Behold the service brats

My brother and I are what one is fashionably called these days as “Air Force brats”! Having the unique distinction of both parents as doctors serving the country in the armed forces, I think we have had a double dose of service life.

Stereo effect, so to speak. Life in the services is mighty interesting. We get to see and live in so many places, meet so many new people and learn so many languages.

At the same time, we learn to take the tough with the easy, learn to be compassionate and realise the true value of freedom. In short, we are adaptable, never mind the terrain.

What’s the thread that holds us services kids together? Well…the thumb rule is, politeness is our second name. We have to be the first to wish anyone and everyone ‘good morning’ or whatever the time of day it is.

If there is a party at home, you enter well dressed, wish everyone, sometimes sing or recite as requested, then wish everybody ‘good night’ and disappear…and be silent!

We had Defence quarters allotted to us in prime locations in whichever city we were posted. Metal trunks served as diwans, covered with a frilly cover.

Niwar cots, mosquito nets, prickly blankets; three tonner trucks that doubled as school buses; posting orders, new friends made and left behind every few years; the famous MI Room for fractures and gashes – all these had a constant presence in our lives.

Everyone had a scooter for daily use, while cars were strictly for special and family outings only.

Schooling in premier institutions was easily accessible, especially in our case. Both our parents would don their uniforms and present themselves to the Principal – and admission assured, pronto! I always suspected the principals gave us admission to avoid feeling unpatriotic.

We would look forward to the annual leave. In our case, it was rudely cut short on two occasions as war was declared and all officers were commanded to return to their bases. While we children were very disappointed and fumed, there was a commitment the armed forces personnel made to the country – service to the nation above self.

They had to be there to treat casualties and save lives in an hour of crisis. Now we understand the trials and tribulations they face in the time of war so that the rest of the world can live in peace.

It takes a ‘service brat’ to feel the differently exquisite sensation of national pride; when you witness a fly-past, formation flying or beating retreat. It goes way beyond merely being patriotic.

Recently, addressing some students Priyanka Chopra give a value based motivational speech, and she took immense pride in giving herself the same nomenclature of an ‘Army brat’.

Similarly, Sushmita Sen, Anushka Sharma, Gul Panag, Lara Dutta are a few of the strong, independent and successful women who very openly owe their foundation to the Services.

Bravo Armed Forces…you make the warrior and his family stand tall!

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