It was a cold end of October evening when I, as a new bride, reached the Jalandhar Cantonment station to start a life as a ‘fauji wife’, an army wife. Being a civilian with absolutely no exposure to the defence life, I was not sure of what to expect. But what happened within the next few minutes was way beyond my imagination.
As me and my brand new husband stepped onto the platform, he was whisked away by two men in uniforms. I stood there for a couple of minutes undecidedly, when two more people in Air Force overalls and peaked caps with the Indian Air Force insignia, came to me and started interrogating me. I was in a daze and answered all their questions in all honesty.
I was then, guided to a waiting ambassador with two uniformed personnel in the front - one of them holding an ominous looking gun. For the next 40 minutes, the vehicle moved through dark roads with fields on both sides, till we reached a big gate with numerous security guards. Once inside, I along with my bags, was unceremoniously dropped in front of what looked like a line of rooms with a long verandah with stairs leading up to it.
I sat alone on the steps for 20 odd minutes when people slowly started to filter in, talking in hushed whispers. I could make out sentences like, “We did not know that Pilot Officer B would do such a thing!” and “We never expected him to be a traitor!”
Soon again, one room was unlocked and I was escorted inside. Then began the second round of questioning, it seemed almost like the Spanish inquisition. All this while my husband was nowhere to be seen. I was asked whether I had seen money stashed away anywhere or whether I had been given money to spend. I came to know that my husband was accused of passing on classified documents to a neighbouring country. I was in a state of shock and not sure of how to react. I imagined my husband would be sent to prison and I would not see him for the next 20 odd years.
I was offered tea which I politely declined, a small part of me thinking that it may be mixed. This went on till midnight - alternating between being questioned on the money that was supposedly stashed somewhere and being asked whether I was hungry/thirsty.
Around midnight, the door to the room opened and in walked a couple of guys along with my husband grinning from ear to ear, carrying a cake which said, ‘Welcome Pallavy’. I was stunned for sometime till I figured out, that this was their way of welcoming me into their fold! They would have called it off, had I broken down and cried. So this is how I was welcomed to the army, as an honoured army wife.
The people who were responsible for the above prank, became life long friends. I have been on the other side of the party to such mischief, in the later years. I have lived in the most godforsaken of places, seen the Kargil war from up close, witnessed earthquakes and cyclones, lived on aerated drinks as there was no water and faced a dozen other situations as a fauji wife.
Pallavy Borah with her husband and son.
But I have enjoyed myself immensely, met some awesome people along the way and made great friends for life.
This is a personal narrative by Pallavy Borah, Delivery Head at SHEROES. Do you have such interesting anecdotes to share with us? We’d love to hear from you!