Sub-Lieutenant Priya Kaith, 23, was very quiet all through the group interview with her fellow cadets, until her turn came. She was the last to speak in a group interview arranged by the Indian Navy for this Correspondent, ahead of their Passing Out Parade (POP) held at the Indian Naval Academy at Ezhimala (INA) on May 30.
Hailing from Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, Priya lost her mother 15 days before the POP following a massive heart attack.
"She was everything for me. My greatest inspiration. She was only 45," says Priya. She did well to hide her emotions, probably knowing that as officers one should be strong all the time.
A B.Tech graduate in electronics, Priya joined the INA for the six-month course, after working with Tech Mahindra for an year.
"I wanted to take up a much more challenging job," says Priya., whose father works as a professor with NIT Jalandhar.
"I am keen to get into the teaching line in the Navy. I want to be remembered as a good human being and a good officer," she adds.
After a brief vacation she would picked up her first posting at INS Hamla in Mumbai.
INA changed the script of my life for good
Saino Wilson, 23, says she is almost a Delhiitie now with her parents settled there. With roots in Kerala's backwater headquarters of Allapuzha, Saino admits that she was a pampered kid before stepping into INA.
"After my PG in maths I joined INA. Until then, I would travel even the shortest distance by car. The concept of walking and running was out of bounds. But INA put an end to all those lazy habits," recalls Saino.
She says she could barely run for even five minutes in the beginning.
"I was almost dead after running for a few minutes. At INA, the script for my life has been changed for good. Today, I run 22 km at ease and without stopping. I am a changed person," says Saino, also posted to INS Hamla.
Hitting the target first time most memorable moment
Born in Varanasi, Anshita Singh, 23, completed her MSC and joined INA for a six-month course, after clearing the SSB.
Ready to be posted to the ATC at Air Force Academy, Dundigal in Hyderabad, Anshita too had an issue with running, initially.
"Running was definitely a big hurdle I had to cross. Slowly my mind, body and soul told me there's a good runner in me. The rest as they says is history, and today I can run 23 km without much hassles," says Anshita.
The first day when she fired from an INSAS rifle remains as the most-memorable moment for her at INA.
"The moment I held the rifle, took the aim and hitting the target are all still fresh in my memories. I think it transformed me into a different person," she adds.
(The writer is a seasoned aerospace and defence journalist in India. He is the Consultant Editor [Defence] with OneIndia. He tweets @writetake.)