Posted by Mayukhaa Jamwal, Rajouri, Jammu and Kashmir
Hi ! This little lockdown story of mine starts from Delhi. I was staying with my daughters in Separated Families Accommodation, Delhi Cantonment Area where one puts up when one’s husband gets posted out to a Field Area (locations where the families are not allowed due to security reasons).
My daughter was in 10th. I was really apprehensive, since it was the first board exam for the family. Yes more so for the parents than the child herself. We as parents were on tenterhooks .
My husband had come over on leave for the boards. Corona was unheard of in February 2020 but by the time my daughter’s exams started we got to hear about it’s grand entry in India too.
Being an Army Officer’s daughter and wife, planning out every bit of my life is grilled into me. Staying true to my nature, I planned. And the plan was to go to Rajouri (where my husband was posted) for a week, once the boards finished.
God had other plans.
A week ! Hahaha. No way ! We ended up staying for months, in fact a year and a half in Rajouri. We left for Rajouri on the 19th and within two days the nationwide Janta lockdown was imposed.
Rajouri is this little town in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir tucked in quietly in the magnificent Peer Panjal range.
We had to be quarantined for 29 days. Yes, you heard it right. In the Army you need to be very cautious lest you transmit the virus. Imagine our enemies would not have to fight on the borders, they would just spread the virus if they could. Jokes apart, since the virus was new and no one knew much about it, Army had to be extra cautious and therefore we were the guinea pigs. After us, the quarantine period was considerably shortened.
We were quarantined in a barricaded place on the outskirts of the town where like us, there were other families too. This place was well guarded almost like Tihar Jail… or maybe even better. It was only after completing our quarantine that we were allowed to go to the actual location where my husband was posted.
In a field area the rooms are all temporary accommodation and families generally are not allowed. There is a single room with an attached bathroom for each officer which is sufficient for a person. Since these were unprecedented times, families were allowed to stay. Of course all four of us in a single room was quite a handful.
Back in Delhi, in bigger homes we would be busy in our own small digital worlds. If ever there was a disagreement we would dash off to our small dens showing intolerance and disapproval. But here we were, in a single room, nowhere to go, nowhere to hide, nowhere to forget. We had to be in there, facing each other facing our differences….
We learnt to be more accepting… more accommodating… more understanding. There were of course times when we wanted to literally strangle each other.
We continued with our everyday struggles of teenagers and know-it-all parents. But we managed and managed extremely well.
All Army locations are exuberantly beautiful. Even a barren piece of land given to the Army is turned into an exotic location. That is what the Army does. It does the impossible. Rajouri was no exception. This place in the cradle of the mountains had the charm and captivity of a small hill station.
Army personnels’ wives spend a lot of time staying away from their husbands. But here we were together getting a chance to stay with them. The joy was immense. My daughters made friends, though their friends ranged from their class kids to as young as five year olds. But they learnt to play together and enjoy each other’s company.
I made friends… friends for life. We all used to walk. And by the end of my one and a half year stay we became such exceptional trekkers that we were sometimes doing 15 kms each day. The fresh crisp air, the stunning mountains, the indescribable beauty of nature, all reminded us how lucky we were.
We had come with clothes for a week and now our stay stretched to months.
I realised the immense impact the Pandemic had on us. From the hustle bustle of Delhi, we learnt to slow down. We learnt to appreciate that life is much more than just your possessions. We learnt how important it is to have health on your side. We realised how amazing it is to upcycle. We learnt to appreciate people even if they were annoying. We figured out how to live in one single room. And most importantly, we understood how important it is to open your heart and soul and let your thoughts out, no matter how insignificant it may seem to you.
We are of course grateful to be part of The Indian Army, that takes care of you no matter what… like no one else.
I will be now moving back to Delhi as my husband has been posted out of Rajouri. But a part of my soul will always be here, in these mountains, reminding me of the memorable time I spent here and beckoning me to come back another day.
Cover Image: Author
Story Images: Author
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