The Sergeant's Wife
Mike entered the office of the adjutant. Manjit Singh popularly called Mike had received a call and so he was entering the office. Mike was a Squadron Leader aged 40 and a bachelor. The authorities, therefore, transferred him from one place to another routinely. He was now posted at Barrackpore close to Calcutta. He was a professional and held in high esteem by his colleagues. A master green he was the last word in flying fighters.
Mike lived alone but he was not a misogynist. He loved women and went out of his to court one if she caught his fancy. He had his share of love affairs but somehow he had remained a bachelor all these years.
The adjutant a young Flying Officer got up from the chair and greeted the senior officer. "Sir," he said, "I have received orders from Air Headquarters for your transfer to the testing division of Hindustan Aeronautics in Bangalore. It appears they needed a test pilot and as you had volunteered to test the latest Marut HF- 24, Air Headquarters has thought it fit to post you to Bangalore. After all, you are a qualified QFI as well."
The die was cast and Mike resumed duty at Bangalore.
Everything moved with clockwork precession. Mike settled down and got into the groove of things. One evening he decided to go for a spin. He took out his Standard Herald car. The Standard Herald was a coupe with a retractable roof. The car come with him in the massive IL-76 which had brought him from Barrackpore to Bangalore. He pulled the canopy up and drove to the lake. This was the Ulsoor lake, a vast expanse of water close to his quarters. He parked the car under a large banyan tree and then sat back and surveyed the surroundings. A cool wind blew and he relished the wind as it lapped his face. His eagle eye observed a young girl sitting on the parapet wall abutting the lake. This lake had many lovers sitting around it arm in arm.
In a place where only couples sat, Mike observed that this girl sat alone. Did he wonder why? She seemed to stare into the vast expanse of the lake. He wondered what she was thinking as she was alone. The girl wore a low cut blouse with a cotton sari. She was extremely fair and Mike's heart warmed at her beauty. Her hair bunched in a ponytail accentuated her allure. He could see she wore a backless blouse and could make out she was exceedingly fair.
He looked at her for a long time before going away. He tarried for a few more minutes and kept on looking at the lonely girl. He guessed her age as about 22. He wanted to talk to her but he didn't as he drove away. The girl sitting alone staring into the waters, however, remained fixed in his mind.
The next day he went to the hanger and had a look at the Marut. It was engineered by Dr. Kurt Tank, a German who was the Chief designer of the Focke-Wulf 200 during the war and now had made India his home. By the looks, the Marut was a marvelous feat of engineering and he resolved to give it a ground run initially.
The ground crew helped him climb into the cockpit and he examined the cluster of instruments and sensors. He started the engine and it roared to life. He gave it a low RPM run and then signaled to the airmen that the testing was over for the day. As he got out of the cockpit his mind reverted back to the lonely girl on the lake. He had no rational explanation for it, so he decided to make a visit to the lake again.
In the evening he drove again to the lake. He pulled up under the same banyan tree where he had parked his car yesterday. As he switched off the engine he saw the girl sitting at the same spot. She was gazing into the distant horizon where the lake seemed to merge with the sky. Mike got out of his car and briskly walked towards the girl. He climbed on the parapet and sat down a few feet from the girl. His entry made the girl turn her face and what Mike saw pleased him immensely. The girl had large almond-shaped eyes with a sculptured nose and almost rosy lips. Mike wondered if it was the result of a touch of lipstick. He also observed she was slim and wiry. Lascivious thoughts flooded his mind and he thought how she would look without her sari. Don't be a fool his mind told him and he thought it better to go away.
The next day as he was getting into his flying overall he looked at the Chiefie ( Flight Sergeant) and asked, " Chiefie, how long have you been with HAL?"
"Nearly three years Sir. But now I have completed my tenure and likely to be posted out."
" I have a question and wonder if you can answer it?"
" What is it, sir"
" I have observed a young woman sitting on the parapet facing the lake. Do you know anything about her? "
" Ah! Yes. She is the wife of Sergeant David Roy. The poor man died a few months back and now is alone. But the lady is of loose morals and many say she sleeps with many men. "
" Sleeps with many men? "
"Yes. That what I have heard though I have no proof. She is rumored to be a veritable harlot. "
"Her husband? "
" Never seen the man around. Nobody seems to know him but this is what the lady says. I believe her name is Kavita."
Armed with this bit of information Mike resolved to talk to the girl. A harlot? So she could not be a virgin. His mind was at rest and now and he had no qualms about trying to bed her.
He drove his car to the same spot and parked it under the tree. This had become his favorite parking spot. A cold wind blew and he could smell that a thunderstorm was in the offing. Dark clouds covered the sky and thunder boomed and boomed again.
Mike looked out through the gathering gloom and saw Kavita sitting gazing into the waters.
His mind was made up as he walked swiftly towards her. He neared her and coughed slightly. He wanted to catch her attention. She looked at him and in the falling twilight, Mike was struck by the glow on her face. A harlot? He wanted to disbelieve it but he also believed his Chiefie and was sure he had told him the truth.
He sat next to her and said softly, "My name is Mike, I am a squadron leader. I have come to HAL to test the Marut."
She looked at Mike and smiled. He could make out she must be about 22 or 23 but now Mike desired her. That she was harlot made all objections vanish from his mind
Mike sat down next to Kavita. He looked at her closely. She didn't look at him. The rumble in the clouds increased and lightning flashed across the sky. It began to drizzle and soon the rain picked up. Kavita had come prepared as she opened an umbrella while Mike continued to sit. The rain commenced and the wind began to blow strongly. The ferocity of the wind increased along with the rain. A clap of thunder and the umbrella flew from Kavita's hand. The wind carried it across the waters and Mike could see it fall in the water. There was no way she or even Mike who was an ace swimmer could retrieve it.
Kavita wrapped her arms around her chest as the rain began to lash around. It was as if the heavens had burst. The girl still did not get up.
" Look, " Mike shouted " it's dangerous to get wet. Come with me ."
She hesitated as Mike got up and seized her hand. He was strong and decades military training had hardened him. In a moment he had lifted her up and in swift movement cradled her and brought her to the car. The canopy was down and the car was open but there was some protection from the large banyan tree. He thrust her into the front seat even as the girl sneezed. He pulled the roof of the Herald down and then sat down next to the girl. No words were spoken and Mike wondered what to do next. The girl was wet and the blouse and sari clung to her body.
The rain now increased in ferocity as Mike put the car into gear. The car moved forward but visibility was low.
" Where is your house? I will drop you there."
"Just a short distance away. Drive straight. "
"You are wet and need a change."She did not reply.
Five minutes later she motioned him to stop, " This is my house". Mike observed a low single-story house. In the haze, he could make out it was a pretty ramshackle place.
"Thanks, I will manage," she said in a soft voice as the rain beating down on the earth made her almost inaudible.
Mike saw the girl called Kavita, get out of the car with the rain beating on the earth. As she got out of the car Mike could make out the wet sari clinging to her body accentuating her curves. The house was a little distance away and Mike took a conscientious decision to help the girl reach the porch. The devil seized him and in a moment he was out of the car. He moved swiftly and cradled the girl in his arms. She appeared so light, but as he was a man who did a benchpress of 150 kg Kavita was like a doll to him.
"The rain is heavy let me carry you inside." At the back of his mind was the words of Chiefie echoed, " Sir she is a harlot... "
Without listening to her protestations he carried her to the small porch and kicked open the door. He carried her inside and laid her on a large divan.
" You are wet and you will get cold." At the same time, he began to strip her sari from her body.
What happened next was witnessed only by the Gods. The God Indra fused into warrior Arjuna and the girl was like the princess Rukmini. The act was witnessed by them with the rain beating on the earth and the wind making a screeching sound. Mike overpowered the girl. It was a long time as he used his knowledge to good effect as he roused her. Thunder was crashing all around and the house shook like an aspen leaf. A mighty crash took place as lightning hit a tree. The earth shook and a gasp from Kavita thrilled Mike. By God, all the tales of her being a harlot were simply not true. Varsha was a virgin.
He was shaken with what had happened. He knew that this action today was not a ‘blaze of passion.’ he had fallen in love with Kavita! He loved her because everything around willed it, the trees and the clouds and the sky over their heads and the cottage. Mike was shaken. What had happened was beyond his wildest dreams. He could have never imagined that the girl people were talking about being a woman of loose morals was, in reality, a virgin. How did this happen? His mind was in a whirl as he kissed her tears away from her eyes.
He whispered, "I love you, will you marry me?"
The Handiwork of the Lord
Mike reached his quarter and slumped on the bed. What the hell had he done? But now he realized that the lord may have willed it and he resolved to claim Kavita as his wife. He had proposed and she had not replied. He would follow up today! He did not sleep the whole night as the image of Kavita and the tumultuous event of the evening flashed before his eyes. He got up early morning and put on his tracksuit and decided to go for a run. The weather was still murky and the rain had not let up though the wind velocity and decreased.
Mike pulled the hood of the tracksuit over his head and began to take big strides into the rain. He wanted to expiate for the act of the night before. He wanted to atone for it but at the same time, he realized that finally after all these years he had found a partner who could be with him. Age difference? yes, it was there but he knew it could be bridged.
He returned after a 5-mile run and dressed up. This time he wore his uniform replete with his medals including the medal for bravery which he had won in the battle in a dogfight when he had downed an enemy plane. He pinned the "wound Medal" on his breast; a record of getting shot in the leg when he was parachuting down from another burning wreck of his Gnat.
He walked straight to the AOC's office, opened the door and went inside. He saluted and the old man asked, "what brings you to me, Mike?"
"Sir I have decided to get married and I seek your permission for the same."
"That's wonderful, just go to the adjutant and fill-up the form and then let me know where should we come for the celebration."
It was so simple but then he wondered whether Kavita would accept him? He drove straight to the cottage and parked the car outside as he rushed inside. He reached the porch and found the door locked. He rattled the door and an old man appeared as if from nowhere.
"Who are you,? "he asked. Seeing Mike in his uniform and medals his demeanor changed.
"I want to talk to Kavita. Where is she?"
"She left an hour ago with her bag. I think she must be going to her village. She could be at the bus stand."
The old man seemed to guess as he said softly, "hurry officer, hurry and get to her before the bus leaves for Mangalore."
Mike drove fast and reached the bus stand.
"Where is the bus to Mangalore?"
"Sir, It left fifteen minutes back. The next bus will be after four hours." a conductor answered, "should I give you a ticket for that bus?"
Mike did not reply as he rushed to his car and hit the road to Mangalore. He drove fast and after half an hour of intense driving he caught up with the bus. He crossed the bus and signaled the driver to stop. Seeing Mike in his regalia he was surprised and stopped the bus. Mike saw Kavita sitting inside the bus.
"Kavita, "he said, "Come down and be with me. I want to marry you, Lord Krishna has willed it!"
The passengers saw Mike in his uniform and all eyes turned to the girl. Many began to clap. They understood what was happening. There was an officer proposing and they wanted Kavita to accept. Did she? That's another story! Also how the harlot tag stuck to her but readers will have to wait for it.