Life with a Soldier
Summer of ’97
They first met in Delhi in the summers of ’97. “I had gone to meet my sister (who’s married to an Army officer), and my brother in-law was his (GB Rao) senior colleague. After watching the film, Border, we exchanged pleasantries. My sister introduced me to him. Our next meeting was on his birthday party at the Officers’ Mess, and that day probably we chatted for some time and as the party went on we danced and enjoyed, in the mean while I was also feeling little comfortable with him,” begins Seema. “After that we frequently met at my sister’s place as he used to come over for dinner at times along with other bachelor officers. On July 25, during a party he was making a lot of effort to hang out with me. By the end of the night, as we said good bye to each other, he told me that he wants to talk. I simply nodded and walked away,” she recalls. Then he asked her out the next day, a rainy day. “Just coffee. We spoke and he proposed. I was still hesitant, though. But the connection was palpable. I could not have missed it. I broke the news to my sister, she wanted me to be sure, and I was pretty sure of myself. I felt a pull deep in my gut. He was the one,” she beams.
The usual resistance
“News went to our parents, with initial resistance from my father (he being an orthodox to the core), after a lot of persuasion from others in family, my parents and my brother, who again is an Army officer, met him and we got engaged in the same year in November and that’s it, we got married in a jiffy on December 1 the same year in Varanasi,” says Seema who is currently working as a teacher in Army Public School, Bolaram, Secunderabad.
Sharing his experience, GB Rao says, “Seema comes from a staunch Brahmin family and I being a Telugu non-Brahmin, initially it was difficult to convince her father. But now they too realise that caste and creed hardly matters.”
Distance sparked their love GB Rao feels, “Barely seeing your loved ones because of work schedule or not being able to go back home at any time is the hardest part.” Seema adds, “We struggle with that the most.” The spouse needs to understand and adapt to the uncertainty of the soldier, explains Seema. “We were separate for long time periods, when our children were young. It was difficult for me to make them understand that their dad is away for a reason. Their inability to express their distress made things really tough. But that is probably part and parcel of being married to a soldier; it also made me a stronger person,” shares Seema adding, “He being in the Army was posted to toughest of places, and, almost every alternate posting is a field. I think the separation keeps you waiting and longing to meet and that is how our love has grown in our married life.”
But the lady is thankful for the quality of life. “We have seen ups and downs because of frequent movements and separations, but I must say the quality of life bonhomie and brotherhood we get in the Army you wont get anywhere,” she adds.
Love for one another
So what does she like the most about him? “He is completely a family man and loves spending time with us and is also possessive. He is a very jovial and fun loving guy,” she smiles.
And Lt Col says, “She is very simple, straightforward with no frills attached and caring lady.”
As tough as it can get, they survived a long distance relationship. The couple, who has been married for the past 17 years, has two children – 16-year-old Shashank and 9-year-old Shivank. In their own words, “Marriage has given us the best of gifts, our two precious shining stars – our children, it further strengthens our bonding and love, and seeing them grow is the most wonderful thing.”
Seema says, “Fights or disagreements should be discussed and we should talk it out. In my case, he will stay away and is of the opinion that, leave the issue and things will normalise.”