“We’ll be shifting to a new city in a month or two”
“But dad, I don’t want to leave my friends”
“Sweetheart this is how our life is ”
Relating yourself to this conversation? Then you are probably a defence kid.
My family is one among the millions of military families. There’s always a long pause and an awkward silence when I’m asked about my origin and that is when I come up with answers like “oh! I belong to everywhere and nowhere in particular”. And then yes the long and boring answers to my whereabouts continue. Shifting to a new place every two or three years is very annoying when you’re a small kid, but you get used to meeting new people, changing schools and the nomadic lifestyle.
Every new transfer teaches you many things in life and yes it’s a new chapter after all. Growing up like this teaches you a lot about people and life and you understand that it’s your parent’s work that demands you to shift from one place to another. We would always have limited choices when it comes to choosing a school: the Kendriya Vidyalayas or the air force school. I’ve always been a proud KVian, it’s a different experience altogether.
I can proudly say that I’m a great gambler! No, not the typical gambler but yes the Tambola one. Parties are incomplete without a round of Tambola thus making us a pro since the age of 6. You easily get used to the tight spaces and the two-room quarters in which you have to live for months sometimes and yes not to forget the huge iron trunks. Shopping for us is always one word – the CSD canteen. You realise its worth when you go out in the civil world and spending so much on things hurt you a lot. And it sometimes kills you inside when you have to pay like 300 bucks for a movie ticket because it’s mostly free or as cheap as 50 bucks in the defence theatres.
Playing indoor games is never our cup of tea, since childhood we’ve tried almost all the adventure sports like trekking, rock climbing, monkey crawling, river rafting, shooting etc. Apart from all of these, we would always have a list of festivals to celebrate and parties to attend. Our encounter with too many cultures helps us to appreciate the diversity, unlike our civilian counterparts who wouldn’t have moved as much as we would have.
I remember going to restaurants twice or thrice every month with mum and dad for learning table etiquettes and not for some silly celebrations. After living this life for so many years we ace the art of hearing an aeroplane and guessing its name and yes not to forget that you can’t beat us at the game of guessing the ranks just by seeing it on someone’s shoulder.
There’s a famous line that we usually hear, that “our clothes never get old because our clothes are brand new to the people of the new place where we get transferred”. I’ve never hated this life because I know it’s the call of the duty.
I have mostly been asked about the perks and facilities that I get, but people have a tendency to notice only the brighter side. They never notice that it’s the life of my dad that is at stake. It might sound very cliché if I say that the nation sleeps a sound sleep only because our soldiers stay awake and guard our nation. I know how it feels when you hear the tragic news of the death of your friend’s father in a plane crash, all you can do is move on with your life and come out stronger.
I have had many sleepless nights when my dad was out during the exercise or the TDs. People don’t choose defence forces for all the facilities and perks but for the sake of serving this nation in spite of knowing that they are putting their own life at stake. Not everybody joins the military with the idea of serving; they develop it with the course of time.
By Shweta Kataria