to make amends there after for the rest of her life. Her entry into this crazy family is made memorable, a story she will always remember with a smile, (or a chuckle).
So step aside sasu maa… you have competition. You are in grave danger of being over shadowed by an officer’s Unit when it comes to troubling a new bride.
An officer’s unit make it crystal clear that, lady, you are in for a tough time, but what the hell, lets make that tough time fun! There are times when a unit will make your saas look like fairy godmother, you will feel like running towards her in slow motion and give her a jadu ki jhappi. And there are times when the unit takes care of you like a family member, helping you in times of need and celebrating every happy occasion.
When an officer brings his bride to the unit for the first time after the wedding, there are many unique ways in which the new lady is welcomed to the folds. Aim is to play every possible practical joke and then next day grin like nothing’s happened.
There was one time, when a senior lady dressed up like a typical saas-bahu vamp, with a big red bindi, red lipstick and penciled eyes, and made the new bride touch every officer and lady’s feet on her arrival to the unit. She tried to be as rude as possible and gave her a good dressing down the very first day. It’s a miracle the new one stuck around to laugh about it the second day.
Then there was this time when a new bride was asked to cook lunch in the officers’ mess for 30-odd guests on her arrival, saying that it was a unit tradition. Everyone was confused the next day whether they were being served rotis or papad.
I remember someone telling me that on their way to the unit location, the officer was asked to quietly get down at the previous station without telling his new bride. The poor girl somehow reached the unit by herself and told the other officers that her husband had gone missing. The naughty juniors then smeared her husband’s t-shirt in ketchup and asked the bride whether this blood smeared t-shirt belonged to her husband!
Though the juniors were spared, the husband became a punching bag for the furious bride. 😛
But this Sardarni takes the cake. After spending a almost a month honeymooning across the country, they finally returned to the squadron, where her pilot husband was posted. A costume party was organised for her in the mess and she let her hair down to dress up like a vampire. Guess what, everyone else turned up in uniforms and sarees!
Way to make your entry into fauj truly memorable.