A Fleeting Love That Fullfills a Dream
On my return from Russia, the Directorate of Operation decided I needed a change and gave me command of a chopper unit on the foothills of Himalayas. My unit consisted of the MI- 17 helicopters. This is a very sturdy machine and excellent for mountain flying and carrying large loads
I took over command and felt relaxed and happy because it was a different ball game from flying supersonics. However, in my heart, I hoped this tenure would not be too long. I longed to go back to flying supersonics, planes that fly at Mach 2. This form of thrill cannot be replicated anywhere else.
One morning I arose from bed and my orderly brought me a couple of cookies and a hot cup of coffee along with the day's newspaper.
After I had refreshed, my orderly helped me with my uniform and belt and suitably attired stepped out into the porch. I heard the horn of a jeep and sure enough, the vehicle which was to take me to the airfield pulled up. I got into the jeep which set course for the crew room.
I must inform my readers that the crew room is a central place for all pilots and serves breakfast. It is also a place to relax as well and has a briefing room for the flight commander and meteorological officer's briefing.It is also the place where a healthy breakfast is served. This is called a pre-flight meal. It is extremely essential for those who fly supersonics. When you fly a supersonic you are subjected to forces equal to 7G and 8G and blood sugar is an important factor. In case the blood sugar is low there is a chance you could have a fainting fit and doctors recommend a healthy breakfast before flying. I had a sumptuous breakfast and then the AOC came to the briefing room. The Air Officer Commanding told me, "look we have an emergency mission right now."
"What is it sir," I asked.
He replied, "there is an American girl who was trekking from Rishikesh to Badrinath which you know is at a height of 14000 feet and unless you are used to it you are likely to suffer hypoxia"
I nodded my head, The AOC continued, "I understand from the message which has come that this girl is suffering from hypoxia and is at the moment quartered in a small guest house close to the temple. The local doctor has put her on Oxygen but she has to be evacuated immediately. There is no time, I suggest you take the MI 17 to the heights of Badrinath and bring that girl back I think once she comes down to the plains she will be OK but speed is of the essence."
"Fine," I said, "I am all game for it"
The AOC smiled and said," you are the most experienced pilot here who has flown in the Himalayas and now that you have finished your breakfast take the met briefing and get going."
The flight commander came to me and said that junior Flying Officer Kavita would be my co-pilot and she will learn what it means to fly with a professional like you.'
I and Kavita got the weather briefing and the Met officer told that dark clouds are collecting in the Himalayas and it might snow. So he suggested that we take off immediately for Badrinath.
As we walked to the chopper, Kavita looked at me and said, "Sir, I am so glad I am going with you."
"That's nice," I said, "this flight will be a nice education for you and you will learn how to negotiate the world's highest mountains as there is nothing like this in America and these Mountains are our friends but if you trifle with them they can be unrelenting."
As we walked, I looked around and saw the mountains rising in the sky. What a beautiful scene it was and then my thoughts were cut short by the words of Kavita," sir I like you very much."
This was a bit of a surprise for me but I told her, "let's finish the DI and get ready to fly out." The technical officer said all ok and I started the engine of the helicopter. The Rotor soon increased its RPM and I pulled the Lever so that the chopper began to move slightly forward. It began to lift from the ground and in a moment we were airborne and heading towards the Himalayas, on way to towards Badrinath. I got on my RT and spoke to the doctor at Badrinath, " can you tell me something about this girl ?"
"Yes," he replied, "Her name is Jenny and she is from the United States. By the way, she is the daughter of the Ambassador. She had come here on a trek from Rishikesh to Badrinath but after reaching here she was breathless and unable to breathe because of the atmosphere and I have put her on Oxygen. She must be evacuated immediately."
"Fine," I said "I am on my way"
MI17 soared into the sky and soon we were nearing the mighty mountains. My altimeter showed we were at 12000 feet and I piloted the machine through the mountains touching 15000 feet. I could look down below and see the temple of Badrinath. It is one of the holiest shrines of the Hindus. I began to descend towards the ALG helipad and began to hover over it before landing
I brought the helicopters down. I kept the machine running and then suddenly Kavita vomited. I was alarmed and I switched off the motor. I looked at Kavita and asked, "What's happened ?"
"I don't know," she replied, " but I want to see a doctor."
The doctor came up to the aircraft and I told him, "doctor, I think I have a casualty onboard. She is my co-pilot, I suggest you take her to the rest house while I take the other casualty down."
I got down from the chopper and helped Kavita climb down. The doctor escorted her to the guest house. I shouted at her, "I will radio for another chopper to pick you up, or I will come back."
Then I saw the stretcher approach. A girl with an oxygen mask was lying prone on it,
"Captain," the doctor said, "you can take the American girl Jenny down and I will make your co-pilot comfortable."
"Yes" I replied
"Captain, the weather forecast is not good, it is likely to rain or snow, so I suggest you better hurry up.''
The Mi 17 is a very big helicopter and the stretcher was accommodated at the back with a medical orderly. I looked at the girl and realized she was good-looking but very young. I did not say anything I just said'," Fix straps on the stretcher as we are going to take off soon and the weather is going to turn bad as we are at a height of 14,000 feet."
I planned to quickly take off and soar up and then the descend to 6000 feet so the effects of hypoxia could be over''
The medical orderly, a young boy who had jumped in the back made the girl comfortable on the stretcher. She was looking at me with wide eyes and I could make out they were blue and large.
I waved to the Doctor who was a local and the engine of the chopper soon began to pick up the RPM and slowly began to rise into the sky. I knew I would have to go 15000 feet before I could come down because of the high mountains. I looked at the girl and asked, "Jenny, you okay? hold on for another 15 minutes and take a deep breath of oxygen and then we shall descend to the plains."
She nodded her head and the machine was soon airborne. Far away I could see the Temple of Badrinath. I remembered just a few years back there had been a massive snowstorm and avalanche and more than 1000 persons have been killed including pilgrims. The Himalayas are not something that can be trifled with.
Soon I had risen to a height of 15,400 feet and I saw the temple receding as I crossed the peaks onward towards my airbase. I made radio contact with ATC and told them that I was airborne from the helipad. The AOC came online and told me, " look M, the Met officer has just passed a message that clouds are gathering. You may not be able to make it back to the base. I suggest you come down to a height of 5000 feet and try and land at one of our advanced Landing grounds. There is a small hut there and I'm sure the girl will recover there. Best of luck.''
I was now coming down and was at 9000 feet when a massive squall hit the chopper and it bounced up and down in the air. I held the machine expertly and saw that a cloudburst was coming. I looked below and saw the ALG. It began to rain heavily and luckily I was able to bring the machine to land on the Advanced Landing Ground called "zero."I saw that Jenny was worried and had closed her eyes.
I told the medical orderly, " we are in some trouble but nothing to worry as we have landed. In the meantime help me to carry this stretcher inside the small hut which we maintain here. Then come back and help me secure the helicopter to the big metal stones which are lying here so that the chopper stays firm and does not topple over."
We took the girl inside the small hut which had two rooms and a small toilet. Leaving the girl inside we came and moored the helicopter. The rain had now picked up and lightning and thunder flashing across the sky but thank God we were safe.
Inside the hut, I looked at the girl and said, "look we are going to disconnect the oxygen. Now take a deep breath when we disconnect. We are now at a height of 5000 feet and the rarefied atmosphere has gone, so don't worry I am here."
The medical orderly disconnected the oxygen supply and the girl slowly got up. She was indeed beautiful and slim and my heart warmed to her.
"I am very thankful to you that you have saved my life. While I was in the temple, I was wondering whether I will survive because I just could not breathe."
"Be careful? "I said, " but now we are stuck because the Himalayan storm has commenced."
There was some firewood in the hut and I told the orderly to light it. He left after lighting the hearth and went into the adjoining room and lay down on the small bed there. He pulled the quilt around him and I assumed he is thankful that he was safe.
The girl now got up from the stretcher and asked me whether I had anything for her to eat. One of the cardinal principles of such flying is a hot case with food that was loaded onto the chopper. I said, " I have a hot case with sandwiches and coffee which can last us a day or two. I will just go and get it from the helicopter."
"Don't go in the storm, " she said.
"Don't worry," I said, "I will be back before you can say, Jack Robinson. In the meantime make yourself comfortable here,"
I was wondering at the turn of events which had taken place and wondered how all this has happened. Kavita falling sick and getting caught in a storm and me landing in an advanced Landing ground with Jenny. The altimeter on the chopper had shown a height of 4950 feet and I knew that the girl will recover soon.
I brought the hot case and took out a sandwich and asked the medical orderly to come and take his share.
Outside the rain was beating mercilessly. The girl looked at me and said, " sir you better take off your overalls so that they can dry." " yes, "I replied, "that is a good idea."
I stripped to my underpants, all the time eyeing the girl was looking at me. I could see that there was some admiration in her eyes. After we finished the meal she came towards me and said how can we pass the time?"
"That is not a problem," I said "I will tell you the tales from Hindu mythology and we can chat about them. I will tell you about the legend of the temple of Badrinath as well as Lord Krishna and how he carried away the princess Rukmini when she was defended by a force of a hundred thousand soldiers and the lord was all alone."
The stories engrossed her and after some time, she got up and came and sat on the arm of my small sofa. "ok" I said," it's time for tea and coffee." Outside thunder rent, the air and the small hut shook like a leaf as lightning hit a nearby tree. This affected Jenny and she clutched me.
The Garden of Eden
It was getting dark. After some time, she said that she would like to sleep. She looked around and said, "It looks like my small haversack with my clothes has been left back at Badrinath. I have nothing to wear except what I am wearing now and I would like to change." There was an innocence about her as she quickly removed the jeans, shoes, and jacket and in the minimum clothes went under the massive military blankets. Sitting in the chair I was witness to the beauty of Jenny. There was no doubt that she was a really beautiful girl and I could not help feeling that she must have been in her previous birth a muse who played in the garden of Lord Krishna. She looked at me with clear blue eyes and said:" you saved my life and I am not scared of you, there is a thunderstorm outside and it's cold come inside the blanket with me. " After a moment's hesitation I went under the covers and Jenny held me close. All she said was, "' I would have died but for you thank you." She dozed off and both of us went to sleep. I held her in my arms as she snuggled close to me and though aroused I never wanted to do anything. Nothing happened beyond that and the next morning both of us got up. She looked at me with clear blue eyes and whispered, " you are better than the lord, thanks for everything"
I opened the hot case and found the last 2 sandwiches and gave one to the medical orderly and one to Jenny. She asked, " what about you? "
I told her I will eat later. She came into my arms and her bare flesh was like an incandescent flame. She let her arms encircle me and said " you were fantastic and we slept together. We share this as well". She took a bite and kissed. It was something spontaneous and my arms encircled her.
After we had eaten Jenny snuggled close to me. Passion now took a hand and involuntarily I pushed the straps of her bust support down and baring her carried her to the small bed. What followed was a hedonistic delight. In all my 41 years I had missed something as I felt myself floating on a cloud.
It was something unreal and it had to happen. The way the incident had been choreographed it could only be the handiwork of God. As I held her close she asked me something which even now looks a little bizarre. She asked me the question "did Rukmani conceive from the Lord?" I kissed her repeatedly and said, " I do not know."
One thing I loved was the moment.
She was dragging her hair across my eyes. Kiss her, I thought, anguished, because she was so near, I knew. She lightly bit my shoulder. She was lowering herself more. She was brushing her body across my face. I wanted to take to get as much of her to worship as possible. It was a sheer pleasure and it was good.
We disengaged, shaking.
The weather had cleared and to cut the story short I took off and landed at the airbase. When I got up I found that the Ambassador was there and Jenny's mother came and thanked for all the help given
Jenny left and I thought she was gone forever. About 6 weeks later I got a telephone call from my mum she told me, " son can you take some leave and come over the home?"
"what's the problem?" I asked.
She replied, "there is no problem but something good has happened so I like you to come here." I applied for a week's leave and reached home. Our home is a fairly large house almost palatial in the hills at Mussoorie.
I reached home and my mother opened the door. She told me, " you are my son but you been keeping secrets for me"
"Ÿes " and she called out and low and behold Jenny wearing a beautiful Ghagra and blouse as a Hindu bride came. She rushed into my arms.
My mother said, "I have called the purohit and the marriage will be at 3 am, you will not touch Jenny till then, after that she is yours. "
Her eyes twinkled, "you should have told me Jenny is with a child."