Women in beautiful gowns and men in their immaculate uniforms waltzing to mellifluous music played by the naval band — this was the scene I had conjured in my mind of Navy ball when I got married and moved to Vishakapatnam in May.
Coming from a civil background, the naval way of life was a challenge that I accepted with aplomb. Whenever my husband would grace our house in between his sailings, I would ask him questions about the Navy ball. He failed to understand my fascination and was appalled when I suggested that I need to get a gown for the ball and said, “Stop acting like a teenager! Wearing gowns is passé, you can wear an Indian or a western dress.” My aim was to attend the Navy ball, if there were no dress code imposed on a lady, I couldn’t care less.
Soon, it was November and the countdown for the Navy ball had begun for me. The next few weeks moved at a snail’s pace and the most awaited day finally arrived. That morning, I got up and checked for the nth time if my dress was well-pressed. I even noticed light creases appearing on it because of my constant checking.
“Did you fill petrol in the motorcycle?” I shook my husband from his reverie. “No good morning, no tea. More concerned about my motorcycle!” quipped my husband. Well, one needs to be prepared and overlook even the trivial details on the big day. My neighbour, a veteran in attending Navy balls, had explained in great detail about the DJs, the dance floor, and the crowning of the Navy queen.
We stepped out of the house that evening, immaculately dressed, and I carefully sat on the two-wheeler. We stayed in a civil locality and the ride to the venue was quite long. We had to cross a small bridge to reach the venue; regrettably, there was a traffic jam (an unlikely situation in a small city). My husband took full advantage of being on a motorcycle and zipped past, wondering the cause for the chaos. Our doubts were answered instantly, when our bike did a wheelie without our accord.
The front tyre was in mid air and the pillion rider (yours truly) was flung off the vehicle, descending on a road drenched in oil with a huge thud. My husband made an abortive attempt at controlling the bike and landed slightly ahead of me with just bruises. Thankfully, none of the big vehicles were in motion and the threat of being hit by an oncoming vehicle was evaded.
Later, lying on the hospital bed, I managed to put on a stoic front and told my husband who was trying unsuccessfully to hide his dismay, “I read somewhere that a strong positive mental attitude will create more miracles than any wonder drug.”
I guess my obstinate attitude of attending the Navy ball this year or probably a year after that is what saved us from the jaws of death. I got discharged from the hospital within a few days. Now I have attended many Navy balls and still choose my dress with care. Sometimes it has little creases, but I have learnt to take little imperfections in my stride.
This article was originally published in Deccan Herald, a leading news paper in Karnataka