Wednesday, June 5, 2013

THE NEW AGE “FAUJI” WIFE - The Story of a Modern Army Couple - Humor in Uniform

The Story of a Modern Army Couple
Short Fiction

1. Please read this only if you have a sense of humour.
2. This story is a work of fiction. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
3. No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2013 all rights reserved

Cast of Characters

H –  Husband  [An Army Officer – a Major (33)]

W – Wife  [The Army Officer’s “Fauji” Wife (30) – an MBA from a leading B-School, she is a career woman working for a top FMCG MNC]

The Major H and his wife W are sitting at the dining table, having dinner.

H: How was the day?

W: Hectic. Very Hectic. We’re running against the clock preparing for this sudden top level meeting. And how about you? How was your day?

H: Terrible. Just wasting time preparing for the Raising Day celebrations. The Old Man is all hyper – he is sweating for his ACR and is driving us crazy with his micromanagement. He wants Officers to do the job of NCOs. Today he made me stand all day to supervise the placing of flower pots in the officers’ mess garden – and he personally came there ten times to shout at me. It’s bloody humiliating. This peacetime soldiering gets on my nerves – it’s much better to be fighting in the field.

W: Anyway, keep your Saturday evening free.

H: Saturday evening?

W: Yes. We are having a big office party at the Taj. The head honcho and all the big shots are coming over from abroad. My boss has told me to bring you along – the head honcho wants to meet all the spouses. So get your best suit ready.

H: Are you crazy?

W: Why? What happened?

H: Our Raising Day Party is on Saturday evening. It’s the main function of the raising day celebrations and all the top brass is coming. I told you that long back, didn’t I?

W: Yes, you did tell me. But now this has suddenly come up. As far as I am concerned this office party at the Taj is an official function – you can say it is a working dinner, an essential part of my work – and I have to attend. And you better come too.

H: How can I come? I have to be present at the Raising Day party. Attendance is compulsory for all officers – it’s like being on duty. And remember, as an army wife, you are expected to accompany me to unit functions and social occasions. The CO has ordered that all wives are to be present for the Raising Day function. As it is, his wife is bickering at your absence from the rehearsals.

W: The CO has ordered? The bloody cheek! Who the hell is your CO to order me around? You are in the army. Not me. Do you understand? I am not in the army. I am free to do as I please. You just tell your CO that. And as far as rehearsals are concerned, please make it clear to his wife, that so-called “First Lady” of yours, that I have better things to do than parading myself on the stage displaying my physical assets and nor am I interested in prancing around in front of everyone lip-syncing those vulgar Bollywood numbers.

H: Okay. Okay. Don’t take part in the entertainment show. But you have to be there as a hostess.

W: Hostess?

H: Well, all lady wives are required to stand at the entrance to welcome the guests. And then you have to usher and look after the senior ladies. I think you have been especially allocated to look after the wife of the GOC. The 2 I/C said that you were the most polished and smart lady wife in the unit.

W: Hey, I think you are missing the point. I am not coming for your party. You are coming for my party.

H: No. You will have to come. It is your duty as an army wife.

W: Well, when I married you I made it clear that my career was important to me. Maybe other army wives like being “eye candy” appendages of their husbands but I do not intend playing “second fiddle” to you.

H: Please understand. The CO will spoil my ACR if you don’t come. He specifically told me that you are to be present for the Raising Day function. As it is he is angry that you don’t take part in AWWA and Ladies Club activities.

W: So how does it matter if he spoils your ACR. In any case, your promotions are by time scale and seniority – you just have to pass time and wait patiently for your turn and when your time comes you will be promoted in due course. For me, I have to slog hard against cutthroat competition and deliver results to earn every promotion. That’s why I am a senior manager today at such a young age, because of sheer performance and merit. And that is the reason why I earn more than double of what you get in the army. And I have much better career prospects than yours. My boss says that they consider me a high-flyer.

H: I know all that. There is no need to boast. If you don’t want to come, don’t come. I’ll make up some excuse.

W: Tell me one more thing – suppose you don’t attend your raising day party – what will happen?

H: Are you crazy? They will take action against me. They are sure to give me an adverse ACR.

W: But they can’t throw you out of the army, can they? Can they throw you out, just for not attending a party?

H: No. I don’t think they can.

W: In my case they can – my boss will fire me if I am missing when the head honcho wants to meet me. And if I make a good impression, the sky is the limit. There is a position open in Singapore and I have been short-listed. There are three others but I stand a good chance. That’s why my boss wants you to come – so the head honcho can size you up.

H: Size me up?  

W: I told my boss about you – that you were an engineer, an M. Tech. from an IIT and you were frustrated in the army doing mundane jobs.

H: Frustrated? Who told you that I was frustrated?

W: Didn’t you tell me how humiliated you felt when you were told to stand all day and supervise the placing of flower pots in the officers’ mess garden? And don’t they make you run the canteen? And make you do all sorts of odd jobs in the mess? Are these run-of-the-mill jobs worthy of an M. Tech. from an IIT? A brilliant guy like you is just wasting his time and withering away his life, and your talent is unappreciated and unrewarded.

H: But what can I do?

W: You come with me for my party on Saturday and meet the head honcho. Maybe he has something in mind for you – they may even make you an offer.


Let me give you two apocryphal endings to this story.

Ending 1

W like a dutiful “fauji wife” skipped her office party and accompanied her army husband H to the raising day party.

Her gesture was much appreciated by her husband H and with her poise and polish W succeeded in impressing the top brass and their wives and the CO was delighted with H.

Her boss was furious with W for being absent from the important event.

The head honcho expressed his disappointment at not meeting W.

Though the boss did not fire her, W was sidelined for the lucrative and coveted Singapore assignment and was passed over for promotion.

Frustrated at being marginalized, W quit her job and took up a new one, but now as far as her career was concerned, she decided to play second-fiddle to her husband’s career and put in all her efforts as a typical ambitious “fauji wife” to boost her husband’s career.

When her husband H was posted out, W quit her job, and gave up her career to become a full-time homemaker.

W now accompanies her husband wherever he is posted.

As an ideal “fauji wife” W  is playing a great role in bolstering and promoting her husband’s army career by her stellar participation in AWWA, Ladies Clubs and other social activities.

H and W lived happily ever after.

Ending 2

H did not attend the Raising Day party.

He accompanied his wife W to her office event at the Taj.

For this H was admonished by his CO who vowed to finish him off and ruin his career.

At the office party, W introduced her husband H to the head honcho.

Everyone was impressed by H.

There was a sudden announcement – W was promoted and given the coveted Singapore assignment.

And then, there was even more surprise – the head honcho offered H a very lucrative position, also in Singapore, so that they could live together.

W would be head of marketing and H would be head of technology.

H quit the army (helped by the adverse ACR his CO had given him).

H took up the job offer and joined W in Singapore.

W and H lived happily ever after.

Dear Reader:

What do you think happened?

Ending 1 or Ending 2 – which one do you think is more likely?

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2013
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this book review. 
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2013 all rights reserved

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About Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer and blogger. Educated at IIT Delhi, IIT (BHU) Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and an anthology of short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional  and academic research papers in journals and edited in-house journals and magazines for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing and blogging. Vikram Karve lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

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Kritika Jain, Arihant Events said...

I wish ENding 2 is the right one, but I think Ending 1 happened...

Vikram Waman Karve said...

Hi Kritika,
Ending 1 - why do you say so?
Do you feel the modern Indian woman is so submissive?
Meanwhile, a reader (an ex fauji) has suggested a third ending:
"I think the possibility is for another ending.
W goes for her party and H goes for his.
W's boss may be able to understand the circumstances in which the H could not attend.
But, H's CO get furious for W not attending the party and spoils his ACR & transfer him to a hard station."
Quite a sad ending, isn't it?
But he feels it is the realistic thing that will happen.
What do you feel?
Do give us your views.

Mahesh said...

I think Ending 1 is likely because W would be tuned to Army traditions more and knows that at some point she has to take a step back in her career.

Ending 2 and Ending 3, however likely, would be unfortunate for the country.

Vikram Waman Karve said...

Hi Mahesh,
You are right - in a patriarchal society like ours, the wife is likely to take a step back.
But times are changing.
Thanks for your comment

Anonymous said...

Dear Writer,
In Army it is 3rd option only. I am a brigadier's wife, a high level professional in my on career and option 3rd has practically happened with us. Never the less for all ladies, however humble is your job/ career, pl. respect it.

Vikram Waman Karve said...

Hi Anonymous:
Option 3?
Do you mean this third ending?:
Wife goes for her party and Husband goes for his.
Wife's civilian boss may be able to understand the circumstances in which the army Husband could not attend.
But, army Husband's CO get furious for Wife not attending the party and spoils his ACR & transfers him to a hard station."
This really happened?
Sad. Very Sad.
No wonder career girls don't want to marry army officers.
Like someone said: "An army officer's wife has only two choices - housewife or teacher".
Otherwise she has to be prepared for a long distance marriage.
You are very right when you say:
"however humble is your job/career, pl. respect it"
You must be appreciated for your views and dedication to your career.
Thanks for your comment.