Letters from Indian Soldiers in WWI by David Omissi
In Indian Voices of the Great War, British historian David Omissi collected letters written during WWI by Indian soldiers. One soldier asks for charas, another for ladies shoes, and yet another for a flute not because he needs it but because he has ‘great longing for a flute to play’. The reader can only imagine his request for a musical intrument, for music, and what that means to him amidst trench warfare. One soldier writes about his four year abcense and so allowing his wife to remarry according to vedic rites for the dignity of the family, another writes about the real reason he wants the ladies shoes which is not because he is having an affair, and yet another sends home a picture of an American female aviator so Indian women can see what they can aspire to.
Balwant Singh (Sikh) to Pandit Chet Ram (Amritsar, Punjab)
24th October 1915
The ladies are very nice and bestow their favours upon us freely. But contrary to the custom in our country they do not put their legs over the shoulders when they go with a man. [Deleted]
read letter excerpts in Caravan: A Journal of Politics and Culture