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“Beti tainu main ikk gal dassan…Hale tak sadde gharon mainu chhad ke koi vi Army che nai gaya. Army chee rehne da hor maja seeya. Meri sver subah panj vaje tey raat shaami atth vaje hi ho jaandi si. Siren di avajaan, durr durr tak main tey saare jawan dharti maa ki godh si thandak dene vale pahadon ka safar karte sige, army di gaddiyon de aane jaane de vich rehna…”

(Translation- “Daughter, I want to tell you something… No one from our family has joined the Indian Army except me till now. Life was different and full of adventures in the army. My mornings started at 5 AM and nights began from 8 PM. The sounds of siren, an expanse of mountains till wherever the eyes could see, sounds of different army vehicles coming and going. This was where life was located…”)

~Late Shri M.L. Jolly~

From waking up at 5 AM in the morning to reaching for the morning roll call at 6 AM to keeping up to his fitness and discipline my nana ji was a hard-core Army Man living up to his principles and values. I can recall thousands of memories of my childhood around him listening to his accounts from the days he spent at different Army locations. He often used to recount his days at the Leh Ladakh stretch where he had to spend months without family. And, of course there were no phones somewhere between 1955 1965!! The bare minimum communication was via letters which used to come after the wait of days after days.

In one of our conversations Nanu said- “Othhe badi thand sigi; aini ki kadi kadi tey sadda shareer kaanp jaaye par ikk gal thi unn dinan di, ki saddi rooh kadi nahi kaanpi- Kyonki desh di sewa karan da punya jo kamate thee hum dhani log. Duji or parvaar ton durr rehn da ehsaas bhi tha, unki chinta bhi lagi rehti thi. Sochda tha ki Shaku (Shakuntala, my nani) kiven sab sambhalti hoegi. Baccheyan de school kahin, tey saada ghaar kahin… Kadi bacche bimaar pae jaayen, tey main tey duty pe honda tha, onuu sab akele karna pai janda tha. Par ki karen… Saada kam hi aisa tha ki parvaar aur apne saathiyon aur desh mein se ek ko chunna hota tha… Hum thehre nau javaan- Apne kam di location ke saathi tey desh nu chunde thee.”

(Translation- “It was very cold there in Leh; so much that it sent shivers down our body but one thing was the most prominent about those days that our soul never used to shiver due to the cold—because we were earning the blessings from our service to the country. On the other hand, there was a constant feeling of living away from my family and I was always worried for them. I used to think about how Shaku (Shakuntala, my Nani) would be managing everything. The school of my children and our home was in the opposite directions. Sometimes the kids used to fall ill and she had to manage everything all alone as I used to be on my duty. But what can be done? After all, our job is such that we have to make a choice between our country and family. We were the young blood of the country who chose the country first and family second.”)

My Nana ji was very committed towards his duty. Though, he must have and he had repaired huge vans, and army vehicles with an utmost level of patience and faith in his Engineering skills as his rank was Mechanical cum Electrical Engineer. He must have and he had spent his days in the camps at the chillingly cold Leh, Ladakh with dedication. But he could not control his emotions on the birth of my Mama Ji in 1970, who is the youngest of all. He was born at the family’s stay in Bhopal. My nana ji told me that he had excitedly and joyously distributed very big plates after plates of laddoos (sweets) in the locality.

Another incident that he narrated me was frightening for me to hear. I do not know how scary it might have been for Nana Ji and my family to hide in those L-Shaped Morchas during the 1971 War.

My Nana ji narrated-
“1971 mein bohot jyaada bombardments hui thi Pathankot mein. Saanu har tareeke di
situation de vaaste taiyaar rehna padta tha. Kadi vi complete blackout ho jaanda siga tey
emergency siren bajte thee toh hum bhaage bhaage morchon mein kud jaande sige.
Baccheyan nu sab toh jyaada ae gal yaad rahi lambe samay tak kyunki unke chanchal mann
pe war di daravni raaten tey o bhayanak awaazen ghar kar gayi thi.”

(Translation- “There were a lot of bombardments at Pathankot in the year 1971. We had to be ready for all kinds of situations. There could be a complete blackout at any point of time and alarms were raised. We came out running at the blackout and jumped in the L-Shaped Morchas for protection. This incident of war laid a huge impact on the children’s innocent mind as the imprints of the dreadful sounds of bombings were left behind.)

My Nana ji’s Army Life was huge. He began the duty at the mere age of 19 and retired at the age of approximately 45 years in 1976 with an experience and memories worth being cherished with generations to come forever. I can recall spending my childhood at Nani’s place in Delhi with full discipline but lots of love and chatter about Nana’s Army Days. I remember morning tea and breakfast coming at proper 7 AM, lunch at 12:30 PM and dinner at exact 8 PM and then the kitchen being completely spic and span at Nani’s place. My Nani (grandmother) was extremely punctual with the routine and fought like Fouji’s (Army Man’s) Foujan (Army Wife) at home. Basically, Nana ji fought the main battle outside with the background battle being fought at home by Nani ji; his Shaku. My parents taught me values but my grandparents taught me discipline and moreover, ‘how to face the world with a smile on my face?’ Nana-Nani’s journey was long enough from facing the partition horrors, living in camps at Punjab to changing places like Leh, Ladakh, Palampur, Dharamshala, Lucknow, Bhopal, Pathankot etc to finally retirement and relaxed life with us grandchildren at Delhi.

“Beti, teri asli ladai toh school ke bahar hogi jab tujhe akele maidaan mein ladna seekhna padega.”
(Translation- “Daughter, your real fight would be outside your school when you will have to
learn to fight in the battleground alone.”)
~My Dear Nana ji, a fighter Late Shri M.L. Jolly’s last words to me at the hospital at the age
of 85 years~

Yes Nanu, your granddaughter is all grown up now, fighting her battles alone in the battleground and making you proud. Though, I could not get into the army but I have created my army here to work for the welfare of the ones who need it the most.

2 Responses

  1. God bless you Yashika for putting these fond memories of dad and mom on your website. Both of them did a lot despite of their respective challenges due to various location postings dad used to have in army but I am so proud to say that they never compromised on anything in ensuring we all had best of the upbringing and bright future.

  2. We humans are afraid to live without proper comfort, family, but a soldier leave all their comforts, their home, their family for the country. Country becomes their “Naam”, “Namak”, and “Nishaan”. Your nanji has lived a remarkable life, and i wish the upcoming generation of his family will do the same in their fields.

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