Monday, 14 May 2018

Diary Of A Soldier-5. An English Translation of Gautam Rajrishi's -Fauji Ki Diary (फ़ौजी की डायरी)

I Love You Fly Boy 

Date  : January 27, 2017                                                                                                                              Place : An army helipad somewhere in Jammu-Nagrota

It's getting to be four in the afternoon. Piercing through the fog after a day long struggle, the Sun God smiles eventually. Two pilots from army aviation - a major and a captain - in their smart, fitted uniforms are  preparing to return with their helicopter to their aviation base situated somewhere in the interior of central Kashmir. The journey from this helipad to their aviation base will take approximately an hour and a quarter. The two arrived here only the day before, crossing the snowy ranges of Pirpanjal with their advance light helicopter- Dhruv,... to provide extra security against the countless threats received in view of the twenty sixth of January. The rotors of the helicopter are gradually gaining speed. After a cursory look around, the major comes to sit in the cockpit signalling to the captain with a small shake of his head. With his right hand, the captain increases the pressure on the joy-stick... full throttle... raising something like a dust-storm. The moment the speed of rotor-fans reaches three hundred and fifteen rotations per minute, the gigantic five tonne helicopter rises in the air, defying the gravity of the earth. The band of vagrant clouds adrift a little below, adds a crease or two to the zigzag of creases present already on the major's brow. Playing with the vagrancy of the clouds the rotor fans, by then, bring the helicopter to a safe height... above that vagrant band. The snowy Pirpanjal peaks, visible on the distant horizon in front, are gradually coming closer. All that is required is to cross over these peaks.The flight over the valley-floor beyond is child-play.  A bunch of clouds, hanging over the Pirpanjal, smiles, as if conspiratorially,  on seeing the coming helicopter. The captain is not particularly bothered. This is perhaps his first flight in the area. But the few, sporadic drops of sweat amid the suddenly increasing  lines zigzagging on the major's brow are telling another tale. The helicopter is moving very slowly because of the fog and the clouds. It is imperative as per orders that they reach the base before five-thirty in the evening. In the freezing cold, the day appears for ever to be in a haste to leave, and the night, ever ready to make its appearance by six. This is an advance helicopter only in name, its capacity for a night flight being almost zero.

Date  : 27 January 2017                                                                                                                              Place : A forest below Pirpanjal, somewhere in southern Kashmir valley
Its nine-thirty in the morning. A section of the forest this side of the valley booms suddenly with sounds of bullet-fire. The nearby National Rifles Battalion had received confirmed news of four terrorists hiding in the jungle just the previous night and the first appearance of the Sun god has blown the bugle of an encounter. Two of the terrorists have been neutralized, two are being chased. It has been over seven hours. One of the army-units on the chase has reached very deep inside the jungle and one of the surviving terrorists has been killed. There is no sign of the other. One of the team... the lance naik of the unit is injured. A bullet has hit his abdomen.  First-aid has put a stop to the bleeding, but it is imperative he reaches the hospital at once. The nearest road is four hours away. A message, to send a helicopter at the earliest has been sent on the wireless to the aviation base.
Date : 27 January 2017                                                                                                                                Place: Directly above Pirpanjal

It is going to be five in the evening. The major has taken over complete control of the helicopter. The captain who appeared relaxed till a few seconds back seems agitated. The helicopter, battling the fog and the horde of conspiring clouds is directly over the summits of Pirpanjal. On his radio-set, the major receives a message from the base about the ongoing encounter right below him and also about the jawan injured during the encounter. The base... as also darkness, is still half an hour away. The dilemma in the majors mind is at its peak. The rules state that he can keep flying towards his base. He is under no pressure. As per rules and orders he should, in view of the security of the expensive helicopter and its two trained pilots, land at the base by the time its five-thirty. At that height of his dilemma he remembers his major friend... his close buddy, who is posted in that very National Rifles Battalion and suddenly the helicopter turns towards the jungle below Pirpanjal. Ignoring the captain's lips mumbling in protest, the major runs his left hand over his brow, erasing the zigzag of all lines on his brow like lines of chalk drawn over a slate.

Date  : 27 January 2017                                                                                                                              Place : A dense part of a jungle somewhere in the southern Kashmir valley directly below Pirpanjal.

The time is almost a quarter past five. The evening has descended somewhat early in this interior of the jungle. In between the chirruping of crickets, one can hear intermittent sounds of a person's groans. The worried eyes of fellow soldiers of the injured lance-naik  rise again and again to the sky. With the descending darkness, the sound of the injured lance-naik's moans are growing dim. And then, amid the sound of the crickets' chirruping, rises anther sound from the sky. The silhouette of the huge rotor fans of the sudden shape of the helicopter above the trees comes as an elixir for the by now disheartened lance-naik. The helicopter, poised a little above the ground, is rattling up the entire jungle. The injured lance-naik and one of his mates come to give company to the lonesome twosome of the major and the captain sitting in the helicopter. Making the trees sway and swing, the helicopter begins its journey towards the base, making its way out in the dark. The clock glowing in the cockpit is giving a warning about it being fifteen minutes past the stipulated timeline

Date : 28 January 2017                                                                                                                                Place: Aviation base cantonment situated somewhere in central Kashmir valley.

Its seven in the morning. The injured lance-naik is breathing safely in the ICU for the past twelve hours under the care of capable doctors. The major is sound asleep. His mobile set rings.Drowsy and lazy he stares with a mumble at the mobile screen,... which is flashing the number of his friend - the major. He takes the call, somewhat half-heartedly...                                                                                                                            Major : "Haan...bol !" - yes...shoot !
Friend Major : "Kaisa hai tu?" - how are you ?
Major : "Thanks kehne ke liye phone kiya hai toone ? - have you called to say thanks ?
Friend Major : Nahin...!" - no !
Major: "Phir ?' - Why then ?
Friend Major : "I love you fly-boy !"
Major : "Chal-chal...!" - buzz off !
And loud guffaws ring out in unison at both ends of the mobile-set.
PS :--                                                                                                                                                          Indian army is proud of its aviation wing. These dare devil pilots have saved and are saving daily the lives of any number of soldiers - putting so many times their own lives at risk...setting an example... many a time in violation of the rules and regulations laid down in this respect.Noone knows the stories of their bravery. Thank you O Chetak, Cheeta and Dhruv... and the team of valiant officers who fly them... !!!                     
(May 2017)