Mrs Mehra was justifiably annoyed. She glanced at the rear-view mirror yet again. Where the hell was the girl? She was supposed to be here, ready and waiting at least fifteen minutes back. The present crop of young lady-wives had no sense of propriety, she thought with disdain. The worst of the lot seemed to be the newest on the scene, Seema Sharma, wife of the dashing young Captain Sharma. Mrs. Mehra’s face softened into a smile at the thought of Captain Sharma. Such a handsome and smart young officer. He reminded her of her own son, who was now studying abroad. Col Mehra and she had badly wanted him to join the army. But his heart lay elsewhere and they being understanding parents had reluctantly relinquished the dream of an officer son.
He is destined to go places, Sumi, Col Mehra had told her of Captain Sharma, only last night, and that too for the hundredth time. Mrs. Mehra agreed with him. But now she was not so sure. With someone like this chit of a girl, who seemed to have scant regard for the decorum of the forces as his wife, Mrs Mehra was doubtful just how far he would go. An officer needed the right spouse by his side, someone who had respect for, and followed, the unwritten codes of the Army, to be able to move ahead.
Mrs Mehra sighed, remembering. She herself had not been of much help to Col Mehra. Though the awesome man that her husband was, he never ever had made her feel so, she knew in her heart that she had not been up to the mark. She was a gaon ki chori. She had grown up a simple girl, had done her schooling in the village school, had not seen a college campus and could scarcely speak angrezi the way the others did. She made up for it with her sincerity and dedication. She had been a quick learner when it came to the unwritten codes of conduct of the army for the lady-wives, and had tried her best to fit in and be an asset for Col Mehra.
Unlike the senior ladies of her own time, she was always sympathetic to the younger ladies of the battalion now that her husband was commanding the Unit. She had done away with many of the formalities, like the Jonga picking up the youngest officer’s wife first and then following rank till she as the senior most would be the last to be picked up. The driver now had instructions to just start at the farthest end and keep going.
It just so happened that Seema Sharma was the one staying closest to the Officer’s Mess, which meant that the girl had the most time to get ready. It was not as if she had small children to attend to like the two other ladies who were waiting with her in the Jonga. She sensed that they were disgruntled at what they considered an affront to their position in the hierarchy. A junior lady wife keeping the senior ladies waiting? It was unheard of. Mrs Mehra never thought of it that way, just that the girl seemed to lack basic good manners. She believed that ranks belonged to the officers and that the lady-wives were all at par. But still…
She was debating whether to send the driver to check what the matter was, if any at all, when Mrs Nair offered to go see what the matter was. Without waiting for a reply, she was off, her embroidered dupatta and silky hair flying in the air behind her as she hurried. Within seconds Mrs Mehra saw her return with Seema in tow. The girl’s hair looked still slightly wet. She had her arms extended slightly and was shaking her palms even as she tried to keep up with Mrs. Nair. Crazy girl, Mrs Mehra thought, was this the time to practice her dance moves?
“Good morning Mrs Mehra! Good morning ladies!” Seema Sharma trilled as soon as she got closer. ‘Sorry I am late,” she added cheerfully not in the least bit sounding sorry. She plonked herself beside Mrs Mehra and blew a couple of times on her red-tipped fingers and added casually, “I was waiting for my nail-polish to dry!”
Soon after the incident, it is heard, Mrs Mehra re-instituted the old ways. The driver picked up the junior-most officer’s wife first and then moved up the rank. Gone was the we-are-all-equal policy of hers. Mrs Mehra kept the Jonga for herself and the other ladies had to make do with the bone-shaking 1-ton army truck. It was also heard that the other ladies made mincemeat out of Seema Sharma that she forgot to be cheeky for one whole day.
Prompt: This time your entry must contain the three words rear view mirror, nail polish and awesome.