One certainly needs to be the destiny’s child to have a smooth sail over the tumultuous facets of life, which I never was and to increase the severities, I received no emotional back up from the home front. But I guess, the tougher things get for me every time, stronger it makes me and yes more determined which transforms it into a battle with life. Life which keeps presenting hurdles to pin me down but I keep moving ahead in pursuit of my dreams. It happens always, only sometimes the tussles are short lived and at times they continue with difficulties at each step but one thing is common, all my dreams have made me struggle. The more I struggle, the sweeter the achievement becomes. At times my deep inner self questions my being for being so different, but I proudly rub it off, for being uncommon I have always loved and this is the story of one such offbeat chase which shaped me for my entire life, in fact became my way of life thereafter.
Being in uniform had always been a fantasy, but it took the shape of an intense desire when I wore it for the first time during my NCC days. At home, indulgence into any non academic activity was always discouraged but this one received a nod due to the various career benefits it offered to a ‘C’ certificate holder. But when I bagged the opportunity to represent my state in the RD parade camp in New Delhi, it wasn’t that easy. The age old formula worked even this time when my instructors and friends managed convincing my parents. It was a different flight altogether which livened up my dreams. My first real life encounter with the men in olive greens accentuated the madness which was much beyond the charm of the uniform. And I came home with a dream embedded in me, to be an Army officer.
There are dreams which won’t let you sleep and this one entirely took it from me. The obsession had possessed me but it required courage to leave a cushioned and well laid out life to the rigours of becoming a soldier. I was doing my post graduation in computer application, working part-time as a computer instructor, pursuing the DOEACC ‘A’ certification course and in between sneaking out time for another passion of mine, dancing. Life was moving on a perfectly designed schedule when I realized that this is not where I belong to. My secret desire had transformed into my fixation after my exposure to the army life in RD camp but somehow could not gather enough strength to announce it to my folks at home. I had always made choices which were different from others but this one surely was the biggest of them all. But I was not able to give up on it and it started affecting my performance in the studies and work, both. I secretly filled in the application for the Short Service Commission for women officers but couldn’t keep it under wraps for a long time as finally I had to go to face the SSB (Service Selection Board). Boys were known to opt for the life of an Army man but for girls it still was a ‘hush hush’ affair. This was a battle which I had to fight alone and when I broke the news at home, surprisingly the response was quite unexpected. My father believed that I will never be able to clear SSB and my aspiration will die its own natural death as all the known boys from friends and family came back home on the very first day of the board, not being able to clear even the screening. A similar fate was expected for me but I stunned everybody by managing a clear win the first day. There was inexplicable silence on the phone when I announced that I will be staying for the interview, a little longer. And thereafter the grilling session for the next few days which judged us on the various psychological, analytical and behavioural aspects was a learning experience in itself as it helped me to know myself in many unexplored ways. It sealed my life forever, and by the end of it I was sure of my decision but the result was yet to be out. On the result day, some hundred plus of us were seated in a hall where the judgment was to be declared. I was shaking with nervousness and counting all religious names. Four chest numbers were announced, my heart was racing with supersonic speed, hoping for a miracle as what we heard that generally four were selected in a batch and the mike creaked with one more which was not mine. By this time I had edged on the brink of the chair and with the last name shook my head. I didn’t have the courage to look around and see the officers moving out after declaring the results and then I heard, “The last one to make it in this batch is”. The number was announced but as if my ears were numb and refused to hear when the officer repeated the number as no one stood after the first calling out. The girl sitting ahead of me turned back and shook my desk, “Hello, your number is being called, stand up”. “Yes” I shouted and stood there confirming my details as the officer called them out one by one. Tears rolled down my eyes and I stood there still in the most pleasant surprise ever. Six selections in one batch! I couldn't believe it. Some girls were crying because they had not made it but mine were tears of happiness. My biggest dream had come true but even a bigger task at hand was to break the news at home. I was selected but there were choices to be made which would have lead me to different directions altogether and I did make one by opting to don the olive greens and make it the colour of my life in the days to come. I did choose to live my dream for next ten years which undoubtedly remain as the best decade of my life.
Home front? Oh! That was even a bigger success as my parents became so proud of me on clearing the SSB. No one from my family had ever been able to do that and in fact there were men in junior ranks but beginning of officer cadre was going to be marked by me. By the time I reached home, my success story had been flaunted all over the clan. If you desire something deeply, the universe conspires to make it happen. In my case, my family, my universe came around to join me in my most glorified win.
Me with my parents on the day of commissioning. A proud moment indeed.
This post has been written for the Week end prompt of Blogadda.‘I was inspired to follow my dreams’