pic courtesy freeimages.com
pic courtesy freeimages.com

“Scramble” “Scramble” the announcement from the speakers and these few young flying officers in their blue dungaree, with wings on their chest, helmets in the hand, rush out and before you can say the word “go” they are climbing up the ladder into the cockpit. With the first ray of the sunlight they are flying up in the air, touching the heights and the speed, playing hide and seek with each other, an hour later they land, walking back with smile on their faces, knowing this was one of the perfect saurtis. Even 30 years back this was the common exercise for the Pilots of the Indian Air Force (IAF), one of the handsome faces walking back was of my Father – Pilot of the IAF.

Today I was looking at him sitting in the hospital, gasping for breath, I could hear the wheezing from his lungs even four seats away….this is something that we have grown up seeing, his asthma attacks. After some years of flying he got his first attack, and then he was grounded.

He was lost in the battle of lungs and air, when this Airman came and wished him, he had no clue that someone was talking to him, looking totally blank into the air, fighting to get some breath in him….. 
I remember clearly, when I was young and use to pass the guardroom with him, the guard would give him a perfect salaam with the rifle and thud of the feet, and dad keeping his back erect would reply to him with a strong “Jai Hind” and I would be so proud of him, knowing that he was the best, today he was looking into the air unaware that someone was calling for him, in response we could only hear his wheezing, I gave the Airman a smile acknowledging on Dad’s behalf. 

He who at one time use to take his plane up in the sky not once but day after day for years, one who in the war of 1971 had been to the war struck areas, into the neighbouring country flying low to drop food for our army men, who was fearless of any danger that laid ahead. Today when we go out, he quietly opens the car door and sits next to the driver’s seat waiting for me to come and take the wheel.

Later I was next to his bed watching him draw oxygen from the oxygen mask on him, how different were the reasons for which the mask was on now and when he use to have it on, up in the air.

I can not explain what I feel when I see him struggling for breath each time, I cannot come to terms with the fact that he is the same person who was so independent and carefree, one I use to be scared of as a kid, now is emotionally dependent on us, his children. He is the same person who had temper on his nose tip now is patience personified. The man who did not care for the world was now living for his family. Man who ruled the sky once was now confined to the safely of the fresh air of his room. May be that is life.

I think it is time for us kids to realize that our parents have done enough for us , and we need to stand up and give them what they have given us, they want nothing much, all they ask for is – Love, patience, respect and most of all, Our Time. Lets start doing it now, before it is too late.

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