An Army Wife Never Gives Up

“Army wife? Army wives never give up but what about army widows? For whom should they remain strong and hold their head high?”

It was an open space beyond the dappled shadows and thick canopies. There was some sort of spell in those fluffy clouds. Otherwise, the sudden urge to scoop a handful of them wouldn’t have sprouted in her. She knew that.

She just sat down on the moss-clad rocky stairway, waiting, as if a pair of wings would sprout on her back any moment and she would fly up to scoop the cloud. When the wind became curious, she just let her stray hair strands caress her face. Her years-long pet peeve evaporated into the thin air, and she didn’t even realize it. Just as some faint footsteps drew near, a familiar fragrance shrouded her. She looked over her right shoulder. In that weary evening, he stood there like a fresh morning. His eyes were calm and rimmed with affection. He sat down next to her. After a moment of silence, he gently took her palm in his.

“Your palms are cold,” he stroked the back of her palm, tenderly.

“Yours are warm. Like always.”

“Are you upset with me?” His long eyelashes didn’t flutter for a long moment, as if memorizing every curve of her face.

“Should I be?”

“I do understand. The worst thing you could do to a person is to keep them waiting. Give them hope, put them on hold while you serve your priorities,” he sighed to let the reality sink in. “If I were in your shoes, I don’t know if my perception of life would be the same.”

“Even if I were in your place, I’m not sure my perception of the world would be the same either.”

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There was so much left to be shared. So much left to be said. So much left to be heard. But they just let the silence percolate into every part of their being.

“Everyone back home must be looking for you,” he stood up and turned to her.

As if in a trance, she clasped his palm and stood up. She walked alongside him through the dirt road. When was the last time they walked hand-in-hand? Her mind went blank. She couldn’t recall. The grip on her palm was comforting and all of her concerns disappeared into the pit of her stomach. Just as they took the left turn on the lane, she came across her mother. More than the sudden appearance and embrace of her mother, the fading grip on her right palm alarmed her. She tilted her head and looked around. He was nowhere to be found. In the distance, she could see the backyard of the house. The house that turned into her home.

“Where have you been, Diya? Raghav ji saw you leaving your handbag by the gate… I…I got you,” her mother whimpered into her hair.

Before she could verbalize her frustration, she was brought into the home, through the backdoor. She walked into a series of familiar faces, nested on the various corners of her home. Everyone was waiting for her. Every pair of eyes fell on her, and soon the weight of the gazes became unbearable. An urge ignited in her. She hurriedly made it to the bedroom and closed the door behind her.

The moodiness of the sky slowly penetrated through the window and the room tripped a foot more deep into affliction. Cocooned in the corner of the bedroom, on the cold floor, she felt like being trapped in a cobweb. Several minutes crawled by. Every minute brought with it diverse decibels of voices. Whimpers hushes, sobs, and the occasional squeaks of the wooden door kept the air agitated. Yet, the bizarre thought kept resurfacing in her mind, whether the insects trapped in the cobweb ever try to wriggle out of it or they readily accept the fate and wait for the spider to ravish them. She sat there idle, without even a slight wriggle to get out of the web of uncanny thoughts.

Except for the occasional silent surveillance, no one stepped into her private space. The tips of her fingers and toes tingled. She felt alien in her own body. Leaning back on the wall, she skimmed through the bedroom; their bedroom. She has never seen anything in the room out of its place. A little misplacing of things from here to there irked him effortlessly. He would roll his eyes and proceed to arrange them. The borderline of OCD has been a funny topic between them, especially in the anecdotes from the military camp. Eleven months of marriage had the constant longing factor between them.

It was the undying love and longing for each other that bound them together over mountains and miles. At times, he would tease her, quoting some funny instances, and she would bless it with a lazy punch on his arm. She was aware that being an army wife calls for immense patience and selflessness. Even though she came across a string of unpleasant objections on the path, their wedlock was the leap of faith she had taken. They were in love. Loving someone and letting them put the nation first is divine. But that divinity didn’t ease her affliction. Every square inch of her body ached. They don’t deserve this.

The squeaky door snapped her back into reality.

With a weary glance, she caught the glimpse of two saree-clad women fading behind the door. A stir arose from her chest. She wanted to yell at them to keep calm, as she was not going to cut the vein or hang herself.

An army wife never gives up.

But her inner voice dried up in the throat itself. Every tongue was speaking of her. She will be dissected henceforth, and that’s how it is. That’s how it has been. She gasped and took in a mouthful of air, hoping that it would ease the burning in her chest. But it didn’t. Within no time, a flare coursed from the intestine to her throat.

“Army wife? Army wives never give up but what about army widows? For whom should they remain strong and hold their head high?” a resentful voice reverberated from her being.

Hours back, when one of the reporters asked her to be brave and be proud of the sacrifice of her late husband, an inexplicable sting coursed through her spine. No woman feels pride upon losing her love. But the nation doesn’t understand. Since Kargil, hundreds of army officers have embraced martyrdom. Their devotion to the motherland is glorified. People and media glorify them at the initial week of martyrdom and for the next few years. As long as they hold news value, they get remembered on their death anniversaries and special occasions. And after that, they no longer are even a passing memory among those millions of people for whom they’ve sacrificed their lives.

She wished she hadn’t overheard all those concerns of the mourning crowd.

The mourning relatives and neighbours. People. Some were relieved that she was young and financially stable. Some considered her being beautiful and widowed as a probable threat to her. Some considered her fortunate for not having any children, as it would have hampered her prospect of getting a second chance in life. Some blamed her decision of choosing to marry an army man.

And yes.

If these people coincided in any opinion, it was that they were proud of her late husband; the martyr. The Pulwama Hero. Son of the nation. They say that he has not died. He has been martyred.


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Image source: CanvaPro

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About the Author

Meera J R

Meera finds solace in writing. Everything she writes has a degree of truth in it and comes from her personal experiences. Often, she shares her writings on her Instagram account @meera_jr. read more...

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