Tryst with Destiny
Ronnie was down in the dumps. He had a small accident while taking off for his sortie. The plane engine had failed to rev up. The result? It dashed into a small hill at the edge of the runaway. The damage was not much but in case the aircraft had been airborne, it could have led to a serious accident. He was decidedly lucky because, as we know an accident in the air is unforgiving.
An accident in the airforce is a serious matter. A court of inquiry was convened and in its findings, it held Ronnie culpable. He had been grounded for three months till he could once again clear the conversion on the MIG. Ronnie was a fine pilot but on that particular day, he was in the dumps as he had drunk a little too much the night before. The reason? he had spent time with a girl from the North East. At 42 he was still a bachelor and often wondered why he didn't settle down.
Ronnie had recovered his equanimity but he was still forbidden to fly. Much of the time, he would pass sitting in the adjutant's office. One day the adjutant suggested to him to go and meet a Muslim Pir. A Muslim Pir, as we all know is a holy man who professes the Islamic faith. Ronnie was a Sikh. His name was Ronak Singh but he did not have the traditional appearance of a Sikh as he was not wearing a turban and having a beard. Ronnie asked the adjutant as to who this Pir was.
"Well Sir, Just met him a couple of times. I suggest you meet him if you are not satisfied, forget about him."
Ronnie kept quiet and wondered whether he should take the advice of the officer. He was a curious man, adventurous as well. Though he was a Sikh, he did not mind meeting the Pir. For readers who may not be aware, a Pir is a man attributed with supernatural powers. He has powers of ESP and telepathy. There are many Pir's who can read the mind of the people who come to them. In Sufi Islam, a Pir is a man who interjects between a human being and God and is supposed to give guidance to the Men, who come to him to seek his blessings.
Ronnie decided to go and meet the Pir. He took out his BMW and put the car into gear and set out to the Pir's abode. He reached the place and parked the car and went inside the small cottage. The Pir was sitting on a bed. He had a long flowing beard and wore a cap.
As Ronnie entered the room, the Pir looked at Ronnie and smiled. It was a radiant smile and one of the disciples asked Ronnie to sit down on the carpeted floor. Ronnie sat down on the floor and began to pray. He began to recite the Jap, the sacred prayer, taught to him by his mother.
After some moments the Pir beckoned to Ronnie to come closer. Ronnie got up and as is the custom kissed the hand of the Pir. This physical contact seemed to have a magical effect on him and he had a feeling that he was in the presence of a man with spiritual power.
The Pir told him," Look, son, I know why you have come. I am so glad that you have been reciting the sacred prayer in your mind."
This was a surprise to Ronnie and he wondered how this man knew that he had been reciting the prayer. The Pir looked at Ronnie and said, "you are in trouble in your profession but do not worry God is going to solve all your problems and you will also have a promotion."
Ronnie thought the Pir was talking all nonsense. Was he not aware that a court of inquiry had blamed him for the aircraft accident and no promotion would be coming for some more time? He, however, kept quiet.
The Pir said softly, " I have interceded with the Allmighty and he has enjoined me to show you another path; a path which may mean very little to you but for someone else a great significance."
"What is it? Baba," Ronnie asked.
"Look son you will have to go to the Mazar of Pir Qadri and pay your respects there."
"Why must I go and pray at the Mazar?"
The Pir smiled, "That is the way of the Lord and there is nothing I can do about it but if you do it and go and pray at the Mazar, you will get what you want. Maybe you will also get a gift."
Now, friends, Mazar is a holy tomb where men of great wisdom and superpowers who are considered saints are interred.
Ronnie left the Pir's abode after paying his obedience to the holy man. He kissed his hand and left. As he left he found that his indecision had gone and he decided he would go and visit the Mazar of Pir Qadri.
The Tale Develops
Next Sunday, Ronnie revved up his BMW and began to drive towards the Mazar. The drive was uneventful and soon he reached the small road leading up the hill to the shrine. The road was not properly paved but Ronnie continued forward on the makeshift Road. He could see the Mazar up in the hills and to him, it appeared a picturesque sight.
He changed gears and the BMW began the climb up the hill. Nature began to play a hand and it began to drizzle. The drizzle soon turned into a downpour. Readers would be well aware that the monsoon in the Western Ghats is something terrific. It is a beautiful time, which has been eulogized by many poets and writers and generally considered to be the period when lovers meet. Unlike in the West in London where the rain leads to a dreary atmosphere, the rain in the subcontinent is both exhilarating and elevating.
Ronnie had half a mind to turn back but as the road was narrow, he decided to continue. He also realized that due to the narrowness of the road it would take him some time to reverse the car and come down. In any case, the shrine was only a few kilometers further and he pressed forward. In the meantime, the rain continued and graduated into a torrential downpour. The visibility from the car was reduced to almost zero but he pressed forward.
He reached the shrine and pulled up outside the Mazar. He was wondering what to do and whether to go inside. The rain had now become a torrent and lightning and thunder began to flash across the sky. Ronnie looked at the sky and liked what he saw. He was happy and had a feeling that maybe whatever the Baba has said could come true. He made up his mind to enter the Mazar.
Ronnie walked towards the Mazar and in a few short steps reached the porch. it was a very old monument and there was a small marking on a stone on it. He had a close look and saw an engraving that it was built in 1857. That was a good 150 years back.
It was then that Ronnie observed that by a pillar stood a young girl. Maybe she was 20 or 21. That made him double her age. The girl had probably come to the Mazar just a few moments back and she was drenched to the skin.
She wore a green colored salwar- kameez and the heavy rain ensured that it clung to her body. The result was that her body contours stood out in relief, conveying the fact that she was a very beautiful woman. Her skin was fair and large eyes accentuated her allure. Ronnie wondered whether the Pir knew that a beautiful girl would be awaiting him. He dismissed the thought from his mind and assumed that it must be a coincidence.
The girl also saw him and realized that he was able to see her as God had created her. At 42 and a bachelor, Ronnie felt a desire, a feeling that he had not experienced for a long time.
A cold wind began to blow and thunder boomed and boomed again. Lightning flashed across the sky. As the rain increased in propensity, the visibility was reduced to zero. The girl gasped involuntarily and then Ronnie remembered the flask with hot coffee in the car.
Ronnie did not say a word but quickly dashed to his BMW. He pulled out the flask with the coffee and rushed back to the Mazar. The rain had now become a torrent, almost like an avalanche. A cold wind was blowing and it had become chilly. He didn't say a word as he poured coffee into a cup and handed it to the girl. "Drink it," he said, "it's cold and you will feel better."
She took the proffered cup and kept on looking at Ronnie intently. He was a handsome man and with the T-shirt clinging to his body because of the rain made his pectoral muscles and biceps stand out. He looked at the girl and realized that she was Muslim. To his mind at the time, with the rain falling all around and the trees swaying in the breeze, she looked like a "Hourie," a beautiful nymph from Paradise. He wondered why he was there but soon dismissed the thought from his mind. He asked the girl, "why have you come?"
"I don't know why," she answered," but my father was almost going to sell me to a very old man and I didn't want to marry him so I left home and came here."
"How did you know about this place?"
She paused for a moment and replied, "it was a Pir baba who told me to come here but you will not understand."
"Did this man tell you to come here? When did you meet him?"
"I met Baba only yesterday and conveyed my problem to him and this is what he told me to do. He told me that if I come to this Mazar I will meet a very handsome man..."
He didn't say anything. At the same time, the girl realized her position with the dress clinging to her body. Something began to churn in the mind of Ronnie. He could see the dots joining together. There was no doubt that this tryst has been arranged by the Pir. He did not believe in the supernatural but at the same time, he was a little bit unsure.
Here was the perfect surrounding, almost like the garden of Eden with a small Mazar. Not a soul was around and the rain pelting on the earth with thunder flashing across the sky. The Idyll was disturbed by a boom followed by a tremendous crash of thunder as lightning hit a tree just a few feet away.
There was a gasp and a half screen as the lightning hit the tree. It could have very well hit the Mazar and that would be the end of Ronnie and the girl. But it did not happen that way. The lightning strike and resultant thunder had an effect and the girl dropped the cup from my hands and it fluttered away into the rain outside.
The crash and thunder had another effect and Ronnie gathered the girl in his arms. He was reminded of the time when Lord Indra had crushed a lovely goddess to his chest. Ronnie instinctively knew that the rain God and Indira were on his side. He wondered what had come over him as he pressed forward.
He kissed the girl who tried to avert her face but with not a soul in sight and thunder crashing across the horizon, the inevitable had to happen. It happened as decreed by the Gods it was like a hot sophomoric delight as he held the girl in his arms.
He opened his mouth as her mouth opened the rainwater intermingled. After what appeared an eon, it was over. Ronnie got up and lifted the girl and cradled are in his arms and with lips glued, carried her into the rain. He was the master with thunder, lightning, and rain all around, it was a hedonistic delight.
After it was all over they sat chatting for a long time. Ronnie came to know her name was Sabina.
What happened next will interest readers as Ronnie reached the office the next day he received a telephone call from the AOC. He told him that the findings of the court of inquiry had been rejected by the competent authority and he had also been cleared for promotion to the next rank.
Ronnie's mind was in a whirl and immediately decided to go to the Pir. He wondered how the events had unfolded. His rational mind told him it was something simple and no miracle was involved. He preferred to think that was correct. As he entered the cottage he was wonderstruck to see the same girl sitting close to the Seer. The Pir smiled at Ronnie and said, "look you have got your promotion and now you have to do something for me."
He took the girl's hand and held it towards Ronnie with the words, "take her with you and live a life of joy and happiness." Did Ronnie take her hand? Ah! That's another story.