Wives of naval officers spend a lot of time away from their husbands and play both mother and father to their children
The wives of naval officers are a unique lot. They are independent and happy and sport a smile on their faces. But behind the veil of happiness and laughter, all is not fine.
To be a successful naval wife you need to know how to be both mother and father to your kids, balance the cheque book, pay the bills on time, take care of the car insurance, socialize with friends and be a responsible member of society . In fact, being a naval wife may be the toughest job in the Navy!
Says Amrita Warikoo, aerobics instructor from Vizag , “When people ask me if I am working or not, I say yes, I am a naval wife, and that I think is the most demanding job in the navy because most of the time I am single parenting. I know how tough it was to bring up my two daughters single-handedly.”
“I remember I once met with a terrible two-wheeler accident and I had fractured my left wrist,” she adds. “My husband was sailing. It was my friends who took me to the hospital. I had to cope with frequent transfers, too. I could take up a career only when my elder daughter turned ten years old. But I absolutely don’t have any grievances regarding this.”
Being a naval wife teaches you to adapt to frequent change of houses, transfers, change of schools for children and uncertainties of all kinds. You are expected to be a supportive partner to your husband and not blame him for his job and erratic schedules.
Shelly Choudhury, human resource consultant, says, “When my husband went to Chennai for sea time for more than a year, I managed both home and outside. But definitely friends are my support system. They have been there for me through thick and thin. Being in the Navy has taught me what community living is all about. We have pot luck together, we go shopping together and most importantly we are there for each other even if one of us has to rush to the hospital in the middle of the night.” Birthdays, anniversaries and festivals can be missed, but your friends are there for you and the Navy is like an extended family. A naval wife holds the family together when her husband’s career takes him to faraway lands and there is absolutely no way he can get in touch.”
"Single parenting is a very common phenomenon in today's world but for a fauji it has always been a part and parcel of their lives," says Anjali Chanana Sud, a teacher from Vizag. “When God blessed us with a daughter we were elated. But just after her first birthday, my husband proceeded to a non-family station for two years, and two years of our family life just disappeared… a big slice of life, isn’t it? My little one grew up thinking that her father lived in the computer, since we were speaking on Skype! Thanks to technology. Life as a single parent is a balancing act every day, with kids, a job, home needs, social circle, etc., but nonetheless, however challenging it has been, it certainly has groomed me into a stronger individual.”
Many naval wives have demanding careers too and it can be heart breaking when they have to give up their jobs because of a husband’s transfer.
Still, most of them learn not to be consumed by the thought ‘why me’ because it is a choice they have made in life and they cannot afford to crib about it. Geetika Baluni, a teacher, says, “In my sixteen years of marriage we have hardly spent two or three marriage anniversaries together. Life is definitely tough. Tears, frustrations, loneliness and sadness are there, but at the same time I am proud to be a naval wife because I feel I am contributing to my motherland in my own way.”