Whether you love them or you hate them, you all have at least one friend who is a certified Army Brat. There are times when their stories make you feel like they are bluffing. Believe it if you will, those stories are real! The story where their entire family along with the helper ran after a cobra when one of their parents was posted in Assam or the one in which they found a haunted bungalow just a few blocks away from their home. Even the story where they saw a leopard the size of a dog in their backyard late at night. They are all true! Army Brats live a life that only seems possible in the Enid Blyton books. The secret seven clubs they would form with some friends or the secret language they used in class. Army Brats are not only creative but an adventurous lot indeed. Here are some facts that will help you understand your friend better.
The word BRAT means something completely different to an army kid. For them, it’s not just a word its actually an acronym. It stands for ‘ Born, Raised, and Transferred.’ Now that you are in on the secret, you must realise that they aren’t a bunch of goofy kids who couldn’t stick to one place. Most of the army brats are not born anywhere close to their hometown. In fact, they are born in army hospitals of places whose names you probably have never heard!
No, I am not talking about the famous superheroes. Shaktiman to an army brat is the three-ton truck that used to have wooden planks for seats and would take them to school every morning. These trucks would be nothing like the school buses you are used to. Once you would board this truck you would be asked to go sit on the most uncomfortable seat in the world. And if you think that the driver would be nice enough to slow down while going over speed bumps, you are highly mistaken. You are an army kid and you are expected to be tough.
The Batman is the first best friend every army brat has. He is the person they fondly call ‘bhaiya.’ He is the helper given to your father/mother to help them with work. As it happens, the brats befriend him and make him do crazy things for them. And he is nothing less than a superhero because he saves them from their parents as well as keep them from getting hurt. He is someone they can never forget.
Do you remember the horrid PTA or PTM meetings that you had to go to with your parents after every exam? Well, just for a moment, imagine if you had one of those meetings every Saturday night. Did you picture it? Now imagine what would happen to your Sunday after this. Now you know how most weekends were for us army brats.
Every Saturday night their parents get them all dressed up to go to the Army Club for the Saturday night party. Being a victim of living in a small army cantonment you end up running into all of your school teachers. Maybe even the principal. So next time you go and call an army brat a ‘rebel without a cause,’ rethink! These kids have had a tough life so give them a break.
When your parent/s works for an organisation that aims at eliminating all those ‘bad guys’ who only aimed at killing the innocent for their own illogical reasons, it’s not easy to go on a vacation. Every time an army parent says that the family is going on a vacation, it is automatically assumed that if not for the whole trip then at least the initial part of it, there will be a whole convoy escorting you outside of the cantonment. Okay, to be honest, this one just makes us army brats feel really special and honestly, we enjoyed it.
One of the perks that we Army Brats enjoy is the huge network of friends we have. Whether it’s New Delhi or Mumbai or Chennai or any other major town that you know of, we have friends there. And almost always we have certain shared experiences, a crazy story of an incident that has that person in it. But don’t think of us as snobbish! Wouldn’t you be happy to meet an old friend? In fact, be glad! Be glad that you are being introduced to another amazing army brat who is now going to be your friend too.
Every time an army dad announces that he has been posted to another God forsaken army cantonment located in a completely different part of the country, the first thing you are supposed to do is read up about the new place. This new place will be your home for at least a year and you have to fit in. Which means you must know about the local language, the local culture, the traditions and even the festivals. So next time you hear your friend talking in Bengali, Tamil, Kanada as well as Assamese, don’t be surprised. They may not know the language too well but they will know enough to get their work done.
I’m sure you too made the mistake of asking your Army Brat friend about which school did they go to. That’s okay! A lot of people make the same mistake and yes, it is annoying for every army brat to answer this question. I have been to eight different schools, my brother has been to 11 and my best friend has been to 14! This is all the information you need and it is all that you will get. If you want to be good friends with an army brat do not ask them to list out the schools!
How did you spend your summer vacations? Did you watch television all summer or did you visit your favourite aunt and uncle? Did you spend time catching up with your cousins? I wonder what that feels like! Army brats don’t have a ‘normal’ summer vacation. While you sit at home, staying far away from the harsh sun, your army brat friend is being taught how to climb a rock or how to cross a river hanging upside down from a rope. I’m still not sure how exactly that helps. There are times when half the camp reports sick, hoping that the nurse doesn’t call their bluff. Frankly, now that I look back at those vacations memories, I know that I wouldn’t have liked it any other way.
Life of an army brat has never been simple. It may have been fun most of the times but when your parent leaves for a place where you aren’t even allowed to visit, home just isn’t the same. So give your friend a hug and let them know that you understand them a little better now. And enjoy their friendship, as you are one of the few chosen ones who an army brat has welcomed in their life.