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“You’re an army kid” is a phrase anyone from a defence background is way too familiar with. And it feels as honourable as it sounds, because with the responsibility of letting your family put the country before you, comes pride.

Being a fauji kid is not all about the mess, the CSD canteen, stylish Ray bans and strict dining rules. It’s about having a strong  sense of belonging to this country and to its people. It means being grateful for the life you have, because you know more than anyone that it has been fought for, with blood and valour.

So, growing up as a defence kid teaches you more than just humility. It teaches you how to live. It gears you for the big bad world like nobody’s business because,

It teaches you that nothing in life is permanent.
From one school to another, one city to another, one house to another, you’re used to not getting too comfortable or too attached to anything or anybody. Adapting becomes a way of life before you even know it.

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You learn the real meaning of freedom.
It’s not the sudden rush of patriotism on Republic Day and Independence Day, or a terror attack for that matter. It’s knowing that your loved one is standing guard at the border while everyone is sleeping peacefully at night.

It teaches you to value contentment over expectations.
The selfless attitude of a soldier is impossible to replicate, but it definitely affects your perspective of the people and goals in your life. “Do everything with all your heart, but don’t expect a reward in return” is a common refrain in Army households.

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The army life lets kids be kids for as long as they can be.
Army kids don’t get to hang at the mess parties with their moms and dads, they have a separate room where they watch movies with their friends and get served snacks and soft drinks. As much as you may hate that practice as a kid, in today’s world, it’s worth everything. And no, having a sip of whiskey every now and then from your CO uncle’s glass as a baby doesn’t count!

Most importantly, you realise very young that war comes at a personal cost.
Army kids are against war. Let that sink in for a moment. They are against war because they know who’s paying the price. And it is a heavy one. War is not and should not be necessary, and army kids learn this the hard way.

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The army is a way of life. If you’ve grown up in that environment, you know your upbringing is responsible for everything you are today. You can only be grateful for the rest of your life that somebody as passionate and determined as your father, mother or sibling chose to join the armed forces.

Diksha Dwivedi’s father, Maj C.B. Dwivedi became a martyr during the Kargil war. At the age of 8, her life changed forever. She decided Letters from Kargil: The War through our Soldiers’ Eyes was a story that had to be told. So she did.

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