Get a photo clicked with the lucky couple, so that they give each other puzzled looks while flipping through their wedding album.
Dark days they were- 1st Semester Exams! The very thought of the dreaded subject “Manufacturing Processes” sends a chill down my spine. It is a subject which requires relentless amount of cramming, thus making the choice to not waste time studying for this exam, the only sensible option. Amidst our growling stomachs, someone came up with the brilliant plan (as hostellers usually do) of gate crashing the wedding, across the college.
The eight expendables were perfect for the covert operation – Utsav, Sumeet, Shivek, Shan, Vipul, Sid, Addy and I. We, the BH4 squadron mercenaries, with no fear of our parents disowning us, were airborne, with one intent – NO BLACK HAWK DOWN-BEHIND ENEMY LINES. Stealth was the key to this mission.
With Yo Yo Honey Singh songs jarring our ears, it was easy for us to navigate our way to “Rohit Party Palace”. We decided to enter in pairs through the front gate, with brazen confidence. On our way in, we noticed a board at the entry-”Tanu Weds XYZ”. This was a valuable piece of information just in case our identity was compromised. After clearing the border posts, we were now in enemy territory. Seeing the array of dishes, we broke our formation. We hastily picked up our plates, and quickly started piling up. I reckon that was our first give away, as the only ones in the dinner queue were the aged family veterans. While serving myself Butter Paneer, I could see from the corner of my eye, two bold and bald middle aged guys signaling to one another. I realized that trouble was lurking around the corner, but I was too scared to communicate with my team, fearing enemy interception. We had obviously popped up on their radar.
I suppressed my fears and sat in the row of chairs near the stage with some kids. While gobbling down the food, I would nod in consent, pretending to be engaged in a serious discussion with them (the all too familiar art of deception).
Suddenly out of the blue, the baraat arrived. It all became clear now, why the rest of the people had restrained their pangs of hunger all this while. I made my way to the desserts, but stopped, amazed to see the rest of my troop occupying the round centre table and clicking selfies! I implored them to be cautious, but they seemed oblivious to any suggestion amid the fun. Clearly, the pilots had gone rogue. In the face of consternation, I decided to help myself to some kesar kulfi. I sauntered around looking for a dark corner, when my eyes fell on Utsav. A gentleman in his late sixties had his arm around Utsav’s shoulder. Normally, the sight would have seemed avuncular, but for the uncle’s sardonic laughs. Time dilated as I tossed aside my kesar kulfi, and looked towards the round table to check on the other pilots. They had vanished! Even before it dawned upon me, we were now engaged in a dogfight. Sumeet and Shivek were surrounded by hefty men. Amidst the distress mayday calls, I paved my way dodging enemy flak, to the entrance gate just in time to see Sid and Shan, kamikazeeing a chain of security men (It almost seemed like a live pro-Kabbadi match). We had raised a hullabaloo. I spotted a way out, through the gap between the tents. I was about to leap across the flower pot blocking it when a hand clutched my collar from behind. Instinctively, I used my close range weapon, raising my pinki finger. He let go off me. With gymnastic dexterity I bolted across the parking lot, and the road, adroitly dodging the speeding traffic. Panting I reached the hostel. Addy and Vipul had also made it back to base.
The atmosphere was pensive. On one hand, weddings are auspicious so we expected the enemy to release our comrades, without any filmy melodrama. On the other hand, being a low budget wedding, the POWs (prisoners of war) could face brutality and torture, somewhere off the battlefield.
Time elapsed and the POWs –Sumeet, Shan, Sid and Shivek returned with bruises of moral counseling.The wait continued…..
Then emerged Utsav flinging his dogtag (read Hostel Id card) at Pandeyji. Seeing our inquisitive faces, Utsav gave out a detailed account of his conversation with the “Uncle”:
Uncle (Switching to missile fire): Beta, from which side are you?
Utsav (Deploying flares): Tanu Didi.
Uncle (Locking target): You work in her office?
Utsav (Roll out): No, I am her neighbor.
Uncle (In the crosshair, missile fired): Oh,Where do you live?
Utsav (I’m Hit. Eject): Ummm, Delhi….
It turned out that the uncle was “General Tanu ke Papa”, an ace fighter pilot.
The mission wasn’t a complete failure. An upset tummy and a 42/100 in Manufacturing Processes were decent takeaways.
P.S: Rather embarrassing, but the same wedding was heavily bombed by our seniors’ BH-2 squadron later (Experience counts ).