From the Archive – 1972

I was reminded of a poem “Army Wife” distributed to us in HQ 33 Corps in 1972, soon after the  1971 war, by the Corps Commander’s wife. Corps Commander was Gen Thapan. Who is author, I am not sure as a cyclostyled paper was given to us. Mind you, there used to be no photocopier then. Her name was not there. So it is anonymous.

For the record, when this poem was written there used to be no free ration for the officers, unless one is posted in ‘Field Area’. Therefore there is a mention of “First of each month there’s plenty of cash…… and last week it’s hash”.

Hope you all will enjoy reading it. If you do, please leave a comment at the end.

Army Wife

Who said variety’s the spice of life?
No doubt ‘twas first uttered by an army wife!
For the poor girl never knows where she is at,
For her home is wherever he parks his hat.

She moves every two years to new sets of quarters,
During which time she bears sons and daughters.
She packs up to transfers to the plains of Delhi,
The orders are changed – she winds up in Ranchi. 

Her house may be tiny – no room for expansion,
A hut or a tent, or it might be a mansion.
She uncrates the furniture, come snow or come rains,
And lays the mosaic between labour pains.

She no more than gets settled when she has to look pretty,
To go to a party and to be charming and witty.
She has to contract Mahjong and chess,
And whether a straight or flush in the best.

On any subject she must be able to discourse,
She must swim, ski and golf and ride any troop horse.
She must know songs and traditions of the regiments and corps.
And all of the details how he won his war.

She turns ‘soul’ with lieutenants, who try to be glamorous,
Then waltzes with colonels who are usually amorous.
She must drink all concoctions,
But with staid moderation.

He insists on economy – checks every stub,
Yet her house must be run like a hotel or a club.
Because she is the hostess both early and late,
For guests in all numbers from eighty to eight.

The first of each month there is plenty of cash,
For cakes and MURGI but the last week it’s hash.
She jiggles the budget for new tropical worsted
Though the seams on her petticoat are shiny busted.

She just gets the uniform payment arranged,
When his blouse is outdated, regulations have changed.
One year she has servants and maid servants, may be
But while she is doing her own house work, she has new baby.

That there will be bank balance she has no assurance
It all goes for club dues, the canteen and in insurance.
At the age of retirement, he is still hale and hearty,
Fit as a fiddle and the life of a party.

She is tired and haggard and cranky and nervous
And nearly a wreck from his 30 years service,
But even then, when all’s said and done,
She really thinks army life is a fun!

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About Shiv Rana

A veteran of the Indian Army.
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