Valentine’s Day: Tales of love, duty and sacrifice
Ahead of Valentine’s Day, military spouses bare their version of togetherness and how the nation comes before self
Men and women of the Armed Forces are often not able to meet their loved ones on special occasions and Valentine’s Day is no exception. We spoke to this breed of extraordinary individuals and asked them how it feels to be far away from their spouses on a day when the world is busy celebrating love.
A young Indian Army officer posted in Leh shares, “My wife is very fond of chocolates and roses and I have arranged for them to be delivered to her. I am also aware that she had her heart set on a particular article of jewellery. Since I will personally not be able to get it for her, I will have to make do by transferring money.” He only wishes he could have been there to take his wife out for dinner and at the same time encourages others to count their blessings and never take their loved ones for granted and cherish each and every moment spent with them.
For Preeti Kapri, whose husband is serving in the icy northern frontiers, Valentine’s Day is just another important function, celebrated in the absence of her husband. The young officer has been in harsh field areas for the last five years and has just been able to spend one Valentine’s Day with his wife, ever since the couple got married. Kapri says, “I can hardly remember when we were together the last time. Soon after my marriage, my husband was posted to field areas. Being alone with my family, I had to take care of all responsibilities.” She feels love in one’s heart is far more valuable than being physically present. And we attest that perhaps that’s the reason why Army personnel are paired with the strongest of women.
Deeksha Rathore whose husband, a young Army officer from Signals posted in North East shares, “Having known each other from school and being so different, little did we know we would end up falling in love. In a time of constant connection, we would barely get the opportunity to speak to one another. The only thing I remember telling him was: at the end of the day, just let me know you’re safe. Spending time together has always been a privilege, and we never took it for granted,” she says. Sports are their bonding factor. “Our rare dates revolve around playing tennis and cooking together. He’s always on the job, so whether over a call or in person, we laugh and communicate wholeheartedly. That joy is so healing that we would never trade it for anything else in this world,” says Rathore.
Dr Seema Tyagi, married to veteran Air Force officer, Rajiv Tyagi recalls with nostalgia how she treasured every little gift given by him ever since they met. She knew she will have to get used to his absence on special days. “I was in my final year (MBBS), living with my mother and sister in Separated Family Accommodation in Pune. My dad, an Army officer, was posted at a field area. We met by chance and a whirlwind romance concluded into marriage. Every red rose sent by Rajiv found its way into the pages of my thick surgical bible Bailey & Love, every little gift was treasured,” she says. They remember Valentine’s Day from the year 1981 when Seema was interning at Shirur Primary Health Centre in Maharashtra and Rajiv was posted in Bhuj, Gujarat. She says, “No phone calls were possible, those were no mobile days, delivery of letters /cards too were erratic and took an indeterminate time to reach. Valentine’s Day dawned. My friends at the rural internship hostel declared that this would be a vacuum Valentine’s Day for me. I remember hanging on the gates for the postman all day, running umpteen times to the mess to ask Anna, the cook and caretaker if there was any mail for me. And the day ended. I still remember the feeling! We all had dinner, went to our rooms, and settled down to sleep. And then I heard footsteps running in the corridor outside the room! Anna was there, knocking frantically, ‘Jaldi aao.. Call hai’. The bright spark had managed to get through via the Air Force’s Troposcatter Communications and Propagation system. It was a Happy Valentine’s Day after all.”
For journalist Lachmi Deb Roy, this V-Day is very special. She will celebrate the day with her husband after twenty years. She says, “My husband is in the Indian Navy and we have been married for twenty years now. February is a very emotional month for us. 14 February was my actual date of wedding which got postponed due to my husband’s duties. Other times also, he was either busy sailing or was on deputation to other countries. He was serving the country and I am proud of him. We could never celebrate the day together because of his duties. This is the first time we will spend Valentine’s Day together. We’ll make breakfast at home and go out in the evening for dinner.”
As we celebrate Valentine’s Day in safety, let’s keep these gallant men and women in our thoughts and prayers.
(Inputs by Ruchika Garg)
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