What If?

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Nov 2, 1942, 2:37 PM

"It was an unusually calm afternoon. We were not used to this calmness. Our day usually starts either with a troubling resonance from a blast close by or with a news that a friend had fallen on the battlefield. With World War 2 at its prime, life has become very gloomy!

Today it is different though. We haven't heard a blast or the news. We are on our CAP (Combat Air Patrol) duty, flying at approximately 6,200 feet above sea level; with 'Moonlight Cocktail', a song by Glenn Miller, being played on my friend's tape. I wish if this is how our life is. Calm. Serene. Music. Friends. But I doubt it would be that simple, with two powerful forces, or to be precise two powerful forces led by two power obsessed Men, going against each other. But a hope for a better tomorrow is what is keeping us alive and fight for our Country. We follow the orders because we believe in our leader. We believe in his promise for a better tomorrow. We believe that our Country's future will be bright and that our family will be a part of it.

After about an hour of flight, I handed over the flight control to my Co-Pilot and walked to the rear to relax for a few minutes. It was a tiring week with training and getting over with the news of the loss of my friends on the battlefield. We know our time will come soon too. We are not afraid of it. We are trained to be determined to die on the field. But what worries us is, 'When and How?'

With these thoughts in mind, I slowly drifted off to a nap. About some 20 minutes later, I felt some turbulence on my Jet and I woke up. I opened the window flap on my side and we see a Fighter jet flying close to us. It didn't have any engravings on it, but it didn't seem like it was one of ours too.

Before I could say anything, my Pilot was already lowering our Jet. We came close to 4,500 feet in altitude when we have observed the Fighter jet to still be on our tail. It isn't something that happens very often on a CAP duty because we have zones and no one flies in others zones unless it is an emergency or it is our Enemy. Before the thought that it could be our enemy, creep in... We saw the missile flaps drop open and a 'Missile' come out of it. They have locked on us. It is an unexpected turn of events and we are speechless. My Pilot is doing all he can, with a hope to escape the fate. He alerted our base. He is calling out for some help in some way possible. But it is too late, I presume. The enemy Jet has fired the Missile.

'A few seconds' is all it took, for our lives to return to the reality of war, from the unlikely dream of a life at peace and away from war. I see the flaming hot missile rush towards us. My Pilot and Co-Pilot are shouting something, but I am ready to embrace the impact. I just have one thought in my mind - 'Mother'. I wish I could tell her, how much I love her. I wish.."

That's when I woke up... gasping and panting and trying to get my hands on my phone. It was just a dream. Yeah, I am no soldier at War. I am no Pilot at CAP. I am me and it was just a dream. But then... a question came to my mind. 'What if?'

"What if, this was seriously happening at someone at some other part of the world, like Iraq or Syria?"
"What if, this was how it was during WW1 and WW2 and it is how it will be if WW3 comes up?"
"What if, a few parents are still waiting for their kids to come back home?"

We always read news articles about Soldiers falling for their Countries, at War. We sometimes ignore, sometimes feel bad, sometimes respect them and sometimes understand their loss and become emotional too. But we never experience it by being in their shoes, to understand what it is to see your death embrace you. We never stand in the shoes of a Parent who lost her Child, a Wife who lost her Husband, a Kid who lost his Parent or a Sibling who lost their Best friend.

But in my dream... I was in their Shoes. That second is beyond words. The fear. The helplessness. The despair. It is way beyond one's own imagination. I felt it, to understand it. And... I'm just glad I have 'this' life.

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Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India
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