Titles are ultimately empty unless they are not learnt how to be enjoyed and performed while going through different circumstances with strong will and courage. Some titles are not official but they seem to be official due to some specific ways of life and responsibilities which require the quality of leadership and management. One un-official title is ‘an Army Wife’.
Living the life of the military wife is certainly commendable as well as honored. Life of every wife is not same but the atmosphere they get and circumstances they meet is most of the time same for all wives. The time which I spent as a military wife is no doubt gratifying including all the ups and downs, moments of pleasures and fears, managing events, running and commanding Troops Family Welfare Center, organizing Exhibitions, designing and arranging Officer’s Messes, and above all enjoying in Ladies Clubs. Things learnt in the duration of six years army life were far more than what I learnt in seven years teaching experience in different colleges and university. If the status of an ‘Army Wife” is being enjoyed considering it a Title though un-official, with its responsibilities, it would groom the personality with the inner satisfaction throughout the life. Sometimes in cantonments, responsibilities are imposed to the wives. I was also imposed duties by having the management of an army institute TFWC (Troops Family welfare Center) being the wife of a Lt. Colonial; in addition, arrangements in Officer’s Mess and ladies club. It was difficult to leave a college job, for army activities, which gave pleasure of pay in the end of month. But it was husband’s order as he was ordered by his seniors. So, willingly or unwillingly, I had to move ahead. The first day in TFWC was with mixed feelings when I saw my office and an old building with many people there including teachers, students, tailors, a doctor with nursing and some labors. Some weeks were spent only in understanding the matters but gradually I understood the destiny which plays in every one’s life. I was given a chance by the Nature to command and prove my role in a small significant place. And that made all the difference. Workers, locals, juniors and seniors all were already used to see the change in administration and many knew how to work with the new person. Some were hard workers, some were cheaters, and some were flexible in work. But I had to work with them giving them space and taking work by them. Mother Teresa said;’ Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are endless.” People enjoy affirmation from a peer, but they really value it from their leader. Becoming the chief encourager of the people on you team, they will work hard and strive to meet the positive expectations. Moreover, Trust is the foundation of Permission. Trust is required for people to feel safe enough to create, share, question and attempt. In some months, I felt a very positive change in the working environment of center. That was my success. But unluckily all senior wives were not happy. This remained the unfulfilled desire of senior wives to enjoy protocol with tea parties in center. Another utmost desire of the senior wives was the stitching of their clothes first of all in the list by the tailors and workers which was also not fulfilled by me. Result was their angry mood. This is the beauty of army that ways of corruption are so limited as compared to civil that they don’t find them even if they are prone to. It was the center for the welfare of the poor troops families. So I decided to open different classes including vocational training, English language classes, cooking classes and personal grooming classes. It is said about army wife, ‘a force behind the forces’, but I say the force behind my actions and rules was my husband who gave me free hand to open missiles for the Right. This would not be fair here not to discuss Shahab Nama who gave me a way with will to take stand for the Right especially the chapters when Qudratullah Shahab was deputy commissioner in Jhang.
A book can be most influential when it would be read in that specific period of time when things in realty go on as it is in relation to the events described in the book.
With the passage of time, all the Houses, seniors, juniors, doctors and all who would visit center realized the value of rules happily or unhappily. Self-satisfaction is the most important thing in the world.
Ladies club and interior designing of Officer’s Mess is another task for army wives. These women may or may not join wives clubs, but they understand the importance of friendship and what military life has to offer. In stark contrast, some wives avoid such work and dwell on misery. Mostly army wives develop strong friendships that last through the many moves, distances and circumstances. Living away from their own families, they rely on friendships which are much helpful during the time of need. Travelling and visits of new places is another advantage of military life.
Another role of army wife is to be a part and have good connection with the husband’s office and job. This is especially for those ladies who themselves work under army environment as I was managing an army institute. In such circumstances link with Unit is obvious. Love and trust is a story of every home in cantonment. Wives always remain conscious about the news of the husband either personal or related to office. Some years ago, during the days of new appointments, news travelled from Unit to TFWC that a lady worker is appointed in the Unit. News was hot. All the officer’s wives whose husbands were or were not a part of selection board became conscious. An emergency meeting was called in TFWC to know the matter deeply and the exact figure who was behind all this sympathy. It is another problem to make understand to the wives of lieutenants and captains especially newly married how to overcome the situation without being sensitive on such non serious issues. But it became a serious issue for some. Task was given to all wives to know secretly and inquire from husbands in a sweet and cool way. After two days meeting, it was concluded that all husbands had the sympathy with the lady in appointing her. Pondering the matter deeply, a letter was written to the Commandant with the signatures of all wives either to disqualify the new appointment or to abide by the eight rules given by the wives including daily salute at home, shopping, and hi-tea and so on. Letters were posted to all six officers individually which were opened separately but all were placed together at one table in one of the office within one hour. It was surprising for the husbands. That day a different drama was played in all the six homes. All husbands saluted and promised to follow the rules but nobody could disqualify the lady as she was truly justified for the appointment and the news proved to be wrong. This is another face of army wife.
Greek Philosopher Socrates said,’ Let him that would move the world, first move himself’. In order to do anything new in life, we must be willing to leave our comfort zone. Leaving the houses for one to another place is a part of this life. The wives and families who are left behind when soldiers go out to fight have to face separation, loneliness and fear. Many Stories of Love and Loss from the Women behind the Heroes touch the hearts. There is no comfort for the families till the emotional reunion. They have to be ready for all sorts of emergencies. I remember the night when a sudden huge blast following firing jolted Quetta Cantonment in a very short time. Such events are enough to tremble hearts with fears. A great piece of advice for army wives, “Life, especially military life, is all about perspective. So make the best of it and enjoy the adventure.” The attitude makes the difference.