Tears to Cheers
At the age of 15, life as a fauji brat had taught me to make friends fast as I would lose them within the next two years to Dad’s next posting. I did my 12 years of schooling in 11 different schools. It was not possible to get emotionally attached to anyone or anything in a place because we were always on the move. I had already learnt to keep my friends at a distance because that way, when we left, it would hurt less.
I was always a bit of a tom boy preferring to play games like “Army Training” to “Ghar Ghar”. So it was assumed that I was the rough and tough kinds. I even had a favourite sticker which said “Anything Boys can do Girls can do better.” That is why it was a bit weird to be leaving the fold. To move away from the fauji way of life, the only way of life I had ever known. And I was petrified, not that I showed it but I was more scared than I had ever been in my entire life.
After I completed my tenth class from the worst school that I had ever studied in, I made the most momentous journey of my life. One which took me out of the Army Cantonments that I had grown up in. Away from the regiment and all its Uncles and Aunties who were like a second family. To a big city called Pune. To a strange experience of living away from parents for higher education. The mere thought was scary and challenging and taking me on a roller coaster of emotions.
At the Babina Railway station my father, who naturally did not get leave to come along, said one sentence to me before the train rolled out. I think he sensed the insecurities that were rumbling in my heart and head as we held hands with him standing on the station platform and me on the train. He said, “Remember you are less than nobody.” For a man who is known for his measured words and quiet persona it was quite a statement.
It also became my mantra for survival when I was surrounded by elder and more sophisticated cousins who had the big city all figured out. Thankfully I had continued in a school which had its own share of Army Kids, KVSC. So I was not a complete fish out of water. I put my heart and soul into all the sports and co curricular activities wanting to prove to the world that I was indeed less than nobody.
Each time I missed home I picked up yet another activity to try and excel at. I turned 16 and spent a year pushing myself to my limits. I was insecure about how good I really was. I missed my home, my parents and my familiar way of life. I was tired of having to look after myself and not have that warm hug at the end of the day from my mother. Emotionally I was all over the place and physically I was exhausting myself with all the activities that I had taken up. I was growing up faster than I ever had in the space of one year.
Finally by the end of eleventh class I was emotionally worn out and just burst out crying in the middle of the SUPW period. To say that my classmates were shocked would be an understatement. I howled for no reason apparent. Just sitting there and letting the tears rush out. I wasn’t thinking at all and the physical release of all that pent up emotion felt good. I calmed down, took deep breaths and felt rejuvenated.
Then I came back to the present and saw everyone staring at me. It was mortifying. The lady who taught us was a fauji wife herself and she took me aside and wiped my tears. When she asked me what was wrong, I said nothing. I may have lost it temporarily but I was back in control. A good cry can really help you release emotional stress like no other device I know. Of course it would be better to do it in a more private place.
The next big event in school was the selection of the school prefects for the coming year. I was confident enough of my position as one of the House Captains and thought no more of it till my Biology teacher called me to the Lab. There she asked me if I would have a problem becoming the School Captain.
The School Captain is usually chosen from those students who have been studying longer than a year in the school and I had never even entertained the idea. After the interviews were done I was selected the School Captain. The only thing I wanted to do was tell my parents. A deed easier said than done because STD had not yet reached the little town of Babina at that time. It took me the better part of 6 hours to patch up and finally get connected to the army phone at home.
When I managed to speak to my parents on the phone my mother was overjoyed that I had been nominated. Her excitement mirrored my own and then she handed the phone over to my father. I quickly announced my news to him. My father said just one word, “Good” but I could hear the pride in his voice and I could hear the echo of the words that he had said to me “Remember you are less than nobody.” I felt that I had validated his statement and his belief in me.
Author Bio – The writer is an Army Daughter and an Air Force Wife. She is also blogs at www.cashlash.blogspot.com. After working as a Travel Agent and an HR Trainer she is now a WAHM (Work At Home Mom) who does freelance writing projects.