Life resumed its normal course soon after the tragic Gubir crash. I did not know what went on in all the Nuri households but I was temporarily spared the agony of having to worry about my husband flying operational. But it was short-lived. He soon got what he had yearned for ever since becoming a Nuri copilot. He got his Nuri captaincy. His exuberance and enthusiasm did nothing to lift my spirits or lessen my fears.
While he was making a tortoise-pace progress in his career, he fared badly on the social scene. A man steeped in principles, there was no way he could be easily influenced. He would be outrightly blunt in his opinions, charging head-on much to the displeasure of both his fellow junior officers and the senior officers alike. My pleas for a more diplomatic approach in addressing a problem fell on deaf ears. This stand made him grossly unpopular and one which would cost him dearly in his career.
In an era when the colonial influence was still thick and heavy, any form of objection or refusal to adopt the culture was translated as ultra-conservative, old-fashioned and weird even. It was at a time when the Officers Mess hosted many fabulous parties ranging from the most casual to the most elaborate and formal ones. We, the wives would don ourselves in long flowing evening gowns, hair coiffered to perfection, face painstakingly painted up, stepping out in style in glittering stilettos, tapping our feet to the rhythm of the 70’s music. It was at a time when Port and Madeira wine flowed freely. It was trendy then to be a little bit tipsy or drunk even, but both my husband and I steered clear of the liquor.
There was an incident that happened during a Hari Raya open house which remains firmly fixed in my mind to this day. Although we never declared our house opened that morning first day of Raya, the officers came, one of them carrying a bottle of wine along knowing perfectly well that my husband hated the stuff. My husband would have told him off had it not been for the eye signals that I kept on sending him not to create a scene. While I played the gracious host, I noticed my husband was slowly turning green trying to suppress his anger. I really don’t know what the officer’s intentions were and I don’t like to speculate. I hope he was drunk enough that morning not to remember it was him I’m writing about here. Immediately after the party left I was given a crash course on Islam. My act of preventing him (my husband) from telling off the officer could be misinterpreted as condoning his actions.
While many chose to succumb to the demands of the day, my husband chose to go against the flow. He stood firm and formidable in his beliefs and principles, undaunted by all the taunts and torments that came his way. An admirable trait but one which saw him plunge further down the popularity ladder. I was not helping him either. My lukewarm attitude towards the Wives Club made me equally unpopular, too. So, we were the perfect match for each other.
Our unpopularity did not really bother us. Not yet, anyway. He was not due for promotion yet so there was no cause for immediate concern. Although the signs and symptoms were slowly showing, they were not obvious enough to stop us in our tracks and force us to reevaluate our strategy.
To be continued…….