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Fauji kids celebrate Independence Day
A few of us fauji kids met in Sydney on the eve of the Indian Independence day, to celebrate the occasion and reminisce about the Indian Armed Forces. It was a delightful afternoon of nostalgia and non-stop chatter.
Meet any fauji (defence forces) kid and you will see that unmistakable, stubborn pride of belonging to a family that served the nation. There is also a fierce loyalty and an unspoken bond that develops instantly.
The Indian Armed Forces raised us and we couldn’t have asked for a more privileged childhood. We learnt the values of respect, acceptance, courage and resilience very early on in our lives. We saw our dads and family members go to the frontal areas of conflict, and fight in wars, but saw them do it with a smile.
We traveled the length and breadth of India and stayed in so many cities that sometimes it gets confusing when someone asks us where we are from! We belong nowhere, and yet, everywhere feels like home.
Preeti Gupta said, “My life as a fauji brat has enabled me to hold my own no matter where and at the same time this multiple sense of connection to wherever we have called home. We are the original ‘Global Citizens’ of India!”
The world in our eyes is clearly divided between the civilians (them) and forces families (us). We are a unique specimen and have a language all of our own! Put us in a room together and then watch us as we go crazy talking about Postings, Mess parties, Jeeps, Jongas, Shaktimans, Black trunks and New schools every two years.
Growing up, we took a lot for granted, including easy access to tennis courts, badminton halls, swimming pools, horse riding clubs and even joy rides in helicopters and small planes. We had the privilege of walking in out of every home on the cantonment as everyone was known and every family welcomed you any time, every time! There was unconditional, unquestioned support for each other and a genuine feeling of community.
This made us real diversity champions, growing up with different cultures, languages, food and customs. We fauji kids have the unique ability to never feel out of place. We celebrate and participate in all festivals with equal fervor and delight.
As Tannu very beautifully said, there is “a real feeling of unity in diversity” in our lives.
We may have left India and the fauji life behind, but it can never leave us: it has made us who we are and what we stand for!
On the eve of our country’s independence, we salute and thank the Indian Army, Air Force and Navy for teaching us the valuable lessons of acceptance, courage, resilience and respect for all human beings!