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Boots ‘n’ berets

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Author of ‘She is a Jolly Good Fellow’ Sajita Nair at an interview with Metroplus. Photo:V Sreenivasa Murthy

I swear I met an ex-army officer who has written a chick-lit book. Sajitha Nair was one of the first women to join the Army and after serving a term of five years as a Short Service Commission officer, Sajitha turned writer with “She’s a Jolly Good Fellow.”

Sajitha was one of those people who had the words, but never the opportunity. Even while she served the country, got married and started a family, she let the literature in her live.

Growing up with a parent in the Army and having been in the Army herself, Sajitha is well versed with Army life and lingo, and she makes it available to us civilians through her book, which Sajitha says, can be considered semi-autobiographical.

The issue of assets

She has narrated the story of two women officers who need to prove to their male counterparts they are assets to the Indian Army rather than merely those with assets; a struggle that she had also endured.

Of Deepa Shekhar and Anjali Sharma her two leading ladies in “She’s a Jolly good Fellow”, Sajitha says Deepa is a sketch that somewhat resembles her. She was an officer to the hilt, did not condone any nonsense and insisted on being called “Saheb”. “In the Army when you are rigid or extremely serious, it’s called ‘being OG’,” she explains. OG stands for olive green, the colour of the Army.

Sajitha admired her father in his uniform and grew up harbouring a desire to earn the honour of wearing it herself one day, “I grew up liking the idea of wearing the uniform.” . Little did she know then that she would marry a man in uniform as well, and from her personal posse she has collected anecdotes over the years that feature in her book.

While she began by writing articles for magazines, newspapers and travelogues, she knew that somewhere there was a book brewing inside her. It was only a matter of biding time and willing publisher. “I always liked writing, but to be published you need to be good,” she says.

While she continued writing articles for different publications, never did she account her experiences in the Army. “I never used any stories from my Army experiences anywhere even though I was requested to.” She knew there would be a book and made sure she saved them for her pet project. So the theme was set, the story outline prepared all she needed was a taker. It was at this juncture that the Kala Ghoda Literary Festival happened. During a book pitch contest at the festival, Nair’s pitch was chosen by Hachette as the winning entry and involuntarily became the completing piece of the puzzle.

Nair wrote her manuscript three times before she was satisfied. Now that she has marched forward, Sajitha does not plan on standing at ease and has already begun planning her next mission.

By Catherine Rhea Roy

Courtesy: The Hindu http://www.thehindu.com/arts/books/article507615.ece

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