By Arré Bench Aug. 07, 2021
Tanushree Podder’s “The Girls in Green” is a beautiful story of friendship, love and patriotism as four young women navigate the Officer Training Academy. From tough-as-nails superiors to their first mistakes and successes and even love, “The Girls in Green” covers it all.
Billi was dreaming of stars and awards when a strident voice shattered the blissful silence. Turning to her side, she burrowed under the pillow and went back to sleep. Two minutes later, the voice had risen by a couple of decibels. Reluctantly, she opened one eye, and looked at the tiny alarm clock on the bedside table and yawned. Her fuddled brain suddenly realized it was an announcement.
‘All first-termers double down to the ground floor centre lobby, immediately.’
What the hell! It was 5 a.m. Sadists! Don’t they allow anyone to sleep till a decent hour?
Yawning and rubbing the sleep out of her, she joined the flurry of feet rushing down the steps. Soon, there were 20 of them in the lobby, waiting anxiously for further orders. Looking around Billi realized that they were an odd bunch. With unwashed faced, dishevelled hair and an assortment of outfits, they were nothing like the smart and confident girls who had arrived at the academy. A couple of girls were wearing shorts and T-shirts, a few were in pyjamas, and yet others in jeans or salwar kameez.
The CSM was nowhere to be seen and soon the girls began chattering. A few girls had arrived later at night and they were introducing themselves to the others. Decibels rose as the tension ebbed, and soon they were in the back-slapping stage of advanced camaraderie.
It was a full 15 minutes before the CSM finally arrived. She threw a menacing glance at the lot and hurled abuses for their slovenly appearances.
‘ You aim to be army officers? Have you seen one like you?’
Just then, Lucky came down the steps. She was wearing a flimsy nightdress, in pastel pink, with frills and lace. It was an infinitely sexy number.
They hung their heads and listened in silence to the smart dressed CSM. Her words drove away all lethargy.
Just then, Lucky came down the steps. She was wearing a flimsy nightdress, in pastel pink, with frills and lace. It was an infinitely sexy number. A couple of girls giggled as they saw here [sic] float gracefully towards the lobby.
‘Here comes Miss Lah Di Dah. Give her a clap, girls,’ barked the CSM and everyone obliged.
Blushing furiously, Lucky slid towards Billi.
‘Alright girls, let’s see some action.’ The CSM divided the girls into three groups. The first group was ordered to do push-ups, the second to haunch and the third to start front rolling.
Anyone who has executed such exercises will realize that neither pyjamas nor nightdresses are conducive to performing these feats. Soon, Lucky realized the impracticality of sleeping in a pretty nightdress. She was ordered to change into a practical outfit and report back in three minutes. It was an impossible task. Huffing and puffing, she flew down the stairs in five minutes, which drew extra punishment.
The arrival of another LC distracted the CSM, who was debating on the next set of exercises.
Dressed in a bright blue salwar kameez, the short and plump newcomer was immediately put to task. Unaccustomed to rough exercises, the girl groaned and grunted through a series of front rolls.
It was almost 6 a.m. and the sun had begun making its presence felt. To their relief, the CSM decided it was time to give them a break.
This excerpt was taken from “The Girls in Green” by Tanushree Podder, published by Bloomsbury India, now available for pre-order on Amazon.