A Brave and Fearless Pilot in War
Maira had completed her 12th class exams and her father wanted her to be a Chartered Accountant like him, and appear for entrance exams. But her heart lay somewhere else. Since the time she had seen advertisements on the television for joining the Indian air force, she wanted to become a pilot and serve her country.
Every time her father used to pressurize her for C.A. exams, she would find some excuse or the other to avoid appearing for the exams. It was her mother who often stood by her and was supportive of her wishes.
Finally, her father gave in and she began preparing for the National Defense Academy exams and soon cleared the exams. She was sent to N.D.A for three years’ training and subsequent to this was sent for flying training at an air force training establishment.
On completion of training, she was posted as a pilot at one of the air force station. She was very happy and excited about her career as her dream had been fulfilled. Taking to the skies used to give her a new high. Since she was well settled, her parents began pressurizing her to get married. But she used to change the topic and wanted to enjoy her life; without any responsibilities and pressures.
Finally, after three years of joining the air force, she agreed to get married. It was getting difficult to get a groom, due to the transferable nature of her job.
Maira joined a dating site and soon met her love match. The boy was an engineer and after dating for six months they decided to get married. Everything in her life was turning out well; she was enjoying every moment and now preparing for the next phase of her life.
They had decided to get married in a month’s time.
But life is never so easy. Soon a dispute broke out with a neighboring country over a piece of land that both the countries were claiming to be theirs. The soldiers of the neighboring country came and forcibly occupied the land. This resulted in an uproar, and the government had to take action to drive away the army of the neighboring country. The fights escalated from both sides and battle tanks were brought into action.
Only a week was remaining for the wedding of Maira. Sensing the situation, she met her commanding officer and voluntarily agreed to the cancellation of her marriage leave, and rang Raj her fiance;
“I think we should postpone our wedding for some time till the war is over. I have a duty towards our motherland.”
Raj was finding it difficult to speak, with words failing to come to his mouth “I know, standing for the country is more important at the moment. But don’t worry, it will all become fine soon, and we will get married. Do your best for the country.”
Maira felt encouraged by his support and replied, “I will do my best.”
In his heart, Raj was afraid of the consequences and did not want to think of what the worst outcome might be. He left everything to the hands of God.
After the fight with tanks was in full swing, the turn came for the use of planes. Maira was proficient in the use of MiG aircraft and the Rafale’s. The enemy was now bombarding the cities; and the towns near the border were completely destroyed by continuous bombardment. People came out in support of every move of the government, as it was now a question of standing for the honor of their motherland.
The air force soon made a decision to carry out strategic and tactical bombing missions of the enemy territory as well as provide support to the army. Maira was now in one of the aircraft and was carrying out bombing inside the enemy territory.
Soon her companion aircraft were shot down by missiles and her own plane was challenged to a dogfight. She was able to destroy two of the enemy planes before her plane was hit by a missile. Sensing no way to fight further as her plane was diving towards the ground, she used a parachute and jumped out.
In fifteen minutes she was on the ground and surrounded by the enemy. She tried to fight but was soon captured and taken as a prisoner of war. They tied her hands and took her to a camp and placed her with the other captured prisoners.
The news of her plane being shot down had reached her parents. Her father was worried and appeared angry “I wanted Maira to become C.A. It was you who supported her and now see the result.I don’t know in what condition my little princess would be in.” saying this he had tears in his eyes.
Her mother too was shocked at the news and replied “Instead of fighting let us pray to god that she is safe.” She headed for the prayer room and was deeply engrossed in her prayers.
Maira was in the enemy camp. The enemy officers were trying to extract all the information from her, as to what the motive was for the attack and also the secrets of their air force. Maira was pretending to be cooperating with them but was making them go in circles, due to which they were not able to extract any meaningful information.
This made them frustrated and they began threatening and mentally torturing her. But still Maira proved to be a tough nut to crack.
Maira was in her cell with two more prisoners. They made a plan to escape from the prison. Soon they collected some tools and in turns began digging hole from one side of the cell.
The prisoners from the next cell too began digging hole. They used to dig hole by turns, and had kept a pillow on the bed so that guards would not be able to find out if anyone was missing and suspicion would not be raised. In a week they had dug hole far enough, beneath the ground that they could escape out of the prison.
Maira had been tortured enough for a week. She was barely able to walk; but now seeing an escape route she gathered enough energy and prisoners of both the cells escaped together. Soon the guards found the two cells empty and raised an alarm. A search was launched throughout the city and the police and army were put on high alert.
The prisoners soon reached a lodge and the attendant asked for their identity documents. Since they did not have any documents to show, they bribed him heavily. In the meanwhile they were making plans to escape to their country.
They were trying to get a vehicle which could take them to a distance of around 500 Kilometres to the border. But it was proving to be very difficult as they had to keep their identity a secret. All of them were in the lodge for a day and waiting for an appropriate moment to make the next move.
The owner of the lodge soon found out their identity and rang the police. In a short time the police and the army surrounded their lodge. All the men decided that they would fight till their last, but since Maira was a lady, they felt protective towards her and asked her to escape.
“Sister, you escape from here. We will fight with these rascals.”
“No, I will not leave you and try to save myself. I too will fight against them” Maira replied.
“Why don’t you agree to us? Just go to the military airbase which is 10 kilometres from here and try to escape.
Finally Maira agreed to their wishes and it was decided that two men would go with her,leaving the other three to fight the battle. They were indeed putting up a brave fight.
Maira left with a heavy heart with the two men and they reached the airbase in an hour. It was heavily guarded and they did not find any way to enter. They were now waiting for darkness to make their next move.
In a few hours it was complete dark. All three of them were ready to make their next move. As soon as they saw two people from the base coming out with guns they pounced on them, snatched their guns and took them to the nearby bushes and shot them. This was sufficient ammunition to fight for a short time, if needed.
They were now at the entrance of the airbase. All they knew was that they had to escape at any cost.
As soon as the security persons demanded their ID card they opened fire on the four guards standing at the entrance and instantly killed them. They then took one of the parked vehicles and headed towards the hanger. Hearing the gun shots the security at the airbase was alerted and soon began searching for the intruders.
They located the three intruders and challenged them. There was fighting all around and the men asked Maira to proceed towards one of the plane and keep it ready. They had taken positions and were continuously firing at the enemy.
Maira reached the cockpit and was ready to take the flight. She was waiting for the other persons, but saw that both her colleagues had been shot dead. Immediately taking charge of the situation, she started the plane and it was now in the air.
Four planes were now chasing her. In another twenty minutes she would be in the Indian territory. Suddenly she found that her plane had caught fire due to the continuous shooting by the chasing planes.
She took a parachute and jumped from the plane. There was a river flowing below and across the river was the Indian border.
When she opened her eyes she found herself at the army hospital. Signaling to a nurse to come near she asked,“Is this India?”
“Yes, you are in India” the nurse replied.
“How did I land in the hospital?” Maira asked.
“The army patrolling the border found you floating in the river.”
Maira remembered that she had fallen on the land bank and slid towards the river. After a while in the cold water, she had lost consciousness. It was her good luck that the patrolling party had seen her fall and one of the person jumped into the river to rescue her. But she was sad that all the other prisoners had been killed trying to escape. She was the only one who had survived. Taking out her mobile she dialed a number.
“Hello Raj, how are you?”
Raj was pleasantly surprised hearing her voice “Are you okay? Where are you now?”
“I am in India” Maira replied calmly. “We will marry as soon as the war is over” she said with a smile.
Raj looked at the sky and thanked god for his kindness.