Indian Army is a very small community. Hence proved. My previous post, a review of the book ‘Soldier and Spice’ written by Aditi Mathur Kumar, was quite well recieved (well, tell me something new 😉 ) and I started making inquiries about the whereabouts of the author.
Info which the book failed to provide, I found thanks to social networking sites. Within hours I had my ‘Eureka’ moment. Aditi lives in my city, just a few kilometres away from my house. And then I started to freak out — should I have written Mrs Aditi Mathur Kumar in the email, adhering to army tradition (as opposed to just Aditi)?
The answer was perhaps staring at me all this while — a person who has written this bindaas book would have no time to dwell on such petty matters. In fact I once said Mrs Kumar and she was like, “Oh god not you too. Call me Aditi.” And my BP was back to normal.
A free spirit , a great gossiper, a quirky mother of a two-year-old and someone who calls a fauji spade a fauji spade — that’s Aditi for you. She can talk non-stop, which is why a one-hour meeting turned into a two and a half hour interview, not that I am complaining.
Now I just had to HAD TO ask her some questions, being the curious Army wife ;).
On how the book materialised: A friend of mine in Delhi, who had started an online rent-a-book service, suggested that I should write my experiences in the Army. So for quite some time I toyed with this idea, but started working on it only when I was pregnant and had nothing to do other than wait for the baby to arrive.
On central character Pia: It is not entirely based on me. I have combined many women’s experience. Almost all are true stories. Other characters are also based on people I have met over the years, which includes not just Army wives but civilians also.
On whether there’s anything about the Army that still amazes her: Oh no! I come across things all the time about our fauj which amazes me to no end. Specially the behaviour of Army wives never ceases to amaze me. Ladies’ attitude in some matters is shocking. There are times when I feel why can’t Army wives, who are quite well educated, fail to stand up for themselves.
On ladies being bullied by senior officers’ wives: It happens when ladies start misusing the power which is technically not even theirs. Their husbands must be senior officers, but that does not give them the right to boss over junior officers’ wives. I will never ask a wife of a junior officer to do something which I won’t do myself. Or which she doesn’t want to do. But not everyone thinks this way. Maybe this is one reason I have rubbed many people the wrong way.
On response about the book from within the army: It was quite well received. It is a nice feeling. There is a degree of cautiousness when you write a book about fauj, but since mine was an honest book about life of an Army wife, there were no problems. Many senior officers’ wives contacted me to congratulate me and said they have bought extra copies to give to junior officers’ wives.
We gossiped some more, but those stories are not something I can discuss here. They are as secretive as other matters of national security, and can only be talked about in hushed voices with other Army wives. 😛 I suggest you read the book, and if you feel particularly adventurous, write to her to coax her into writing another book about us. She has a Facebook page and can also be reached via email on firstname.lastname@example.org.