My friendship with Dax goes a long way back. In fact, one could say we were born on the same day! In a manner of speaking, Dax was my alter ego. One evening, overcome by nostalgia triggered by an overdose of drinks at the bar, Dax began blabbering a sweet episode in his life to me. With his permission, I began to jot down what he said to me. I reproduce his story as narrated to me.
Dax was a young energetic fighter pilot. A happy-go-lucky guy, he lived for today going by the self-imposed mantra of “Who knows what will happen tomorrow”! He would fly the little fighter during the day, and in the evenings would either go to the bar for a few shots of whisky or round up a few fellow pilots and “bounce” some married guy’s home for a few drinks and delicious home cooked food. He always took care to carry the raw material with him……a bottle of whisky or rum and some eggs or chicken or tinned food. The guy would be happy to have some company at home and the wife would love to cook for the bachelor boys! This was a routine followed almost every day.
One evening there was a squadron function in the Officers’ Mess. A few guests from the nearby Tea-gardens were also invited. Dax was asked to look after an ex Air Force pilot who now flew for a tea company. Introducing himself, Dax extended his hand for a shake. The tall bespectacled gentleman grunted a greeting and shook his hand. The handshake was firm belying his relatively advanced age. His wife was a diminutive lady, graceful in her greeting. Dax soon found that the ex pilot and he had something in common. Both drank whisky and loved to down a few pegs! While they were having their third peg, a young lady dressed in a flowing full skirt came and stood next to them. “Dad, could I have a drink too?” she asked in a sweet voice. The ex pilot looked at her and said, “Meet Dax. He is a fighter pilot.” Dax smiled and wished her. “She is my daughter Rani. Would you be kind enough to get her a drink? She too prefers whisky.” Dax turned around and spotted a waiter carrying a tray of drinks. Before Dax could ask if she preferred her drink with soda or water, Rani informed him that she would like it on the rocks. Spotting the Station Commander, the ex pilot excused himself leaving the two youngsters to themselves.
Dax was the cynosure of all eyes in the ante-room. The only single girl in the room was chatting him up while the die-hard fighter pilots were green with envy. Every now and then someone would saunter by, brush against Dax murmuring, “You lucky dog!” Sensing something, Rani asked Dax if they could step outside the room. Eager to get away from the peering eyes of his friends, Dax guided her out in to the open. They stepped on to the lawn. “It’s so beautiful here. The room is so crowded. I find these old fogies very boring,” Rani said almost in a whisper. Dax could not believe that he, who always avoided company of females, was here escorting a young lady! As they walked around a little, Rani abruptly said, “It would be such a shame to waste this beautiful starry night. I wish I could go for a ride somewhere.” Caught unawares, Dax blurted, “Would you like to go for a ride down the runway on my mobike?” Rani was ecstatic. “Yesssss. I would love to.”
Dax quickly went up to his room and was soon back with his motor-cycle. Rani sat pillion and they were off towards the runway. Whether it was the whisky or Rani’s proximity to him, Dax threw caution to the winds and sped down the runway at almost 100 kmph. Rani gripped him tightly as she squealed in happiness. At the end of the runway Dax slowed down and turned towards the Operational Readiness Platform. Getting off the bike, Dax held her hand and guided her towards a pair of Ouragan aircraft parked at one end as decoys. Helping her to climb atop the wing he jumped up to sit next to her. Dax was on Cloud 9! He had never been so close to any woman except his mother. His heart was beating like Sivamani pounding away on his drums! Rani, looking up at the clear sky, exclaimed “What a clear sky with so many stars!” Pointing up, Dax said, “Do you see that constellation up there? That is the Orion. Three stars in a line and two diametrically opposite equidistant from the centre star.” Unable to spot, she inched closer and asked Dax to point it to her. Pointing at Orion, he said, “There almost directly overhead is the Orion.” He could feel her heavy breath on his cheek. His heart was beating so hard that he feared it would pop out of his body!
He did not realize when Rani had put her arm around his neck. Not knowing what to do, Dax desperately tried to scan the sky for any other constellation. Nervously he said, “Let me see if I can spot Ursa Major.” With a sly smile Rani whispered, “Forget the Major and the Minor” and turned his face towards her and gently kissed him on the lips.
And……… Dax experienced a smooth transition from a “minor” to a “major”!