A True Life Story.

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A True Life Story - Almost Missed My Own Marriage

The date was 30. I was very sure that I am going to miss my own marriage planned tomorrow. I will never be able to make it to my home on time tomorrow for attending my own marriage from Port Blair unless a miracle happens. This True Life Story happened in the early nineties and fairly early in my life although I was 28 years old at that time.

My marriage was to happen the next morning at 10:00 am in Kerala. This true life story had happened in Jan 1994 when I was posted to a helicopter flying unit in Port Blair in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands of India.

About to Miss My Own Marriage - A True Life Story

There were less than 24 hours to go for my marriage ceremony in the Church at my home town and I am still stuck in the Capital town called Port Blair, in the Andaman And Nicobar Islands of India, situated in the Bay of Bengal Ocean with no way of reaching my home town about 2000 kilometers away.

To reach home I have to first cross the ocean to main land India which is around 1200 kilometers. Then take a train of over 800 kilometers to reach the nearest railway station to my home. Then take a bus to travel about 26 kilometers and walk the last kilometer sweating like a pig to reach home.

I was ready to walk the entire 2000 kilometers if I had the necessary time. I did not know what to do. I did could not manage a flight ticket as the airlines had over 500 in the waiting list for the two weekly flights.

Two flight to Chennai which is a city in Tamil Nadu state and just 800 km closer to my home and two to Kolkata which will add another 2000 kilometers distance to my home as it is in the state of West Bengal. I was even ready to go to Kolkata if I could a confirmed flight ticket.

I Was Engaged To Be Married - A True Life Story

This true life story had started sometime in Dec 1993 when I had visited the house of the girl who was to be my wife, to see her. I liked her and there was no time wasted. I was engaged a day after Christmas as I had to go back in a couple of days back to Port Blair where my unit was. The engagement ceremony was held in her home town. And it was decided that the marriage will be in my home town a hundred kilometers north of her home.

The true life story begins when my father sent me a few invitation cards at my request to my unit. I went to a few important people and friends and gave them. One of the dignitaries I gave my marriage invitation card and took blessings was the Admiral who is the boss of the entire Island.

I had put up my leave application for 60 days which is the maximum leave I am entitled for the full year. But when I went to check up if my leave has been approved, I saw a chit attached to it which said, “Tell the individual to put a return flight ticket for self and wife back to Port Blair.

Hurdle To Missing My Own Marriage - A true Life Story

I also noticed that the numeral zero of the leave duration 60 has also been cut off. I asked my senior, who confirmed that the Commanding Officer has said that I have to return back to Port Blair within six days of my proceeding on leave because there is a severe shortage of pilots.

I did not know what to do. There are only two flights going from Port Blair to the main land which I can take in a week. There is also an Air Force plane which goes once a week to Chennai airport in mainland India. I did not have much say.

I went and booked two tickets for coming back with my wife from Chennai to Port Blair which were confirmed. But my ticket to Chennai was waiting list 541. I knew, I could never board that flight. So went and got my name included into the passenger manifest of the Air Force aircraft where the chance of getting a seat was bleak as mostly it was meant for Air Force people and senior Naval Officers.

The way this true life story was developing was giving me shudders, because the chances of getting into a flight were bleak and I was likely to miss attending my own marriage planned two days later on a Sunday.

My Leave Application For Marriage Turned Down - A True Life Story

The moment my leave application along with return flight ticket for my wife and I reached my Commanding Officer, he called for me. When I went to him he said, “Mats tell your father to change your marriage date because you cannot be spared now”. I did not know how to react to his statement. I sat looking at him blank.

Those days there were no mobiles or even a land line anywhere near my father’s house. The only mode of communication was an Inland Letter through the Post and Telegraph Office. A letter written and posted today will reach my father after ten to twelve days.

And when he posts a reply it also takes around 12 days to reach me as these letters have to come by bus to the nearest railway station to my home town, from where it is put on a train to Chennai from where the letter is put either on a ship which goes once or twice a month to Port Blair and takes three days to reach Port Blair.

If the ship is not there in the next ten days, then the letter travels by flight from Chennai to Port Blair. How was I to inform my father that my Commanding Officer is not able to spare me for my own marriage and that my marriage which was planned months back has to be postponed indefinitely.

My Marriage Leave Application Finally Approved - A True Life Story

Suddenly, I remembered my meeting with the Admiral. I answered my Commanding Officer, “Sir, it is not possible to change the marriage date because there is no way I can inform my father because my marriage is to happen the day after, all planning has been done at my home and how do I tell my father to inform the girl’s parents living a hundred kilometers away because both houses do not have any phones at home or nearby. And I have also invited the Admiral and sought his blessings for getting married”. I kept quite after that waiting for his answer.

My Commanding Officer also went silent for a while. I further said, “Sir as you had written on my leave application form, I have cut off 56 days from my 60 days leave to just six days and I have also attached two flight tickets from Chennai to Port Blair for myself and my would be wife.”

He looked at me and genuinely my sorrowful face for a while. He did not say anything further and approved my leave. One hurdle of this true life story was overcome. I had one more hurdle to cross which I knew for sure existed.

How was I going to cross 1000 kilometers over the Bay of Bengal Ocean? I had a flight ticket where I am the passenger waiting list number 541 and my name was missing in the passenger manifest of the Air Force aircraft, both leaving tomorrow to Chennai. The next civil flight is three days later and Air Force aircraft is only next week. What am I going to do to attend my own marriage?

Missing My Own Marriage Was Inevitable - A True Life Story

Am I really not going to make it to my marriage? That night I could hardly sleep. If I cannot leave Port Blair by morning tomorrow, then I am going to miss my own marriage. Is this true life story or fiction?

An hour past midnight, I remembered that I have not packed my stuff to go. I had got a three piece suite stitched for myself a week back. I did not even remember that it is still hanging on the cloth hanger. Where was the brand new Woodlands brown colored leather Shoes I had bought two days back spending half my monthly salary?

I finished packing and lay back on bed, but I could not sleep. I got up from my bed by about 4:00 am and got ready to go home for getting married which on that morning felt like impossible to happen.

I Missed Flight To My Marriage - A True Life Story

I went to the airport with my small bag and a wooden walking stick which I had bought for my old father. I tried my best to get my flight ticket confirmed. I was only to travel a thousand kilometers. But there were too many tourists standing in line who were also wait listed and who wanted to go to the other side of the earth. Fortunately for them, no one was going to get married the next day.

I went to the airport authorities and tried to convince them. But how will they know what it is to be stuck in Port Blair with no way to go home. Unless someone goes through what I was going through, they won’t know what it is like. I did not blame anyone. I walked off to my unit a kilometer away.

My Name Missing in Air Force Aircraft Too - A True Life Story

The Air Force aircraft was an old Avro which actually comes to Port Blair and other islands with provisions. On its way back it carries people who were manifested by the Air Force authorities. I searched for name in the passenger manifest list on the notice board. My name was missing.

That was my last hope of going home to get married. I stood there frozen, with a blank mind. No one other than God could help me. Or a miracle has to happen now, for me to be transported or time travel to my home town by some means.

My sleep deprived brain was not working properly with these events confusing me further. As I stood there looking at the notice board, with my bag in one hand and the walking stick in the other hand, I heard the propeller sound of the Avro which landed behind me. I turned and was the Avro aircraft touch down on the runway.

The sound of the aircraft did not excite me to see this aircraft as it usually does, being a pilot myself, because I am not going to be on it today on its way to Chennai over the sea. I continued to stand motionless for a long time till the Avro came and switched off in front on the tarmac. I saw people whose name perhaps was there in the list.

I Can't Be Missing My Own Marriage - A True Life Story

I mutely stood there with my small bag in my hand and watched them go and climb the stairs into the aircraft. After everyone had climbed into the aircraft, I saw one pilot come down the stair and walk straight towards where I was standing. He seemed to be looking at me. A ray of hope lit up in my mind.

But the pilot, a Wing Commander by rank, went past me without even noticing my presence there. As he passed by me, my head and body automatically turned in his direction. I saw him disappear into the toilet.

I continued to look in that direction and I do not know why. Probably this was my last hope of flying to mainland India. After a few minutes the pilot came out and walked past me towards his aircraft the way he had walked towards the toilet, this time too without noticing me.

I stood motionless looking at my last hope of being married going away from me. That is when a sort of miracle happened. The pilot turned back and walked back towards me with a smile on his face. Did he read my mind? Is he going to take me home? My heart started racing.

A Walking Stick Saves My Marriage - A True Life Story

He came and touched the walking stick in my hand and asked. “Lovely walking stick. Where did you buy it? How much does it cost?” My heart sank again. I told him without any excitement, “Sir I bought it for my father. That is all the present he wanted me to bring him on my marriage tomorrow. But it looks like I can’t make it to my own marriage. You can have the walking stick. It is worthless to me now.”

The pilot exclaimed, “What, it is your marriage tomorrow? Congratulations to you young man. You will be presenting this beautiful walking stick to your father tomorrow and getting married too.” I meekly said, “Sir, my name is not there in the passenger manifest of your aircraft on this notice board.”

The pilot said, “Forget the manifest. Come with me”. He took the walking stick from me and used it to walk till the aircraft. He handed over the walking stick to me and said, “When you get back after marriage, do buy and keep a walking stick like that for me. I will take it from you on one of the trips next month.” He allowed me to board his aircraft before him.

I Was Going To Be Married Tomorrow - A True Life Story

The airman at the door asked me my name and started looking into the manifest. The pilot told him, “He is my friend.” The airman smiled and gave me a good seat in the forward end of the aircraft. Miracles do happen after all. I was going to be married finally tomorrow morning.

I thought this true life story was ending. With this flight, my life story was just beginning. The aircraft landed at an Air Force base in Tambaram. The pilot who let me board came and shook hands with me once again and departed. He told me to stay in the aircraft because the next set of crew is flying back to Coimbatore which is just half the distance to my home.

I was very happy to hear that. Because I can reduce my train journey by half and even board a bus which will take me home from Coimbatore in just four hours. That means I can reach home tonight itself. I was now the happiest man on earth.

My father had a lot of faith in me that I will make it in time for my marriage. He has served in the Army and knows what defense life is all about. He knows the hardship in getting leave in the services. So I was not worried about my parents and relatives.

But I was very worried about the girl’s parents. How would they have reacted if I were not to reach in time for my marriage? All that is history now. I am going to be a day earlier home than I thought I would reach. I waited for the next set of pilots to board and fly the Avro aircraft.

My Marriage Was Just A Dream - A True Life Story

An hour passed and there was no pilot who came to the aircraft. There were some airmen who were cleaning up the aircraft and servicing the aircraft for the next flight. I waited for another hour. Time now was around 4:00 pm. But no pilot appeared.

I got out of the aircraft which was now very hot in the sun. I walked towards the aircraft hangars a few hundred meters away with my bag and stick. I thought it better to go and board a train before it is too late. That is when I saw a pilot’s crew room board hanging outside one of the rooms there.

I went inside and found a few pilots sleeping. I thought I will wait and sat on a sofa. A civilian bearer came in and offered me some tea. I sipped my tea and was lost in confusing thoughts as to whether I should stay and take the flight to Coimbatore or take train directly to my hometown. Both will take the same time if I decide now.

That is when one of the pilot woke up and saw me. He asked, “You are the guy getting married tomorrow?” I said, “Yes Sir”. The sleepy pilot, a Squadron Leader by rank said, “OK, just relax, we will take off in some time.” And he started sleeping again.

I was now confused again. But I thought it is still better to stay and take a free flight to Coimbatore than sitting in an unreserved train compartment for ten hours, all the way home. I did not know that, it was one of the most foolish decisions I have ever made in my life.

The Pilot Flew Aircraft Away From My Marriage - A True Life Story

The time was 6:00 pm. The two pilots woke up washed their face and went for flight briefing. They told me to go and sit in the aircraft. By the time they came and started the aircraft time was already past 7:30 pm.

I had not slept yesterday, I have not had breakfast or lunch today and now I am without dinner sitting inside the aircraft. I was still content that I am finally going to be home late in the night. I can fight hunger for a good reason.

The engines were started and the aircraft was rolling down the runway for takeoff. I sat in the aircraft lost in sweet thoughts about my marriage. I looked out of the aircraft window and saw the moon rise. It was almost full moon rising on the right side of the aircraft which means we are heading north. I panicked. I am a pilot myself.

I unstrapped from my seat and ran to the pilots in the front and looked at the aircraft compass. The aircraft was indeed flying northwards. I stood there for a while thinking that they may turn. An hour went past and the aircraft was still travelling northwards.

Finally, not being able to understand what was happening, I asked the pilot shouting over the engine noise, “Sir my home is in Kerala in the west, why are you going north?” I got a reply which surprised me. The pilot shouted back, “We have to do a few night landing practice at Vishakhapatnam air field and after that we will take you home.

I Was Not 12 Hours But 24 Hours Away From My Own Marriage - A True Life Story

They finished their night landings and then went into the airport dispersal for refueling. They switched off the aircraft. My heart sank again. Now there is no way I can get home from the double the distance. A train will take over 24 hours to reach my home from Vishakhapatnam.

I was surely going to miss my own marriage if this aircraft engines don’t startup after refueling and servicing is done. I kept thinking how come I am going from sad to happy and happy to sad state so frequently in just one day which is the day prior to my own marriage when I should have been only happy throughout the day.

If I do not make it to my own marriage, what happens to the girl and her family? Will they pardon me and my parents and relatives? Will they let me marry her later on? Or is my marriage off forever? I had so many questions I could not find answers putting their head up inside me and putting my head down in shame.

At 10:00 pm the Avro aircraft started up again and we were taxying to the runway. I was not very sure now if I can make it home in time for my marriage. But there was nothing for me to do now except leave everything to fate and God to fix.

The aircraft was airborne from the runway. But I did not want to know where the aircraft was heading. It does not matter now. I am doomed. The aircraft will not reach the Coimbatore airfield before midnight in any case.

I Tried Hard Not To Miss My Own Marriage - A True Life Story

We landed at Coimbatore past 2:00 am. The airfield is far away from the nearest bus station and the railway station. Past 2:00 am there won’t be any bus to take on the roads. I was the lone passenger in the Avro aircraft. So there was no vehicle arranged for me there.

I got down from the aircraft with my bag and my walking stick and was walking towards the main gate of the Air Force station. It took me about 25 minutes to reach there. I asked the men guarding the gate if there is a bus which stops near that gate to go to the bus or railway station?

The old guard asked me what the hurry was to take a bus immediately and why I cannot wait till day break. I said, “It is my marriage in seven hours from now at a place about 200 kilometers away from there.

The old man seemed to be more understanding than I expected. He stopped a van transporting troops to the check post and said something to the driver. The driver came running and picked up my bag and ran towards the van. I ran behind him to get my bag back from him.

He threw my bag into the van and told me to get in. I was surprised to see the speed at which he was driving that small van as if it was an ambulance carrying a patient about to die. In about 20 minutes I was in a bus station. He seemed to be happier than me to see me board a bus going to my home town. As the bus at 3 am to my hometown started moving, I saw the smiling face of the driver waving to me and saluting me. I saluted him back with full respect standing up inside the bus.

Finally I Attended My Own Marriage - A True Life Story

I had to change two more bus and finally reached two hours before my marriage ceremony was to start in a small place called Kunnamkulam in the district of Trichur, in the State of Kerala, India. I had enough time to present the walking stick to my father. I had enough time to get my three piece suite pressed and my new shoes polished and shining. I still had spare time to get a refreshing bath.

I finally made it just in time to attend my own marriage. I do not know who all should I be thanking for that moment and who all should I be cursing for all the moments before that. Three decades later, my father still uses that same walking stick I presented him and I still live with the same girl I married that day.

And the best part is that we are happily married ever since that day. We have grown old. But I have never forgotten the episode. Unfortunately, no one believes this true life story. Believe it or not, this true life story actually happened.

Years later, one day I asked my wife, "Were you not worried that I have not reached till 8:00 am just two hours to go for our marriage?" The reply was, "You were unreliable since that time. We had plans to go back if you were not to be home in next 30 minutes." I was relaxed. I still had a full thirty minutes in hand. I was unnecessarily under tension of missing my own marriage.

A True Life Story

  

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