How many times we lose hope? How many times we give up on small silly things? How many times we feel everything is lost and we just step back from everything we have ever built together? How many of us simply stop believing in our dreams because of one brutal stroke of luck? If you are one of those people you must read this story of extraordinary courage, faith and hard work ..the rags to riches kinds, the fairytales, only with a twist that the protagonist is a mother of two who indeed married a warrior but turned her life into happily ever after simply by not giving up when she should have been shattered.
Meet Mrs Jyoti Nainwal, wife of Naik Deepak Nainwal and now Lady Cadet Jyoti Nainwal.
It was not always her plan. Born and brought up in Dehradun Uttarakhand and married to a soldier who belonged to Kanchula village in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, Jyoti always had simple dreams of a simple home maker. Her home and family comprising of two small children daughter Lavanya and son Reyansh eant the world to her. Since she had married a fauji, in her married life of 6.5 years she could never stay with her husband Naik Deepak Nainwal. But they had plan to do so, Naik Deepak Naninwal the tall fair and well built soldier epitomized being a soldier. He was committed to his job and loved his motherland India. Naik Deepak had joined the Indian Army soon after completing his education and was recruited into 1 Mahar of the famed Mahar Regiment, a regiment of the Infantry known for its fearless soldiers and numerous battle honours. In all throughout his life he had been part of Ghatak platoon of various units he was posted in, only because of the sheer brilliance he exuded and skills he possessed. In his last posting he was posted to 1 RR battalion deployed in Jammu and Kashmir. He was also a dotting husband and father and he was looking forward to live in a peace station along with his family as soon as his Rashtriya Rifles tenure was over but it never could be.
On 10th April 2018, information was received from the intelligence source about the presence of terrorists at a house in Wani Mohalla in Khudwani village of Kulgam district of J&K. The joint team swung into action and the suspected area was cordoned off. On being challenged the terrorists fired at the troops and a fierce gun battle ensued thereafter. The gun battle continued for over 12 hours till the morning of 11 Apr 2018. However, during the heavy exchange of fire Naik Deepak Nainwal got hit in his spine area and sustained serious injuries. Initially he was shifted to Delhi’s Army Research and Referral hospital for treatment and later he was transferred to a military hospital in Pune, for further specialized care. However, Naik Deepak Nainwal lost the battle for life and succumbed to his injuries on 20 May 2018.
When Jyoti heard the news about his husband being hit by bullets she rushed to Army RR hospital. By the time she reached he was already operated. He had become a paraplegic and lost sensations in his limbs. It was for the first time ever he stepped out of her home and it was not a happy sight. FInding her husband bed ridden and knowing he would never get up was heart breaking. her heart was crushed in thousand pieces but she did not cry and wanted to look strong before the doctors and authotirities becuase deep down at the bottom of her heart she wanted to stay in the hospital and look after her husband. She knew it was not permitted but it was her husband,her whole world. When Naik Deepak Nainwal opened his eyes and found Jyoti before him,the first thing he said was
“Ye kaisi shakal bana rakhi hai? life me kuch bhi ho jaye kabhi aisi shakal mat banana. Fauji ki biwi hai tu”
And that changed everything. Just like the purpose of deepak and jyoti is to be together and brighten ferociously. Jyoti found her purpose and stayed with him for next forty days of Naik Deepak Naninwal’s life as long as he was alive. She says
“There was a turmoil in my mind but I controlled my feeling because my husband needed me. If I’d not have shown myself strong Doctors would not have allowed me to stay with him and look after him. During that stay the humanitarian gesture of Army touched me to a great deal. That was my first exposure of the world. I was weak and vulnerable but Army extended all the support they had to offer to me, sometimes beyond their limits. Army looks after its Veer Naris may be this is that feeling which allows soldiers to risk their lives leaving behind their families.”
She also says
“Those 40 days when he was in Hospital were best days of my life with him. We lived in joint families and then we had kids. I could also never join him in 6.5 years of our marriage because he was mostly posted to field stations. So that was the only time when I truly get to live along with him. I would write poems and he would listen. He also told me to join forces if something happens to him. He said I knew you were strong but never knew you were this strong. You infact can be an officer in the Army. that thing stayed with me even after he was gone.”
Naik Deepak Nainwal left this planet and enter the greater realms where only people with supreme sacrifices secure their places. Jyoti was with him when he took his last breath. She says God gave her those 40 days to make her strong. Prepare her for life and also was kind enough to give her an opportunity to be with her husband one last time as she had never been able to do so. Life was changed after that. All relationships were changed. The way people looked at her was also changed. That particular time Jyoti derived all her strength from her mother Guddi Devi, Brother Naveen Khanduri and her daughter Lavanya. There is a viral picture of Lavanya where she looks like crying with folded hands at her fathers coffin but Jyoti told me
“Swapnil people thought she was crying but actually she was whispering to her father. She was telling him that one day she will become an Army doctor so that no one else’s father become a star just as her did. I had told my children that their papa had become a star and now I will be their papa. My kids don’t call me mummy anymore. They call me Papa.”
Jyoti’s story of empowerment is also the story of rising above odds and what truly can happen if families supported their daughters. She says she belonged to an OR’s background, middle class people were her society who never treated her with kindness. As soon as she was a widow people were eager to put shackles on her but her brother stood with her sister Jyoti and pledged to give her all support she needed to become an army officer, he looked after her kids, her house and everything else she was supposed to look after alone now. Her mother, a wise woman she also said to her on the day her husband was given last honours
“Beta Now onwards you take the rebirth. Now you have to gift your life to your children. You have to give them a purpose a good upbringing so that they dont look upon other for an example. You have to become their example. It is up to you now what direction you want to take your children towards..”
“Tujhe aab janam dene wali maa hi nahi balki Karam dene wali maa bhi banana hoga!”
These lines touched Jyoti deeply. She gave her first SSb attempt in December 2018 just six months after her husband’s veergati. She failed but her family did not allow her to give up. Her children no matter how young they were would speak words of wisdom to her that how badly they want to see her in uniforms. Jyoti even shifted away from them so that she could study with complete focus. She sought help from Mahar regiment, her husband’s regiment and they readily provided her with all the help she needed. they even appointed a Brigadier level officer Brigadier Cheema as her mentor and send her to a coaching center run by another Mahar veteran Colonel M P Singh. She says how both the veterans have played huge roles in getting her prepared for SSB. Her English was weak. She was coming from ORs background. All her life she had only been involved with household responsibilities and these veterans knew how SSB is all about personality test. They knew she needed to change internally.
” I remember how Brigadier Cheema Sir would send me English story books and give me a deadline to read it and later ask questions regarding that book like what I learnt from that book or why the ending was he way it was etc. So I could never skip reading those books.”
She would wake up at 4 Am every morning and go running several kilometers. She would be scared that people will mock her finding in western wear running rather than living a life a widow is expected to live. She kept on giving SSB attempts until the day she was selected and it was her 4th attempt
“I have seen people giving after some attempt but I kept on giving SSB attempts thinking what have I got to lose. Every time I will give an attempt and fail I did not returned home empty handed. I learnt something each time. Sometime a young boy would teach how to sit straight or I would learn climbing the rope watching the other one. I was determined to give my attempts as long as I was eligible for it. ”
Her hardwork paid off and she was eventually able to crack the toughest of all the exams SSB and she has recently joined OTA Chennai on 29th january 2021. When I asked if she has any tips for thousands of defence aspirants she said
“There is no trick for SSB. SSB is all about being yourself. Indian Army clearly asks Do you have it in you. These are about those 15 officer like qualities they seek in each aspirants and you can not pretend if you don’t have those qualities you can only develop them and made those qualities aspect of your attitude and part of your personality. Suppose for an example an officer is a leader and any defense aspirant can start taking initiative in his life simply by participating more in his own house. The aspirants also must be aware of current situation than mugging over the crack codes or answer books simply by genuinely taking interest in their surrounding. And yes I would also suggest defense aspirants not to give up rather try to focus on their overall grooming and developing their personality from the scratch each time they fail.”
When at the last I asked her is there any message she wants to give to hundreds of women just like her ” Veer Naris” she said