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Earliest Memories - Part 13 - Slow and Sudden Impacts of War

Viewed 381 times 2015-1-1 13:02 |Personal category:StoryTeller|System category:Life| Slow, and, Sudden, Impacts, War

Slow And Sudden Impacts of War

The war was starting to affect everyone a bit. Shopping hours and places were limited. There were curfews imposed on many streets during days and nights. Many were out of work and many businesses struggled or started to shut down. Many poor struggled to have as many meals or as much food as they would normally have. People did not bathe everyday – shopping for supplies was getting difficult.

 Everyone accepted everyone else looking a bit unkempt, smelly and grimy. These were the slow and gradual impacts.

The sudden impact came about a few days after the previous night bombing raid, when the little boy’s father was away at work, there was a sudden blaring of sirens in the mid-afternoon. Everyone dropped what they were doing and ran for the trenches. The little boy’s mother was by now finding it very difficult to move, her pregnancy was showing large and clear. She barely hobbled into the trench, without falling over. A few grown-ups helped her and the kids.

It was a clear, bright daylight. The start of the anti-aircraft batteries in the distance was sudden and fierce. There were many jets roaring into the skies. They seemed to come from all directions. One could not tell for a while, what was happening, but it seemed to be happening right over them.

 He remembered:  The mother lay on her back and looked up. She held the children tight and prayed calmly. The children, while frightened and shaking hearing the menacing roar of the jets, lay face down. But with jet criss-crossing often and hearing gunfire from close by, they too could not resist sneaking a few glances upwards.  They could clearly see gunfire between jet fighter planes. The guns mounted on the wings  of some sputtered and rounds were even headed in all directions, some even downwards.  They saw a streaking ball of fire and smoke going across low overhead from one end of their street, over them and towards the south-east of them. Shortly there was a suddenly heard a huge thunderous crash somewhere nearby. Obviously something had crashed. Soon fire trucks and ambulances raced down the road and side streets. There was a big clamour as if many people were running. Many yells were heard – “He’s coming down!! Get him! GET HIM!! Come on, let’s go get him!”

Some seemed to recognise their voices of those who were shouting   one was certainly Harpreet’s supervisor. A couple of young men from the trench clambered up over the trench without a second thought and ran towards a house block two streets away.

There was a lot of commotion, then police and army vans streaked across the street and  after a good half an hour, suddenly the All-Clear sounded.

Everyone headed back to their homes. The mother had a difficult time getting back up over the trench. Someone put a heavy box and some bricks near the edge to make a couple of steps for her. Others helped her up and came for the children. But both wanted to climb out themselves. The little boy enjoyed climbing out just like the others. It would get his clothes all messy, but he wanted to do it. His mother tiredly smiled and let him. He came out feeling brave and grown up a bit.

When they reached their house, there was a lot of talk of something about Munni and Harpreet in awed and hushed tones.  Munni came home later accompanied by many friends and family and quickly taken to her room. She seemed to have been through something dramatic.

 That night when the father came back home, he already knew what had happened. It was part of the news on the radio that everyone had heard about. The big news was that a Pakistani jet fighter had been shot down and had crashed about a kilometre away into houses in a street. The pilot had ejected and landed nearby, close to Harpreet’s house, in the middle atrium of an old fashioned housing block.  He had had been captured and taken away. He was the one seen coming down in a parachute. That had been the reasons behind what they had heard and seen.

Harpreet and his group had been involved in the capture  of this pilot and somehow Munni too! Apparently Harpreet was injured and lucky to be alive and Munni had done something brave and dangerous. She too was injured.

It was much later that the boy came to know exactly what had happened that day when Harpreet and Munni became legends in their own right.

To Be Continued..

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


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