Struggling for love letters: The Tribune India

Lieutenant Colonel Kuldip Singh (retired)

I married the daughter of an infantry colonel from Faridkot. In the 1960s, the region was considered backward and was known as the wild west of Punjab. Sometimes ownership disputes ended in shootings. My stepfather was respected in his village because he was an army officer, and also because he was armed with a .38 revolver.

As a captain, I was seconded from my regiment for the Technical Officers Course in 1966 at the Armored Corps Center and School, Ahmednagar (Maharashtra). Another captain, Kuldip Singh (nickname KD) was also seconded from his regiment for the course. My wife stayed with her parents in Faridkot. The course lasted four months. KD was single and during our course he frequently visited Mumbai on long weekends.

He was a cheerful officer. A day before leaving for class, he received a telegram congratulating him on having been lucky enough to have a daughter. During the tea break, he quietly came up to me and asked if I was married. When he learned that I was married and my wife was pregnant, he had a big smile on his face and handed me the telegram!

At the end of the course, all the officers went back to their regiments. With my wife and four-month-old daughter, I left to return home to Jalandhar Cantonment, which also happened to be the permanent location of my regiment. Our parents had gathered at our house for my brother’s wedding.

One night my wife confronted me with two letters. The envelopes had my name on them and were written from Mumbai in Hindi. I told him that during the course, I had never visited Mumbai from Ahmednagar and never had a girlfriend. From her face, I could tell she wasn’t convinced. What bothered me was getting shot by my stepfather. My wife gave me two days for a credible explanation.

At night, I couldn’t sleep. In the morning, the postman brought a letter from Ahmednagar addressed to me, which was also opened by my wife. When I saw the letter in his hand, I felt like I was going to be lynched. The envelope was given to me. It was for Kuldip Singh, but there was a mess note that had KD’s regiment name on it.

I breathed a sigh of relief and explained to my wife that the love letters belonged to KD, who had mistakenly been redirected to me from Ahmednagar. I could understand that she was still not entirely convinced, but the matter was resolved at that point. Even today, I keep KD’s love letters as a souvenir.

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