Today we are united to celebrate the 73rd Independence Day. Taking this opportunity I would like to tell you what it means to be a fauji child and the freedom. 23 years of my life as a daughter of the Indian Air force personnel or rather BRAT, described as Born, Raised and Transferred and nothing has changed being a ex service men’s daughter. This defines some of us here completely. Considering my dad was constantly posted in field areas (borders), my mother brought us up like a single mom would. Home is where the army takes us and we have seen our moms create wonderful homes in whatever is given to us. “We lived a traveller’s life, moving from one place to other every two-three years until Dad retired from air force. As children, we never questioned the way we lived. If one was asked to move cities, one moved. If one was asked to change schools, one did. “I spent years of my life growing up across India. I’ve changed schools 6 times, even before I was in Class 11!”. “Life was pretty much lived within the camps or say cantonment. If I meet another person who also happens to be a defence kid, there’s just this immediate connection – no words spoken.” My paternal grandfather was an army man himself and followed by my uncle and dad and the family I’m married to be also from army personnel. I consider myself to be privileged.
Proudly saying my dad served in Indian Air force for 33 years and honoured to have a picture of him with our former hon. president Pranab Mukherji (group picture though). Even today he continues to work after retirement as a retainer in DRDO that speaks volume in itself. In short, a fauji always remains a fauji. As children, we spent many years without Dad whenever he was posted in forward areas. We don’t get the chance to talk to our fathers or mothers for days, which might turn into weeks simply because our fathers are posted in a place where network is a big issue or when they have to go on Temporary Duties (TDs) on a short notice or maybe because they are in the middle of an ambush somewhere. During the good postings, Dad would still be away for several months at a time on some camp or the other and that’s when my older sister had also passed away without my dad around.
The dependent ID was more like a VIP card to us. We also had access to places not open to civilians; aero show was our frequent visits. Whether it was watching night-flying while sitting on the edge of the runway, or going for a Sunday picnic to a prohibited area. No feeling will ever come close to sitting in cockpits of elite jets and helicopters.
The most terrifying to hear that someone you know has been martyred and experiencing a war cry.
We went to a dozen different schools but it was always either Kendriya Vidyalaya or Army public school or Air Force School. We went to school in ‘trucks’ and loved every minute of it and that was our shakitman. Namaste was the most greeted word to any aunty and uncle.
Uniforms! This is the most common thing for fauji kids. Since the time we are born, we’ve seen our fathers/ mothers in uniforms. We see our parents’ seniors and juniors in uniforms from time to time and it’s all very natural for us. We don’t just see the uniform, we can figure out a soldier’s rank with one look at his/her shoulder and how we learnt the different salutes between Army, Air Force Navy. Every fauji kid must have at least once found themselves in this situation. As fauji kids, we really become so comfortable with our lives in the army cantonments. Not to brag but, the cantonment is the most scenic and beautiful place of any station! The reaction we get when we say our fathers are in the Armed Forces, is priceless! Since the Fauji families have to move around a lot, every fauji kid has at least one significant memory of every station that they’ve been to. The cities on the map each have a story to tell.
We are used to tight spaces because we sometimes had to live with our entire family in one room temporary quarters with 10 trunks, MES furniture and the bed roll .Shopping meant just one thing. The CSD Canteen! Growing up, “I can ask my dad to throw a bomb on you,” was our favourite threat for your civilian friends. Thanks to moving around so much, we are an expert at transferring our entire house into crates and iron trunks. Every time I visit any army or air force campus, there is this unspoken emotion. The visit to the Closing Ceremony at India- Pakistan Wagah Border still remains afresh in memories and again that proud feeling.
Jai hind Sir ! Is the only term used to wish someone on or off duty. That one loud siren would just bring everyone on ground for emergency duty no matter where they are in the campus. We saw discipline and punctuality in there.
Yes, we don’t get to see our fathers often. We don’t get to spend time with them. We move from place to place like nomads, but despite of all this, we are proud to be fauji kids. We are proud of our mothers who remain so strong, always.
I can tie my childhood and experiences to saying that we don’t take the freedom and independence lightly, because we experienced the price paid for it, like all the sacrifices Indian armed force families make. And I wouldn’t trade my fabulous fauji ki life for anything in the world. And we are proud of ourselves, we are proud of our nation.
2nd yr MSCP