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Mission Impossible - Hawaii

Mission Impossible - Hawaii

118 mins 497 118 mins 497


Preface:-


This is a story that was narrated to my son, over thirty years ago, in the eighties, while he was a school kid in a school at Calcutta, in India. His school was for five days a week. Every week he had a class test in his school, just prior to the weekend commences. He was fairly serious in his study for this weekly examination, with a condition that it is necessary for me to narrate him a story that very evening. It was indeed my pleasure to agree to that. That means telling him a story once a week, which could last for several hours. Very often this activity of narrating a particular story to him lasted for several weeks at a stretch, narrating just once a week, in the evening hours at out home. In fact if we remember correctly, to tell this particular story, this continued for over fifteen to sixteen weeks at a stretch for an average of three to four hours each per week, of course just one day of such narrating in every week. Interestingly this entire activity of story telling to him from me was totally extempore and each & every such story like this was in fact fabricated out of my imagination too. 


This particular story is in fact was the second of the lot. The first one was relating to two truck drivers, who were on their way to Hazaribagh from Ranchi in India with a truck load of cargo. Their truck went out of order en-route on the main highway far away from the villages. Whilst one of them was repairing it, they were confronted to a hungry leopard, which suddenly appeared from the nearby forest. It was nearing evening and the story dealt with as to how they managed to survive such a situation, since they did not have any weapons at all with them. That is how it started. And from this story, my son always kept insisting me for telling such a story every week end to him.


All the characters & incidents are just fictitious & imaginary in this story, as they came out of my imagination just for the fun of telling a story to him and thus have no relationship with actual facts in the outer world. Thus in the event there is any incidence of similarity with any living person or actual incidents that are taking or took place in the actual life, please note that is purely & simply co-incidental and not at all intended for. In no way myself is responsible for such co-incidence.


P. K. Sarkar


December 21, 2019.

 


INTRODUCTION :-

 

 

This is an imaginary story as in the year 1971.

 

The story starts with U.S. Air Force’s prestigious aircraft Galaxy C-5 which is, presently in this story, flying at a high altitude with a high speed. At present it is cruising over the Pacific Ocean over a thousand miles away from coast of California. The aircraft is being sent in a specific mission to some destination in the Far Eastern country in Asia and having some secret ammunition within.

 

In one corner of the 16th row is sitting a morose looking young man of 25 years old, who comes from the city of New York, in the name of Mr. Mervin Dowzel. It is summer in the Northern Hemisphere with the calendar pointing as June 24 and the mission of this aircraft is just to reach some place in the Far East of strategic interest. The mission is absolutely secret and thus not at all disclosed to most of the passengers, excepting just a few very senior officials. The aircraft is absolutely full, with people from the U.S. Defense, comprising mainly of Army & the Air Force personnel together with some senior officials, also together with a lot of nurses for their Medical Team. It started its flight from a secret air base near Los Angeles in California in U.S.A.   

Now let us get back to the main story, as to what Mervin is at present engrossed with.

FAMILY BACKGROUND OF MERVIN DOWZEL :-

 

Mervin was just reminiscing his old incidents. He is originally from Wales, a country within the U.K. His father, Mr. William Dowzell, was a British Civil Servant. Mr. William Dowzel had spent several years of his life in the British Service. He is originally from Herefordshire in Wales. Joining the British Civil service was an ambitious aspiration in his life. He started his career with a modest posting in a remote corner in North East Wales, then he was transferred to Portsmouth in England and later to the capital of the country, i.e., in the city of London. He got married in London and soon after his marriage, he got an option for a posting in the-then British ruled India. In fact he & his wife, Martha gladly accepted this posting. It was as if an extended honeymoon for either of them. They had spent just over a decade of their lives in India.

 

William enjoyed his assignment thoroughly as a senior British Government official, while Martha equally enjoyed the privilege of being the wife of a top class ranking official in the British Raj in India. Presently he is just in the fifties. He came to U.S.A. in the year 1966 against a special mission, as per a requirement that arose out of a US-British agreement and then decided to stay in U.S.A. His application for U.S. resident-ship was immediately processed & accepted too by the Federal Government in the city of New York and his decision to stay in the U.S.A was eventually approved by the British Government too. He is presently a naturalized citizen of U.S.A. Of his three children, all of whom were born in India, Mervin is the youngest. The other two are Mervin’s sisters, all are married and live with their respective families in the U.K. The elder sister of Mervin’s lives in Yorkshire, near Redcar. The other one lives at Gateshead, just three km away from the famous city of New Castle in England. None of them presently are living at Wales, excepting maintaining their old parental house in the country of Herefordshire.

 

Mervin was born in the year 1944, just a few years prior to India acquired freedom. Then about a few years later, just a month prior to India’s acquiring freedom, he with his two sisters had to come back to the U.K., with their parents, like thousands of British people, who were residents of India until then. Mr. William Dowzel since then started working for the Government’s Civil Service as a senior official, having posting at various places, mostly in and around London, until he came over to U.S.A.

 

Mervin had his entire schooling in the U.K. He was an average school student. Comparatively his sisters were much better. They did their schooling chapters complete with flying colours. His elder sister, Trudy, completed her “A-level” very easily and eventually became a Doctor from the University of Bristol in South Western England. She had started working initially as a junior doctor at a place near Bristol, where she fell in love with a senior doctor and later got married to him. Now they are both working as Doctors in Redcar, in Yorkshire. She is working as a hospital doctor, where her husband is a G.P., i.e., he is working a private practitioner near Redcar. In fact they have bought property at Redcar and already living there since last several years. They have two children, either are daughters.

 

The next girl, Judy, just after completing her “A-level”, got admitted in the Dept. of anthropology at the University of Birmingham in Midlands of England. After she completed that, she started working for a British Museum outfit at New Castle, where she met her boy-friend, who is a soccer player. They are since married and started living at the nearby town of Gateshead. Her work place is just five km away from their home. They do not have any children as yet. Her husband is already a good player in the game of soccer and plays regularly in the New Castle’s team. However of late he has started practicing very hard as he is desperately interested in securing a berth in England’s home team. His coach feels that if he practices regularly, soon he will get the selection of his esteem desire.

 

For obvious reasons, Mervin has a subtle yet presentable English accent, which he has inherited from his father. This is very well noticeable during his talking. He can speak & communicate well convincingly and has a good command over the English grammar too.

 

His father Mr. William Dowzel has a similar accent, which he has accrued due to his protracted service with the British Civil Service, while in England and later while working in India. This he proudly claims as “Queen’s English”. Surprisingly he could not adjust himself in talking with the local American accent of English. Of course, his daughters, since either of them are presently living in Northern England, somehow developed the local accent. That is something that Mervin always makes jokes with them. 

 

Mervin does not remember any thing of India’s, nor has he gone there ever afterwards. In spite of that since all three children of Mr. Dowzel’s were born in India, they still maintain touch with the local elite Indian society as yet. People in Wales are much friendlier in attitude than the average English people in general. Like any other standard Wales-man, he loves music and like singing too. Mervin had come to USA immediately a few months after his father initially had come to USA, when he was just twenty years old. He was still a student and eventually joined the renowned Columbia University in the city of New York.

 

The senior Mr. Dowzel has bought an apartment in Brooklyn and lives near Prospect Park. Mervin is aspiring to complete his Ph. D. in Social Sciences in a few years. As per the standard practice that is prevailing in the Western world, like most students, he is also meeting his cost of studies and other ancillaries by himself. However he just completed his Masters. He has been offered a post of a Lecturer in the same Dept. where he was since a student, since it could give him the opportunity to continue with his higher studies, to fulfill his aspirations. He would like & love to go to live in Canada. The place he is having in mind in Vancouver in the province of British Columbia. He feels that there is some job opportunity for him at Vancouver. Thus he accepted the assignment in his own University with pleasure.

 

Meanwhile came one day the notice of drafting. As per the federal laws in U.S.A., every citizen must have to serve a compulsory period of Govt. service, mainly in its Defense Dept. This is compulsory for all males, although for women it is not so. In fact all residents, who are even foreign nationals & living in this country, are also guided by a similar rule, although somewhat modified these are. So he was one day drafted by the local Defense authorities several months ago. Normally his University and College authorities did not have much to object to it, as that was against the law. After a short initial indoctrination, which normally could last a few weeks or months too, the person so selected for joining this special mission, might have to serve this compulsory period of service. However in spite of the fact that he was selected, his University Dean, Prof. Macfarlane, who is also a very renowned person in the society, somehow managed to defer that for a while.

 

Although he was born in India, Mervin does not remember anything from the Indian chapter of their family’s incidents, nor is he that curious of it either. His father, in fact after living in India for so many years, has started loving India. So does Mrs. Dowzel too. She meticulously prepares very often several Indian cuisines, out of which an item of fish curry with rice once a week for their evening dinner is a ritual. Another ritual is to live with vegetarian food at least once a week, which coincides with their Catholic system too. Mervin is not apathetic to this Indian style of food, since he is taking these since his childhood, in fact has since started a liking for these.

 

 

ARRIVAL OF SANDRA JAMES IN MERVIN’S LIFE:-

 

 

Incidentally there was another interesting item in his life, which recently took place. That was the arrival of his girl friend in his life. Her name is Sandra James, a gold medalist in the same University in the related dept. of Sociology. She also is not an American by virtue of birth. She is a pretty girl, as per the general American standard. Her father Mr. Robert James had come from the apartheid country of South Africa ages ago. They are living in this country since over several years. It was an interesting incident for them to meet. They were not introduced to each other by any common friend of theirs either. It just got happened as a matter of incidence.

 

Sandra’s father Mr. Hubert James was an anti-apartheid revolutionary in his country. They are from the Orange Free State in their country and he is a strong believer of involvement of equal rights of the locale Africans in all facades of life. However as until date, the authorities of that country did not at all approve of such way of approach and as a result Mr. James was heckled very often within his own circles of friends, neighbours and office colleagues too. People, mainly whites behaved as if he is committing something that is virtually impossible. That is why, one fine morning he decided to leave the country and migrate abroad. His forefathers were originally Dutch and all of them came from their village, which is located at places in & around the present town of Antwerp in Holland. Mr. James in fact was not that an anthropologist in his way of approach.

 

Although his father was always insisting him to go to trace his ancestral place in Holland, he did not take it that seriously. His father, i.e., Hubert’s father normally drew a rosy interesting picture of Holland. Holland is a country, which is much lower that the M.S.L. and the vast land in this country is thus protected by means of huge dykes or embankments althrough. That is a land of many flowers, like tulips, daffodils. Holland is a country of another interesting item, i.e., the wind mills. In-spite of listening of so many facts or figures of Holland from his father, Hubert surprisingly did not take much interest about his home land, i.e., Holland. Neither could he speak, nor could he read or write in Dutch, the language of the people in Holland, also called as The Netherlands.

 

However he was a strong believer in anti-racial approach in the human society. He liked France. In France, as he heard of, there it is a different type of the society. “Which class do you belong ; is it cultured or non-cultured”. As per the French, the society comprises these two sectors. However since Mr. James was not so strong in the language of French either and also the country being a cold country, he somehow or other decided to choose U.S.A. He applied for immigration to The States and eventually migrated over a decade ago with his family. He has since received the American citizenship. In U.S.A. the average opportunities for ordinary people are extremely wide and career prospects for any aspiring individual can stretch far & wide. That is what Sandra has since proved it comfortably.

 

Mr. Hubert James is since retired from his services a couple of years ago and decided to live in New Brunswick, one of the adjoining towns of New Jersey, which is the neighbouring state of New York in U.S.A. From here Sandra comes daily by way of driving an average of over 30 miles each way in her car. To come to the University, she has to get through the Lincoln Tunnel either way. Mr. James has his own car, although he does not like to drive much at all. His main activity, after his recent retirement, is farming and his main hobby is interestingly gardening. He is a lover of flowers, possibly due to inheritance of the Dutch tradition in his system and has cultivated several flowers in his courtyard – cum - kitchen garden. In fact he can proudly display of at least a dozen types of roses comfortably any moment.

 

 

AN INDIAN PROGRAMME IN THE SOIL OF U.S.A.

 

Over a year ago, there was a function, in the town hall of New York, hosted by the Mayor of the city of New York. That was the day of celebration of an Indian function in the name of “Holi”. This is very traditional for the Indian society and it is in fact an interesting festival of colours. The programme was jointly organized by the City Authority and so many of the local elites of the Indian Society. This was very well organized by the organizers, as it was studded with American songs as well as Indian songs with Indian folk dance.

 

SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS PROGRAMME:-

 

The festival of Holi is celebrated on the day after the full moon in early March every year all over the country of India. The organizer, to start with, interpreted and also explained the significance of such a festival to the audience.


Originally a festival to celebrate good harvests and fertility of the land, Holi is now a symbolic commemoration of a legend from Hindu Mythology. The story centers around an arrogant king who resents his son Prahlada worshipping Lord Vishnu. He attempts to kill his son but fails each time. Finally, the king's sister Holika who is said to be immune to burning, sits with the boy in a huge fire. However, the prince Prahlada emerges unscathed, while his aunt burns to death. Holi commemorates this event from mythology, and huge bonfires are burnt on the eve of Holi as its symbolic representation.

                  

This exuberant festival is also associated with the immortal love of Lord Krishna and Goddess Radha, and hence, Holi is spread over 16 days in Vrindavan as well as Mathura in India - the two cities with which Lord Krishna shared a deep affiliation. Apart from the usual fun with coloured powder and water, Holi is marked by vibrant processions which are accompanied by folk songs, dances and a general sense of abandoned vitality

 

The most interesting item in today’s programme was that of a few dance, some community dance, of Indian men & women with a variety of traditional costumes, while they were playing with coloured powders.

 

The interesting thing is that this powder was very light and they could throw it high up and thus making the entire stage well colourful and impressive. Of course this entire item of dance was also studded with variety of songs presumably all Indian folk songs with some sort of oriental drum. This was to some extent similar to the African drums that the local natives of Africa play, although it was in that programme, far far refined compared to that. The themes of all the songs were eventually translated in English. In fact they had translated some songs in English and danced too in their traditional cultural way with those English versions of the songs with colours throwing. They told that the festival of Holi is essentially a festival of colors, which is since alive in the Indian sub-continent since over thousands of years. It was overall very interesting and extremely appealing to either family.

 

All other spectators in the auditorium enjoyed it immensely, which was evident from the non-stopping applauds, most of which were from the American whites. In fact although it was primarily a festival as per the Indian calendar, the percentage of Indians in the audience was not that much, which was very surprising. As a matter of invitees, Mr. Dowzel and Mr. James received their invitation cards, seat numbers of which were just adjacent. Further Sandra was the last to take the seat in that row and the only seat that was left, next to Mervin. During the course of appreciation & applauding, they exchanged smiles with each other. Later during the intermission, they became a bit closer, as Mervin offered a coke to Sandra, whilst Sandra shared her popcorn with him. The first meeting went very smooth like this.

 

A few days later surprise awaited either of them. It was the common passage in the lobby in their University, as they just met each other. Surprise was at the extreme, when they discovered that not only they are from the same University in the same town, but also bye & large from the same Dept. in this University too. The Dept. of Social Science and the Dept. of Sociology are in the same corner of the University campus. The Dean in this University for either subject is the same person too. His name is Prof. Arthur Macfarlane. In fact they share the common auditorium, common library, and common research room too. Not only that they have a common canteen for either of theirs too, but the general canteen of the University, located near the University main gate is far bigger and normally offers a wider choice of eatable items and that too at much a cheaper rate. Surprisingly several items of Indian foods are also available in that place too. In fact that is where, either of them was heading too.

 

Rest of the episode perhaps appears very simple to imagine, although it was not so. In fact it was not exactly in that easy stereotyped style of “falling in love” for either of them at all. They were still just acquaintances.

 

 

ANOTHER PROGRAMME OF A DEBATE ORGANISED IN THE COLLEGE. :-

 

 

A few weeks later there was a function of extremely interesting inter departmental debate, organized by their common University. The theme was “Oriental Culture vs. Western Culture – which is better for the society ! “ – an incident that really shook the whole student forum.

 

 In fact due to the presence of a large percentage of students from the Indian Sub-Continent and other Asians in the student society, the University was apprehensive of such a topic. However it was initiated by the Mayor of the city of New York, who is indeed one of the alumni of this University. He was much interested in this item of debate to organize. He is also the convener and agreed to grace the function most willingly. He is an American, originally from the Southern State of Louisiana, although he has never been to India or any country in the Orient. Throughout his life, he is living in USA and likes to live there. At the most he has gone to Puerto Rico, which is now a protectorate state of USA. People has the habit of remarking in his absence that possibly he is instrumental in acquiring Puerto Rico, as a state, for some of his personal likings .

 

The interesting item is that Sandra & Mervin did not have any idea, that the other is to join the same very function. Neither of them disclosed it to the other. The element of real surprise took place, when the speaker announced the name of each participant and they were asked to come over to the dais. It was a galaxy of good gathering from the University, although most of which are students, out of which a sizable cross section was Asians. Mervin noticed Sandra and so did Sandra notice Mervin, as they happened to be in the same group of people to offer the same argument.

 

The function started as per schedule and unwillingly Sandra came a bit closer to Mervin, much to Mervin’s surprise. She was feeling somewhat nervous. So for obvious reasons, Mervin assisted this friend of his in order to encourage so that she can present her points properly. When the actual call came for Mervin, he went to the stage and came forward as if asking for Sandra’s permission at this occasion in order for her concurrence. Mervin noticed that Sandra was looking at him, without any movement within her. Although in a short while from then, he realized that it was no element of love, but it was a matter of genuine surprise. The moment he came down to take his seat back, Sandra charged him as to how come Mervin could present so many points, which are in fact exhumed by Sandra from the library since last two days. 

 

“How come all these points you presented in the dais ! Where did you get all these ! “ – Sandra openly charged Mervin amidst the crowd.

 

Mervin was indeed much astonished at such an open charge. However due to his quick & strong presence of mind, he took control of the situation and realized that at this point Sandra will not listen to any explanation so easily. He wanted to cool her down and politely replied her “ Well it’s a bit of a story, since the library is the source of all such data & info. Just please ask Brian Williams and Dicky Richards too, since they were there to assist me in order to exhume all these data, of course in their own way as per their desire & leisure” 

 

That was a lot of awesome surprise to him. In fact he has also done the same exercise to collect so many of the data. Possibly they might have referred the similar lot of books or periodicals to present their topic to the mass. 

 

Mervin with his standard sense of humour has made it far more presentable, than Sandra could possibly think of. Eventually came the turn for Sandra to present her points. Surprisingly, she also delivered so many points that Mervin had done a short while ago, but due to her super-powerful presence of mind, she has given a new dimension to all these points. As a result of this, this went equally presentable, if not even better than that of Mervin’s. When that was over, it was Mervin to come ahead to applaud her in front of others to felicitate so openly, that Sandra came back to senses. That was all over in the next fifty minutes. Mervin offered her to join for a coke again in the canteen, which is normally open until 10.00PM. Sandra agreed to join her. She unfolded the points that she gathered by way of searching in the periodicals, which Mervin was surprised to notice that majority happened to be of common origin. Nevertheless, rest of the evening went peacefully as no further untoward incident took place within them. They eventually left peacefully, at the end of the day, as normally any other individuals would.

 

A few days later, it was in the canteen again, Sandra discovered Mervin. She was all alone by herself. Her classmates did not somehow manage to turn up and she was feeling so miserable to finish her food by herself, without a tinge to chat with anyone. So she asked Mervin eagerly to join her. Mervin did so.

 

A NEW EPISODE STARTS IN THEIR LIVES TODAY :-

 

So this is the euphemistic start of a new episode in their lives. They had a real one hour recess that day.

 

They presumably enjoyed the chat for that hour, as a result of which they also met the next day and the day after that too. That is how they started meeting each other, day after day at the same canteen. In fact either of them was absolutely unaware that their indirect dating was slowly getting started and that too has originated from the table of the general canteen of this University. This in fact continued for several weeks, which slowly rolled into months at a stretch, although neither of them could sensibly smell of it at all. In fact either of them surprisingly had started a strange sense of liking for each other, something they are yet absolutely unaware of. 

 

 

SOME INTERESTING TOPICS FOR THE STUDENTS TO DISCUSS :-

 

A few days later in Sandra’s class Prof. Macfarlane, their Dean in their University, announced to all such senior students, that he will re-orient their weekly recess class hour, which is meant for discussion in a little different way. This, as he plans, is an extra-ordinary period for over an hour or two, where each of the students can fetch a new topic of their own to discuss. The only condition is that, the topic has to be a topic of the present day, possibly having its root ages ago. The topic can embrace any item of any country in the world. The objective of the Dean is that the students should keep themselves abreast of all incidents in the present day world and they must have the capability to adopt themselves to all situations they will have to confront in their respective lives to come. The students asked as to what that the topic could be. In fact the Dean himself surprisingly asked the students if anyone has any idea to keep the class-room engaged, although not with fun or frolics or fantasy, rather with interesting alive topic from any country in the world. It was indeed an interesting challenge.

 

To make it far attractive, the Dean announced that whosoever can present the most interesting topic, he will announce a special prize for him or her. The topic, as per the Dean, is preferably to be absolutely non-political. Ideally this topic is expected to embrace any item of the present day world, like in history of the modern days (starting from the do’s and don’ts that history ideally teaches all of us all over the world) or geography (its impact on all of us in respect of the present day life, including pollution of the environment), item of sociology which has an impact in our day to day lives, or similar several such items. It is better to exclude any item of science, as it is far too vast. The Dean ideally is interested to make each of his students an all-rounder for their future endeavors in their respective fields of activities. The topic, he even added, can embrace items of archaeological interest, which has an impact over the society. For instance he welcomed a topic over the Maoris of New Zealand or about the Pigmies in Central Africa or the lifestyles of the Eskimos in the Tundra region of the Arctic. It can even attack the North American society asking them to stop catching of whales in the Canadian coast too. Any item of global interest, which is an active item, good or bad, is welcome for presenting in the forum.

 

The Dean although announced this for the class of Sociology, he would not mind even asking the students from the neighboring Depts. of Social Science too to join it, if the response here is not up to the mark, as per him. The topic is not to be repeated by anyone else, once it is tabled, except the students are free to discuss all pros & cons of the topic with speaker or interact within other students. There is no time limit for the subject as a minimum, although it is expected that no topic should spill over to the next class or the next day. Like it or not, the students somehow should finish it the same day.

 

This announcement made the entire student forum much too worried. This is so, as in their academic curriculum, they have a subject called external ideas or innovations, although no classes were so far held in this. This period was virtually considered as an off-period and all of them well utilized this in the canteen or the library or chatting in the corridor or the corner of the lobby. None of the students have paid any attention to this aspect, as marks were relatively low for it. After this announcement from the Dean, the students realized that now starts this subject. It was Sandra to feel the pinch too, as her general knowledge beyond her academic sphere or her closely knit society is very marginal. It is just with her extra-ordinary presence of mind, she can manage to glide over so many tight corners. Yet fulfilling the requirement of an academic subject is of extreme significance to any student and thus it is utterly baffling to her, like most of the students in that group too. 

 

Eventually for obvious reasons, she disclosed the matter to Mervin, who with his natural sense of humour, did not take it seriously at all. In-spite of that Sandra insisted with him as to create an uncommon topic of extraordinary interest, so that she succeeds to get some presentable marks. This subject does not have any examination, as it is graded just by a team of the faculty teachers concerned, from the disseminations the students present amongst the mass. Slowly & gradually Mervin realizes that he has to do something to alleviate the agony of this newly acquired girl friend of his. He patted her and told that nothing to worry. There is still some time, a couple of weeks for her to present. The Dean incidentally announced too that he will also appreciate the pioneer, whosoever will initiate the most interesting topic.

 

Mervin went home seriously thinking as to what can he do to ameliorate the faith that Sandra has since reposed in him. His worry eventually touched the Sr. Dowzel, i.e., Mr. William Dowzell at their home. He enquired as to what it is all about. Mervin explained in short. He did not take it either apparently seriously at all, except that he asked Mervin to remind of it after their dinner was over.

 

After the dinner, William asked Martha, his wife, to come and sit close to him and then decided to call Mervin near them. When Mervin came, William started.

 

“Mervin, presumably you are aware that Martha is from Scotland, although we got married in London, since we were working at offices, which were close-by. Perhaps, you are also aware that neither myself nor Martha is English, as myself is from Wales and she is from the northern town of Inverness in Scotland. Of course we were both British by way of birth. You might have noticed just a little Welsh accent comes out of me while talking, although Martha yet could not get rid of her local Scottish accent.

 

“To answer your requirement, here is something that she can help you with. Yes, this is the subject that we are thinking of telling you. Do not have any idea about Loch Ness Monster, the pre-historic monster in Scotland !”

 

Mervin looked much in surprise towards William and replied that he does not.

 

William continued with that reply, “That is right. However as you are aware Martha comes from a remote village in the northern county of Scotland, where there is a big myth of a pre-historic dinosaur-like monster, which still exists as until date.”

 

Mervin looked extremely surprised at this message. “What are you talking of ! The dinosaurs are extinct since over sixty millions of years ago.” He exclaimed in utter surprise to William.

 

“Yes that’s right” Martha agreed. She later continued after a breath, “As per the Geologists, Zoologists and people from several streams of Science, they are possibly extinct. Yet as per the local inhabitants of Scotland, this pre-historic monster, which is a rare species of the actual amphibian reptile, still exists in the present day world. Its name is Loch Ness Monster. In the old Scottish language, which some people call as Gaelic, the word “loch” means lake. The name of “Ness” comes from the River Ness. 

 

“Inverness” she continued,” that is where my original home was. Inverness - meaning at the mouth of the River Ness", there has been a settlement here for at least 1500 years. She explained to her bewildered son with a smile, “We hope that this entire episode of this monster will answer your desired requirement.” Meanwhile William took out an old world atlas from his study room and from that he pointed out the location of that place in Scotland vis-à-vis that of overall U.K. Mervin was utterly speechless and he kept on listening to his parents. “Your elder sisters are presumably well aware of this fantasy or myth, whatever you will call it.” She continued, “As an original Scottish girl, we were brought up with this myth right from our childhood. In fact none of us, including any members of my family or friends have witnessed it, although there is a galaxy of people in & out of Scotland, who can confirm even today that they have noticed or witnessed the evidence of existence of such a creature.”

 

Mervin was virtually glued to his chair and had just no word to utter for several minutes. Yet he was smart enough to collect as much data and started writing some short account of what he has since heard from them. The entire evening he spent with this interesting research topic. It is surprising how this creature is existing or surviving in the present day world and more interesting is how come people of this Continent are not that aware of it too.

 

The next morning, Mervin wanted to unfold this interesting topic to Sandra, as if he has just conquered the world. As usual, hearing for the first few minutes, Sandra exclaimed her disgust and she did not want to pay any further attention to such a cock-and-bull story. Not only that, she even announced that enough of assistance from Mervin for this & thanks to him. She will prepare some thing of her own, as such rubbish will only make the audience go for a slumber. 

 

At that point, it just so happened that Prof. Macfarlane, the Dean was just passing by, as they were arguing in a corner of the corridor, which leads to the Dean’s office. Out of sheer as well as affectionate curiosity, he enquired as to what it was all about ! Even before Sandra could clear off her disgust about the said story, Mervin just modestly mentioned that they were just having some idle talk about the pre-historic Loch Ness Monster in Scotland. Hearing this, the Dean turned round and to the utter surprise of each of them, Prof. Macfarlane admitted that evidence of existence of such a creature is there with some people, with whom he has acquaintance. The Dean asked as to what is the source of such a topic and wanted if they could produce some further data or info. about this creature for his academic interest. Mervin politely replied that this topic he has just gathered from his parents at his home and this is actually the topic that he is helping Sandra to prepare in order to come for presenting in the “open house of re-oriented weekly recess class hour meant for the students”, which is called for once every week by the Faculty. In reply to this the Dean accepted this with a pleasing smile and suggested that let Mervin present this topic himself, since Mervin is a good orator as per any standard. However he agreed to let Sandra also be at the dais in order help him, while he was to narrate it and with this she will equally qualify to take a share out of the credit that Mervin can extract in such a meeting.

 

What a pleasant moment it was for Mervin, which he never expected out of the Professor. He expressed his sincere gratitude and accepted his suggestion to do so. Sandra was bewildered so much, that she did not have any word for a few moments with her, nor could she extend her gratitude to the senior-most Professor either. Prof. Macfarlane, while about to leave, told Mervin to come well prepared as necessary, as he would like to invite Professors and Faculty Members from other Depts., who are possibly interested to attend such a programme. He also intimated that he would like to invite a few external friends of his, who might get interest, inclusive of the some relevant people from the press. Well that is enough of a notice for Mervin as well as Sandra to get ready for their D-Day.

 

The next few days were spent in a lot of non-romantic activities from either of them. It was just Mervin to collect data from his parents about the pre-historic monster and later to explain to Sandra the next day either in the corner of the lobby or in the canteen or even they met under the tree-shed near the main University’s entrance gate. They had split their responsibilities. That is his task was to prepare the story in such a way that should make it palatable & acceptable to the mass, while Sandra was to collect from the University library all possible relevant items - like the map of the local area from the world Atlas, prepare some slides with proper notes, take many photocopies of all such data and some other pictures. The activities of either of them were so nicely synchronized, that the entire presentation was nearing fast completion.

 

Then finally came the D-day. Mervin just wore a navy blue suit with a white shirt & with a red-tie, whereas Sandra wore crimson coloured skirt with a pinky top & with white scurf. Each of them was looking very presentable and was awaiting the arrival of Prof. Macfarlane to start. The crowd was comparatively large as students from other Depts. & members of other Faculty, including representatives of press were amongst the crowd. Mervin had meanwhile asked for permission from Prof. Macfarlane to invite his parents in this gathering, since they were the source of such a topic to him. Professor gladly agreed to it. Sandra was much too nervous, for which she was looking at her watch too frequently, whereas Mervin was very cool with a jovial approach, which is characteristic of his.

 

Ultimately Prof. Macfarlane arrived exactly as per the schedule. So here it starts. First of all, Prof. Macfarlane gave a very short introduction for just a few minutes to the topic & then let the floors open to either of them.  

 

“Revered Dean of ours, respectable Professors, Hon’ble faculty members, friends & colleagues, ladies and gentlemen” here starts Mervin, “let us introduce ourselves first of all. Myself is Mervin Dowzel and here is next to me, my colleague Miss Sandra James. We presume most of you or all of you have since noticed either of us in many many instances, at various functions and at various corners of this University campus”. That was the style of his euphemistic beginning.

 

“Today we are here to talk of a mysterious myth-cum-reality in respect of the existence of a dinosaur. Well we all are aware that these reptiles are creatures of pre-historic origin, which dominated & ruled over the surface of the earth for several millions of years. These are already extinct since over fifty to sixty million years ago. However let us take the trouble or have the pleasure in unfolding an unbelievably yet interesting incident of existence of such a dinosaur in this present day world.

 

“The location of the existence of this reptile is at Scotland, a country in the northern British Isles. The story starts with a place, rather it is a town called Inverness in the northern Scotland. Inverness - meaning at the mouth of the River Ness”.

 

Meanwhile Sandra presented the slide of the map of northern Scotland to all the faculty members & most others and started explaining about the geographical location of the exact place.     

 

                                  

“The name of this pre-historic yet existing dinosaur is ---”, he paused and looked at Sandra for a while deliberately. Sandra, somehow, appeared less nervous. “Its name is Loch Ness Monster. In the old Scottish language, which some people call as Gaelic, the word “loch” means lake. The name of “Ness” comes from the River Ness. So let me welcome all of you to the romance, myth and mystery of Loch Ness in the Highlands of Scotland, home of the world-famous monster, known affectionately to locals as 'Nessie”.   

 

“Loch Ness is part of the Great Glen, an enormous fissure in the earth that just about splits Scotland into two. There are a series of lochs, rivers and canals that link the Atlantic with the North Sea. This is the most north-eastern of these.

 

Pictures of this monster as pictured by some Scottish fisher-men is presented here.

 

“It is the largest freshwater lake in Scotland and also in Britain. It is twenty four miles long and a maximum of one and a half miles wide. Its maximum depth is around 750 feet and its average depth 450 feet. Because the waters are very cold, and also very cloudy it is difficult to see underwater more than a few feet. So there is a lot of murky water in which Nessie could hide.

 

“Nessie was first spotted by the Vikings. Celtic and Norse folklore, old Scottish folktales, has stories of water horses seen in the lochs. The first written account of a meeting with Nessie seems to be that of Adamnan in 565 A.D. The monster was also seen last century but the poor man who sighted the beast was so shocked he did not speak much about the incident.

 

Another picture of this monster as pictured by some Scottish witnesses are presented here

 

Sandra presented some slides of its photograph, as it was available & imagined by somebody.

 

Some other picture of the monster as watched by so many people are presented here.

 

“It was only after 1933, when a new road was built along the lake shore and people were first able to visit the area in large numbers, which reports of sightings really took off.                 

 

“Let’s take the evidence from a Scottish fisherman in the name of Alex Campbell. His main job was catching salmon from the lake for him. Campbell, because of his job, spent a lot of time observing the Loch, and he saw Nessie a number of times. Campbell imagined it at 30 feet long and described it as having "a long, tapering neck, about 6 feet long, and a smallish head with a serpentine look about it, and a huge hump behind..."

In April 1933 Mr&Mrs Mackay were driving down the lochside from Inverness to their home in Drumnadrochit when Mrs. Mackay saw a disturbance in the loch which she at first thought was ducks fighting but as she watched she saw a large beast in the middle of the loch rolling and plunging in the water causing a great disturbance.The sighting was reported to Alex Campbell, a local game keeper and a reporter for the Inverness Courier (Campbell claims to have seen the monster on no less than 18 occasions).

The story first appeared in the paper on 2nd of May 1933 and thus the Loch Ness monster as we know it today was born.

                                           

Once again, it was Sandra to present some slides of its photograph, since pictured as well as imagined by him.

 

“Here is a startling incident. In fact a few years ago, three girls came from the city of London, who disbelieved the existence of such a momster at all. They wanted to have some evidence of its existence. They wanted to camp just next to the lake at a place, where apparently the monster might have come more frequently. They were warned by the local inhabitants not to stay or park their caravan so close to the lake. They ignored it totally as a matter of craze. They came in a large caravan type of a car. This caravan had a lot of modern in-built accessories with it, which local people are not familiar with. In-spite of several such words of cautions from the local inhabitants, one of the girls, who was apparently the most disbeliever of the lot, frequently stayed for hours in the middle of the nights at its bank in search of evidence. However one night, hearing some strange frightening sound, she came out with her gadgets to take pictures, out of the caravan. A few minutes later her colleagues could hear a lot of screaming loud sounds, as if somebody is fighting with the other. They could recognize her voice. What was apparently the most frightening matter was that, she could not utter any proper word, although her screaming voice was audible to the other girls , it appeared as if she is moving upwards and then it stopped suddenly too. She never came back as yet. From this the local people and afterwards the official investigators came to the conclusion, that she is possibly caught by the monster, although the source of her screaming voice moving upwards & then disappearing still remains a mystery. Was it that she was lifted by somebody or else what is it ! Some analyzed that the monster is so high, that when it picks, prior to gulping like any other reptiles, take up to its own height. That means its neck was as high as ten meters. That indeed was very frightening to the entire mass. The other girls, obviously, did not have the mental strength to get back to their home even. They were later escorted by the local people to return too. Since then, no such courageous team has ever ventured like that, except in the day-hours.

 

However to summarize the entire topic, in-spite of several local, national as well as international agencies taking up search & research work in respect of this plesiosaur-like dinosaur throughout the last 100 years, nothing is yet definitely proved of its existence too.

 

Mervin concluded the chapter in his impeccable style, that none of the evidences so far shows proof of Nessie's existence. On the other hand the waters are big enough and deep enough to hide such a creature. If at all there is such an amphibian monster, the next question, is it only one or several such are there. In one way its existence cannot be proved, although its existence can not be denied at all either, since there are lots & lots of evidences of its existence all over the local area in Scotland.

 

The people from the Press and some other people including some students, who had some questions or wanted to have some doubts cleared, got these clarified from Mervin and Sandra. Sandra distributed all the extra copies of the map of Scotland to the Press people together with the remaining pictures, as imagined by others, to several other Faculty members, in order to answer their queries to the extent they possibly could over there. 

 

Mervin concluded his speech, with the permission of the Professor and there was apparently a never-ending loud noise of applauds. Mr. William & Martha were introduced to Prof. Macfarlane and other senior Faculty members. Prof. Macfarlane invited all of them to join for a cup of coffee at his office, which was accepted by so many of them.

 

So that was so far the best presentation in respect of this re-oriented period of weekly recess class hour. This extra-ordinary incident in fact brought Sandra much closer to Mervin, although much to the unawareness of either of them.

 

ARE THEY IN LOVE WITH EACH OTHER ! :-

 

Sandra was about to complete her Masters and she had an option to accept an assignment, which Prof. Macfarlane, their common Dean has fixed for her. That is a post of an Associate Lecturer to start with at the University College of Sociology, St. Paul, near Minneapolis in the state of Minnesota. When Sandra came to announce this great news to Mervin, he got totally fused as if his total energy is sucked by some external enemy. Mervin discovered that his days of having a company with Sandra is coming to an end. He quickly ended the discussion and got up for his home and while he was heading his home, he started thinking as to why he didn’t take this news of hers that sportingly, as others did & congratulated her. He slowly realized that he has started a new era of life, is it called “falling in love”. However now the point is how to tell her and when too. He spent the whole evening thinking as to how to tell her. So at about 10 PM, he called up Sandra. She was very surprised first of all at the manner that was exhibited by Mervin at the news of her assignment at St. Paul and secondly receiving a call so late from him. Of course for an American, it is nothing so great to receive a telephone call at 10 O’clock, although for Sandra it never was never from Mervin.

 

“Yes Mervin, what is it that you are calling me for !” – her reply came very cute and sharp for him.

 

“Nothing really so, just for your posting, in fact the place is not a very healthy place, do you understand what we mean!”

 

“ Not really. What is so not healthy ! What exactly do you mean, please just elaborate.”

 

“OK shall tell you tomorrow, in the University. Incidentally are you coming there tomorrow.”

 

The conversation went for a little while, like this not much meaningfully.

 

Although it was a day off for her the next day, she accepted his call and confirmed that she would come. The next day lunch hour in the canteen was a speechless day initially for Mervin and eventually for Sandra too. Was it really that she started feeling the pinch of his emotions too at the same frequency ! If not, then what was it that kept either of them so speechless for over virtually an hour since meeting ! The cool glasses of coke went warm and the plate with the warm pie got virtually cooler than the room temperature. Slowly & gradually either of them started realizing that they were in love with each other. Just a sudden stroke of message, for posting thousand miles away for Sandra, made them come far too closer.

 

 

PLANNING FOR THEIR MARRIAGE :-

 

 

So that was the beginning. In fact the next episode is long in terms of time but short in terms of events. They kept on meeting at different places of the city at regular intervals, mostly in the week ends. They met at the subway of the downtown Manhattan or at the beach near the Coney Island in Brooklyn or perhaps at the Open Air Theatre of the Central Park. Another day they spent near the Times Square, (sorry not the day, rather it was the evening, although Sandra was not that interested in that). However their commonest rendezvous was a corner of the Prospect Park at the island of Brooklyn, since it was very near Mervin’s house. In fact they also were aiming to purchase an apartment very close to that in Brooklyn and they already started having dialogues with several agencies. For instance, they had talked to the interior decorators, the shops for furniture, planning for the crockery or the kitchen utensils, upholstery and similar several items. 

 

Of course, the entire courting was always accompanied with a lot of jokes & humours. Mervin had a fantastic sense of humour, which he has inherited from his father. Although Sandra was smart enough to catch the wit in most of his jokes, she did not have that good sense of humour Thus she was not that quick enough to reply such jokes of his.

 

For instance Mervin was feeling very sorry the other day that special fruit-n-nutty ice cream, which so far costs just a dollar, will start costing two dollars.

 

“How come, was there any announcement for increase of price ! Just the other day, myself had purchased at the University gate, it was also just a dollar each about a week ago” -  Sandra got astonished.

 

Mervin coolly announced “ Not really, except it is difficult for me to purchase just one, myself will have no other choice than to have two at least. Later it could come to three or four, who can say how many !“

 

Sandra got the message & came to her senses and chased after him, as if to hit, in fun.

 

In such continuous fun & frolics, their immediate days were passing. They went to Macy’s the-then largest dept. store in the mid-town Manhattan. Mervin had a lot of friends and so did Sandra in that huge store. They went to the electronics area. There was TV, with the area of the TV as wide as their double their size, in fact they themselves were looking very tiny when compared to that. Then there was a fun mirror, which had some jugglery of concave & convex glasses in it. As a result of their pictures got so funny, that all of them started laughing looking at their own images in these mirrors. That was an interesting place. They often call it a ”fun-room” within this store. They met their friends and had some snacks within this huge store and eventually came out after spending virtually whatever they had with them in that day, purchasing so many things. Most of the purchase was not that serious, although they did the purchase. 

 

Then they had programme for a holiday at the Disneyworld. Walt Disney has made two centers of fun-fair. The first & the original is at California, this is called Disneyland. The next one was a recent creation of theirs in the state of Florida, at a place called Orlando. This is called Disneyworld. Each have their individual pomp & grandeur, individual items of attraction and a lot of interesting fun-filled game centers or fun-centers as they call it. The place of California is far away. So they decided to have a trip to the nearer Disneyworld. This is a place where storybook fantasy comes to life for people & mostly children of all ages. The extra attraction is that this Disney world has got three different studios or fun centers. These are the main Disney world, Epcott Centre and MGM studio. The last two are new addition to that. The cost of the ticket was about several dollars each per day. Normally each will take at least a day each. If you want to hurry up, you can possibly club the next two in a day, although keep a whole single day for the main item of Disneyworld. That was a really memorable holiday. As a matter of journey, Sandra wanted to take her car, however Mervin preferred to travel in the Greyhound coaches. These coaches are very comfortable, having toilets within and some are double storied too. These are very cheap and not only that there is no strain of driving about a thousand miles from New York is there. So that is what they took and indeed it was a wise decision it was proved later. Their overall holiday programme was well enjoyable for either of them. 

 

After returning to their old place of working at New York, Sandra expressed, “Oh how nice you feel, when you come home. Isn’t it !”

 

Mervin did not agree. Rather he was complaining that the holiday was far too short. 

 

Soon came the day when either of them eventually decided to get married. Each of them finally managed to intimate the matter to their respective parents. Mr. James and Mr. Dowzel with their respective families met each other in some special gathering and each congratulated the other. Each family was prepared to accept it. Their date of marriage is bye and large fixed, later in this year of 1971.

 

Meanwhile Sandra, much to the surprise of their common Dean, managed to get a somewhat presentable job offer at the same place of the University as an Assistant to the Reader, by position it is good, although not a good paymaster.

 

That was just the start of their planning for a life together.

 

 

THEIR PROGRAMME FOR A SHORT HOLIDAY AT HAWAII :-

 

 

Meanwhile there were a few days of holidays at the University due to some special occasions. Sandra already planned for a trip to Hawaii, as from some friends she has managed to get some discount coupons for some resort for holidays. They were planning to be there with eagerness. The only thing is the air-fare. Sandra attended some special tutorial classes to earn some extra dollars, whereas Mervin started working during the weekend in a large food supermarket in quest of some extra dollars too. At the end of their waiting period, they were all ready to start their holiday to Hawaii. So finally came that day. In the aircraft, they did not speak anything, until their aircraft landed at Chicago, as an interim stoppage a few hours later. Next halt is at San Francisco. From there, their flight will take off for Hawaii and that is again another few hours.

 

At Chicago, Mervin asked whether she is hungry, so that he will arrange for some food. Sandra replied in short that there is plenty of food, which was given to her from her home and all these are in her case, placed in the overhead locker within the aircraft itself. This contains a lot of food, like sandwiches, jam, ham and other edible, including a large can of coke too. So as a matter of first priority, Mervin unloaded all these in the waiting lounge of Chicago airport. After a short waiting, inclusive of changing of the aircraft they got up in the plane for Frisco. There also it was a couple of hours of waiting and finally the last bit of the journey will come to an end up to their islands of dreams. So the aircraft at some point of time landed. There was a pick-up van from the holiday centre and it took a little less than an hour to reach there.

 

 

HOLIDAY OF DREAM FOR EITHER OF THEM AT HAWAII :-

 

 

Their dream holiday starts at Hawaii. This holiday resort in fact, was at a far away lonely corner of the town and just close to the other corner of the airport.  However they spent the first day without doing anything, excepting a little stroll along the shore of the Pacific Ocean. The beach was not very far from their holiday home, round about two km or so. The approach road was Ok and there were several shops for such holiday makers, all of which were quoting high prices, even for a can of coke. The standard price list that is applicable for the entire country was not apparently applicable for these islanders. Days were spent, however for them the days were spent in a most insignificant way, as they were interested least about others, excepting joining other mass during the dining hours. Neither of them has the habit of drinking. Most of the evenings the organizers arranged a dance show comprising local pretty girls and they were always inviting all the holiday makers to come and join them, as and when they could do so. Most of the days they enjoyed walking themselves down to the beach, out-skirting the other end of the runway of the airport, which is in fact very short. This was in fact the far end of the airport. And virtually there was no crowd of a standard airport crew at this far corner. This helped them in fact to enjoy the holiday within them. Honestly speaking to them it was a first holiday for either of them together.      

 

Although they were from the Dept. of Social Science or Sociology, they did not at all involve themselves in exchanging much with other holiday-makers or the young couples in the group too. One evening one such couple dragged either of them to join in the community dance programme that are arranged every evening from the local community.

 

Hawaiian dancers (some think it is more properly classed as Polynesian than Asian).

 

Sandra was dancing with a man and surprisingly Mervin started dancing with his girl partner too. At the end of that particular music, this couple invited them to come the next day in the afternoon to their country cottage. The girl’s name was Lisa and her husband was Alberto. They were all locals from the island of Hawaii, although they all speak English fluently. Sandra at the signal from Mervin accepted. They went down the airport, as advised from Lisa, grazing the fencing as that was the direction given to them. The distance to their place from the holiday resort was over a mile or so. The couple was in fact waiting for them, since they could locate Sandra & Mervin from a distance. They offered them some food, a sort of home-made pie and some dry fruits. Then they started walking down the road they came down. The girl wanted to take them down another lane and told that they are aware of a huge drain, which is across the north- western periphery of the airport fencing. It is at places so deep that men easily can hide in that and manage to escape through this. She told that while she was a little girl, she often played hide & seek with her friends at this place, even until while she was in her teens. Indeed this drain at places was two meters deep and four to five meters wide.  The drain is not at all dry as a lot of sewer pass through, although some one who is that ambitious can manage to get through keeping himself totally dry. However the drain was far too long as it was virtually engulfing the north-western periphery of the air strip in the airport in a slightly curved way, stretching about a couple of miles or so.  In fact the airport authorities had utilized the profile to draw its periphery parallel to this drain or rather a ditch. It was infested with a lot of insects too. 

 

At the end of this promenade, the couple offered them some drinks at their place, although Mervin & Sandra politely refused to accept it, since they were teetotalers. Instead they gave some different types of dry fruits and these all were very tasty for either of them, later in the afternoon they came back to their resort. That evening later again in that dance extravaganza, that couple also appeared and requested them to join them the next day for some expedition in the nearby jungle, mainly for hunting. Hunting was not permitted with guns, although old fashioned bow and arrows were acceptable. They agreed too.

 

That was another day of their island adventure at Hawaii. Neither Mervin nor Sandra was apt in any of the norms of way of living in a jungle, since either of them spent their lives in urban areas throughout, since their childhood days. They were in fact just giving this Hawaiian couple some company for the sake of a mini-holiday adventure. They started walking though the rough terrains of the jungle. In fact to either of them, it was far too difficult to walk steadily. It was a nice adventure, though it apparently did not have that ecstasy of excitement or entertainment in that. It was rather a jungle romance, as the smell of the soil, with that of the trees, that of the old shed leaves at the ground, whistling of the birds – all indeed created a different feeling of the world to this two New Yorkers, although it was not new to the Hawaiian couple at all. Mervin started whistling of his own, while Sandra was humming one of her favourite tunes of some pop - music.

 

 

Suddenly a large boar came out rushing out of the woods and ran towards that wide drain. While this couple wanted to chase that, the animal flew so fast and disappeared in that large wide drain, that they had to return empty. Mervin was wondering that this drain is so large and wide that a large boar can comfortably hide and escape through that. In addition this is also an abode for variety of insects and possibly of reptiles too. He was thinking within himself, whether to keep the Hawaii airport authority informed about it. When he just expressed his apprehension, that couple seemed not to have heard of anything. Lisa, the girl told that the airport authority was well aware of it, although they are not adopting any measure to improve the environment or the periphery.

 

Mervin started thinking of his own in respect of that drain. From the point of Social Science or Sociology, what is the far reaching possibility of its impact, Mervin started thinking of it very seriously. However Sandra, like any other girl, took no notice of such serious matters and kept merry making with Lisa. Sandra really started enjoying this little adventure in the jungle, which is possibly first in her life. She was moving like a little girl, however within words of caution from Lisa. Surprisingly Sandra is originally from the Orange Free State in South Africa, there is no dearth of such tiny patches of jungle. In-spite of that she is out & out an urban girl, since she spent most of days within the perimeter of a large city or at the suburbs of a city.

 

Nevertheless, their holiday eventually came to an end, like any other holiday, much too fast. They returned to their place of work, i.e. New York City. Life never waits for anybody and days kept passing, since either of them had resumed their normal duties.

 

It is already two months since their holiday is over, a day came when their common Dean asked for Mervin at his office. Normally he does not call anybody at his office. Must be something is serious. That is why Prof. Macfarlane must have called him.

 

A NEW CHAPTER IN MERVIN’S LIFE STARTS :-

 

Mervin went coolly to his room. When he was about to enter through the last swing door, he could hear some other voice was asking as to who else can the Dean suggest, as there are several names in the list. Mervin knocked the door and entered. Their common Dean and his assistant Dr. Abraham Williams noticed him and greeted him. What Prof. Macfarlane & Dr. Williams had told is summarized in a few words. These are like this, the U.S. Defense is laying their axe for drafting at least over a dozen people. In fact they were about to take him six months ago. However it was Prof. Macfarlane & Dr. Williams had delayed it, a fact that Mervin’s father was aware and he hold him too. However in spite of their sincere interest, they can not defer them any further. That means he is in the list. That was the short name of the game. The U.S. Defense has given him over two weeks to prepare for himself. However they are non-committal about his post or the details of his posting as to where and for how long, what is the specific duty. They only told that a medical examination is necessary and then the Senior General will decide in consultation with Pentagon at Washington D.C. That will take at the most two or three days after that initial checking is over. Until such time, they will have to stay at the airbase at Newark, which is adjacent to New York City. However he is permitted to meet his friends or others while he is here as per their rules.

 

 

Mervin was somewhat aware of such things to happen, although he did not expect that to happen so fast, as he is just about to start compiling his work for his thesis. So the first thing he called was his father Mr. Dowzel & a few minutes later called Sandra and told them the matter in short details. She came running to him and she was absolutely in tears. Mr. Dowzel has spent several years in India working for the British Empire. Thus he was not that startled at all, rather started giving some valuable advices to him. However Sandra is a modern girl of today. To her it is an immense shock, which took place exactly prior to their marriage, as they were planning soon to marry. Irrespective of whatever could happen, finally came the day, he had to accept the decision of the country. Came all his friends and others from every walks of the University society, all came to offer him a temporary farewell. Either of Prof. Macfarlane & Dr. Williams personally told that Mervin’s place in the dept is well reserved for him to complete his thesis and then of Lecturer-ship in the next few years to follow, once he completes his duty.

 

 

So finally came the day for him to join. He was selected in the U.S. Air Force, of course, they had a choice, although it was far too limited. In the next few weeks he was given some lessons that are compulsory for all such new entrants and soon after that was over, came the final day of his mission for somewhere in the Far East. He was not told either as to what is the final destination, as it was kept secret until the very last minute of their landing at that place. This is the standard of their security system.

 

 

FAR ABOVE HIGH UP IN THE SKY :-

 

 

This is in fact where we started our story initially.

 

Far above the level of the ground and that too over the Pacific Ocean, it is cruising at an average speed of 520 mph with a lot of noise. However there was none to object at the noise level of C-5 Galaxy, as to whether it is within the acceptable limit or it is over that limit. Even if it is so, none in the world would dare to do that. There are about 350 persons, a sizable of which are girls, as recruited as nurses, most of which are all afresh, although there are several who are returning after a short holiday. Whether these veterans are aware of their destinations is a million dollar question, yet you are not allowed to talk of it. Most of the veterans are merry-making, i.e., eating, drinking, shouting amongst themselves or singing. Some are listening to the music. A few are watching the film in front of them. All, who are afresh, are just silent and thinking of their uncertain future. Most of them are not joining this merry=making crowd at all. Mervin was looking through the window at the outer sky. The aircraft C-5 Galaxy is cruising at an altitude of about 8 km and that is why none at the ground is perhaps aware of its immense sound level. People have earlier talked of Galaxy, the largest aircraft in the world. This is a matter of pride to USA and mainly to the US Air Force. However what a paradox of life that he has to take a flight in this same aircraft today. When the aircraft took off from the secret air strip, which is midway from Los Angeles & San Francisco, so many friends of several people came to offer temporary farewell to them. That was however a matter of several hours ago. Presently everyone is just content with whatever he can manage to locate him for. At present there is only one humming sound that is coming out of the aircraft jets. Some are deeply engrossed with their thoughts. Some are looking this way and that way vacantly.

 

 

SECRET MISSION OF THIS FLIGHT :-

 

 

All are awaiting the landing of the aircraft. One thing is clear to all of them. This aircraft is carrying some very dangerous ammunition, it is an extremely poisonous chemical warfare and an explosive, which if not properly utilized, it can even kill the creator, like Frankenstein. That is what all of them are worried of and mentally getting prepared for too, although very few are aware of its exact details, as what really it is. Yet they do not have the courage to enquire of it.

 

The aircraft was cruising at its normal speed. It is not supersonic, although it gives off a lot of sound. However sitting in the pressurized cabin, it is not possible to imagine the magnitude or the nature of the sound either.

 

There are two decks within and a massive luggage compartment underneath. In addition to this, a few amphibious vehicles, inclusive to two tanks, which are well equipped with all latest ammunitions, are also put in the lower deck of storage. The aircraft can comfortably carry a total cargo load of about two hundred tons of weight and with that it is designed to fly like that non-stop at a speed of 520 miles per hour across the Continents. Now this particular mission is heading for Far East. The front area of the cargo is loaded with the amphibious vehicles, inclusive to two tanks. The middle area is crowded with the personal belongings of all the passengers. However there is a secret storage space at the behind that is under strict constant vigil since the very start. Some people are after exhuming the actual details, although the security is extremely tight. There is an upper deck, this is occupied by the General of the Flight Mission. In addition to that, several senior officials of the Mission are all parking in that upper deck. The ordinary freshers are not easily allowed to peep in at that place, although it is not that restricted either. In the event any fresher wants to peep in there, he is permitted to do so, under an escort to accompany him or them. So many of the freshers had gone to the upper deck simply out of sheer curiosity.

 

There is just one fresher like him in the lower cabin, near him. He is from Brooklyn too. He is a Puerto Rican, until a few days ago, he was living at New York in search of a living. His name is André Olivencia. He speaks Spanish, although equally fluent in English, with a little soft accent too. Mervin has met him in the pre-flight indoctrination days and they are somewhat friendly. André wanted to peep in to the Upper Deck and he asked Mervin if he would like to join. At last Mervin agreed to accept his call to have a peep in to the Upper Deck. It was a long hall, and with tables & chairs suitable for a conference to accommodate at least twenty five to thirty people. At the end there are several large maps for discussions within the team. These are of the United States of America, the Continent of America, Far East, China, USSR and some other countries. The escort was suddenly called up from some corner and so he left asking them to stay over there. Surprisingly this entire conference hall was empty, although it was evident that there was a meeting a short while ago, which must have been attended by at least fifteen to twenty officials. In the meanwhile, Mervin’s attn. was attracted to some point in one of the maps of the Far East, where there was some marking in red chalk. That was a place near Saigon, as evidences were there over at the table, City map of the town of Saigon was lying haphazardly over the table in an irregular way. Another point was drawing attn. of Mervin was another red circle in the map. That was a little way from that city, just at the periphery of the next country, i.e., Cambodia. Mervin’s curiosity could not get further satisfied as suddenly a senior official came in and casually asked as to who they are. Promptly with salute André replied disclosing with their identities. The gentleman introduces himself as the Lt. General of the flight mission. That means he was the Second in Command of the total mission up here. He was General William Perkins and his boss was the General of this entire flight. General Perkins was a nice person. He originally hails from Albany, a town in the up-state of New York, although he had not gone to his family house since last nine years.

 

 

FURTHER DETAILS OF This SECRET MISSION :-

 

 

As a matter of conversation, General told that they have just concluded after having a high level meeting with over a dozen senior officials in this flight to discuss some significant strategy, in presence of the Sr. General. However he did not disclose the subject of their topic, obviously. Meanwhile the escort came back and with a salute, apologized to General Perkins, since he was called up from some other corner. General accepted it and told that these are his new young friends and so he should take proper attn. to them. General was a friendly man. Just bye the way, he asked as to what Mervin does for his living & what is André doing too, prior to joining this. Mervin explained. André was working with the New York electric supply and he is a technician, having started working a couple of years ago. That inspired him. He immediately called an assistant and directed him to take along André to the electrical switch room, as there was an apparent problem. A few minutes later André returned to tell that it was nothing that complicated and it would take him about twenty to thirty minutes. The general accepted and told his assistant to arrange all tools & tackles as he would feel necessary to work with. “Get the job done, that too immediately” he wanted too.

 

“So young man, certainly you are cursing all of us, including the U.S .Defense Dept. for taking you all the way here, from the University classroom ! Even if you do not agree with me at present, that is the feeling that we can read in your mind. “ It was an unpleasant silence with Mervin for a while.

 

However Mervin has a good sense of humour. So he decided to take shelter under that. So he made certain simple jokes and humors, starting with nothing, which pleased the General apparently. Mervin very cunningly attempted to get the details of the destination and the mission of the flight. However the General was smart enough to realize that. He politely rebuffed that it was not possible for him to disclose that. At that point André returned after completing the assignment, for which the General thanked him a lot and later directed the escort to take them down after some refreshments.

 

They had to come down. While coming down, André told that he overheard that the flight’s destination is somewhere in the Far East and some place near the border of Cambodia. He also intimated that he has also overheard that there is a dangerous weapon, rather a nuclear weapon within the rear area of the fuselage cargo, which is so dangerous that it can destroy a good part of the world, if not utilized properly. There are only two gunners for that within this aircraft. Out of them one is Prof. Albert Johnson and his assistant Prof. James Sparachio. Since Prof. James was also a Spanish young man speaking the same language as that of André, he made good friends with him quickly. However these are all Defense top secrets. What difference does it make, whether he is friendly with Mervin or not. So they came down to the lower deck and took their seats. André decided to change the seating and managed to come closer to Mervin’s seat. Finally he succeeded and came just next to him. Surprisingly a few minutes later André noticed that Prof. James Sparachio came down too and took a seat two rows ahead of them. So it was the turn for André to come closer to James and introduced him to Mervin. He was also an ex-student from the University of Columbia from the Dept. of Electronics and he later specialized in activated remote control system. This included remote control system for rocket propulsion. He eventually joined the U.S. defense and they are experimenting in the field of remote activation of explosives, with or without detonating fuses at present. This particular mission is also an item, involving a lot of his experiment. He strongly insisted to the authorities initially prior to commencing the flight, that his research was not complete, although due to the insistence of his senior Prof. Albert Johnson, he had to make haste in this mission. At the back of his heart he was not thus feeling comfortable at all. He was always hesitating and rather appeared much too restless. His main apprehension was that his research was not complete.

 

A few minutes later some security from the top deck came and called him up. As if they hauled up that gentleman to the top deck. Very surprising. He just was having a conversation with Mervin and André. In fact apparently he was interested to relax further with these new friends of his. Meanwhile some refreshments were served to the mass and that kept them somewhat engaged for the next fifteen minutes. Interestingly at one corner of the hall, there was a cellar for a lot of drinks within, although very few from the hall of the lower deck was interested in any of those.

 

 

SUDDEN TROUBLE IN THE SKY :-

 

 

Mervin was making an attempt to relax further in his seat, by way of reclining his seat. André however just pinched him and drew his attn. to the other end of the lower deck’s gangway. Either of noticed that James virtually came walking very fast and without noticing any of them just opened the upper overhead locker of his and took out the toolbox. It was fairly clear and visible from here. He took this one, then the next item & then the third and later decided to take the entire toolbox with him and virtually ran to the upper deck. Very surprising ! These two new friends kept on looking at him, then at each other’s faces vacantly. After another about twenty minutes later, James virtually came running in this gangway of the lower deck and threw himself to open up the upper overhead locker. Apparently he did not get what he was after, at least that is what he looked like.

 

At that point of time, these two new friends walked up to him and volunteered to help him, if in any way feasible. James was momentarily glad at it. However the next moment he came back to his senses and with apology mixed with gratitude, excused himself and kept searching something in his entire load of lockers & cases. After a short interval of five minutes, he yet did not get what he was after. In an extreme haste he ran once again towards the top deck.

 

These two new friends were totally confused at this sudden development, which took place within the aircraft in the last few minutes. They finally returned to their own seats, since there was nothing for them to do immediately. Further their experience and knowledge in such a subject is very meager. Although in the back of their mind, either of them was wondering as to what it was. Something somewhere is wrong, this is something their intuition is telling them, although not certain about it. They could smell the trouble, although they had no clue, as to what in reality it is.

 

 

SOME FURTHER TROUBLE :-

 

 

A short while later James returned running through the gangway up his seat, threw him into the seat. His was an aisle seat, which means by the passage or the walkway. He was looking in fact extremely exhausted and very pale. Rather very very pale.

 

Coolly, André & Mervin walked up to him and stood next to him. James possibly did not notice them even. He was so engrossed with his own problem, he kept sitting like that, until André just touched him. Suddenly he came back to his senses, once he noticed them and just burst into tears. They started feeling very embarrassed at this sudden untoward development from someone, whom they have met just a short while ago and who is already a very efficient Air Force official, much senior to either of them.

 

However as a matter of human fellow-feeling Mervin touched his shoulder, although it increased his intensity of tears too. Others noticed it, although most of them did not take it seriously. They thought it was nothing but some ecstasy of his feelings for the members of his family.

 

James suddenly got up and asked either of them to follow him. He straightway ran to the gangway towards the upper deck, pushed the security at the entry gate of the deck and forced them in too. The security just a short while ago escorted these two, yet was surprised at such a manner exhibited from James. Of course James had the permission to reach anywhere due to the nature of his duties.

 

In the middle of the hall, at the Conference Table General Perkins was sitting with a very grim face and as soon as he noticed him, started shouting at James. He was surrounded with several officials and all of them started abusing James, without allowing him to talk even. At some point of time, once their heat was exhausted James explained as to what had happened. The first thing what James explained was, that was not his fault. He calmly explained that they could kill him, if they would want to do so, although the fault was not his. The entire fault was of the ground supervisory staff at that air base. Either they made certain mistake by not noticing it or it was some result of their inherent inefficiencies. That started another hue & cry within the hall. Suddenly General Perkins noticed these two youngsters. He stopped and immediately shouted others to stop. At once the order was followed. General politely but strongly enquired as to what is it that they are here after again. It was James, who accepted that it was him, who had brought them here.

 

General Perkins apparently did not like this at all. He expressed his dissatisfaction that they were discussing serious matters and at that point an intrusion form a couple of freshers was not up to his liking. James objected, since he took them up. To that the General shouted and asked them to get to the lower deck. André & Mervin just turned back to obey his order to come down, they heard that James was arguing with him “Sir, at this point of life & death, you never can say who is there to help you !”.

 

To this either of them stood turning towards the General. However the General was a smart officer and he quickly managed the situation and advised them to go down to their place in the lower deck too. They started coming down. While descending, they could distinctly hear that the General was telling that at this moment of crisis, if that creates a panic, it will be devastating in the interest of all of them. They came to their own places on the lower deck and took their respective seats, although neither of them could forget the conversation that took place in the upper deck jus a few minutes ago. Surprisingly there were over three hundred people in this lower deck, apparently undisturbed of such incident. They were relaxing as if nothing extraordinary had happened so far. It was a period of top anxiety and restless feeling for two of them. Either of them was sitting silently, excepting looking at each other, with every bit of any sound coming from any other corner, As if they were extremely alert. Well, of what ! They had no idea too. André got some further snacks for himself and Mervin & just touched him to awaken him up. Mervin woke up with a surprise, in fact he was all awake. Honestly neither of them was feeling at al hungry.

 

Suddenly they noticed that James was rushing towards them. James came back to his seat and sat with a deep sigh as if there is nothing for him to do any further. He looked very pale, as if entire blood from him is sucked out by some vampire. André & Mervin stood next to him, without touching him. Yet he did not move or give any sign of noticing them either. “ Must be crazy”- André went back commenting, although Mervin kept standing next to him for a few more minutes. Mervin could feel that it was not so, as there is something that James wanted to express, though he cannot. James was awake, very much awake, since he was surrounded with his own problems and thoughts arising out of that. That was right. Suddenly James stared with a whispering tone to Mervin. They are in a big problem as he kept talking. The fuel supply from the tank that aircraft is having has developed some problem, as a matter of which the trouble has come up. Mervin asked as to what is nature of this trouble. In fact he answer is obvious. James told not to open his mouth as that will create a tremendous panic within the people, which might result in a catastrophe for the entire aircraft. In reply to Mervin’s enquiry as how did it happen, James started unfolding his analysis of this incident.

 

Normally the fuel is loaded & stored in the aircraft in the fuel tanks. The tanks do not have any fixed position, as several aircrafts have different places in their aircrafts. Even the same aircraft manufacturing company might adopt different places for the fuel storage. Some stores in the undercarriage of the fuselage, some within or underneath elevators or ailerons in the aircraft. However this aircraft is indeed a long distance flyer and thus normally is supposed to carry a lot of fuel, sufficient for a flight of many many hours. In fact this flight is scheduled to fly non-stop for a period of about fifteen to sixteen hours. The first stop for re-fuelling is at Manila in the Philippines. That means we have since crossed about four to five hours of flight from the USA and at least another eleven hours of fuel is supposed to be there. However due to the problem in the fuel tank, they apprehend that they might no be able to fly for eleven hours at all. It could even be less.

 

Mervin enquired as to how far can we fly ! Their conversation went like this for a while :-

 

“Well it is not so easy to ascertain, as the trouble arising out of the fuel tank is just detected and if that is so, they are attempting to shift the fuel from that tank to the other tank which has so far supplied fuel and thus can accommodate some storage space within that. For that there is a system of transferring this fuel from one tank to the other storage”.

 

“What is there, if that is difficult for transferring too”. 

 

“Well there some other means, we are to adopt, that they will decide”.

 

“Who do you mean - they !”

 

“They mean the Pilot, Co-pilot, the Navigators and similar others.”

 

“How many such are there and where are they !”

 

“They mean : there are a total of 1 Pilot, 1 Co-Pilot, 2 Flight Engineers & 3 Load Masters. They are in the cockpit. It is this lot, who will decide as to how to transfer and to what extent.”

 

“What if they are unable, due to some uncertain factors !”

 

“Normally that does not happen, yet everything is possible in this planet.”

 

“What do we do under such a circumstance !”

 

What Mervin could finally gather from this conversation with him is summarized as follows :-

 

The fuel required for this aircraft is called aviation turbo fuel (in short called as ATF). It is something like a kerosene. It has an Octane number of 100. This is an extremely thin fuel. This fuel is normally stored in several places within the body of this aircraft. The average fuel tank capacity in such an aircraft is normally over 100 tons of such liquid. This fuel is specially meant for such high altitude flying, where the temperature is far below the zero degrees Celsius.

Normally fuel supply from the each of the fuel tanks comes to the engine through a fuel pump. This is run after getting energized from a sensor, which gets its impulse to start from the cockpit. The present imbroglio is relating to the fuel supply, which is supposed to arrive in to the engine from the central main tank.

The pilot presses a switch in the cockpit for the fuel supply to commence, whenever it is so necessary. This sends a signal to a sensor. This signal is electronic and it is of the magnitude of 4 to 20 milli amps. This sensor in turn energizes a motor, which runs a fuel pump, which eventually supplies fuel to the turbine engine, as necessary at a regulated manner.

The trouble started at this point of a particular sensor transmitting the signal. As per James, even after pressing the proper switch at the cockpit in several instances, this fuel pump motor is not energized at all to start. James had personally pressed the switch, although the motor is not starting. The alternative is that temporarily the next pump is since energized and it will help the aircraft running for another few hours.  

 

That means after flying for another few hours, if the fuel pump for the main tank does not get energized, the supply of fuel can not come. That means there is no further fuel to fly this aircraft. Then the real trouble starts. The senior pilot admits that it is a fault of the system of electronics, although he has never encountered this type as yet in his whole career. This happens once in a million instances. To him, this is the first instance, which happened just today.

 

 

STARTING OF THE PANIC :-

 

 

Such was the conversation within them, which was suddenly disrupted by an alarm signal for a message from the upper deck. It was the voice of General Perkins that was getting announced. He told over the inter-com announcing system that there is some problem, some technical problem. However there is no reason for panic out of it. This problem is nothing that difficult, as a result of which their flight might have to get shortened and might have to land somewhere else en-route earlier than the schedule.

 

Since he mentioned that there is no reason for panic out of it, panic almost started immediately. Everybody started staring at each other vacantly with a tinge of panic. Although panic has not started that much, yet it is contagious. Once it starts, it keeps spreading. Eventually that is what started within the entire hall of the lower deck of this massive aircraft. Mervin himself was not out of it too. Like any body else, he just kept cool and started thinking as to what to do, if there is anything at all for him to do under such a circumstance. In fact the continuous humming sound of the aircraft, ever increasing whispering signs of panic from all his fellow colleagues and the outer clear sky is what kept him engrossed him with his thoughts.

 

So was the condition of André too. He was equally sitting with a pale face looking vacantly this way & that way and there was no word from him. Most others were just like that. Since they were under strict instructions of discipline, they were all organized and the humming sound was generated from most of them, whilst all of them kept sitting. It is not easy to write as to how long they were sitting like this, without virtually any words, when another alarm signal for a message from the upper deck came audible. It was General Perkins again. He told that it is already over thirty minutes, since my last message. There is an unprecedented snag that arose in the electronic circuitry within the aircraft, as a result of which, our initial programme is getting rather modified. We might have to shorten our journey considerably and later we will wait for an opportunity to fly up again, once we rectify this. He asked everybody to wait for his next message

 

He also, later at the end of his short speech, announced that if there is any person, who is conversant with such electronic circuitry, he or they are welcome to come and get in touch with the flight officials concerned for some remedial action as necessary. Hearing this, a total of seven people got up and eagerly went to the end of the gangway for an access to the Upper Deck. However, surprisingly most of them came with empty looks and the last person retuned after about seventeen minutes. All others retuned within a few minutes. The last person in the name of Tony Sawyers from Cincinnati had worked with a TV shop earlier. He though he was an expert in such electronic circuitry, although he came to senses very quickly. What Tony Sawyers told was that there is a mismatch of the connections, as a result of which the sensor is not getting the proper impulse from the cockpit switch at all. Perhaps, what he thinks, it is due to some loose connection of the wires or the soldering might have given way under such low pressure & low temperature, since all the wires are just grazing the outer skin of the aircraft and there is no access for any individual to reach there. If the aircraft is parked at the tarmac, then it is possible to access that, in order to check & repair. Obviously, the next question is as to what to do at this moment ! There was virtually no answer to that. In fact the answer was far too obvious.  

 

Each and everybody were so engrossed with their thoughts that the humming sound went very low, rather an uncomfortable chapter of silence. Some person, who was fairly conversant with geography, was murmuring that the nearest point of a spot for a comfortable landing is Manila, in the Philippines, an island country in the Continent of Asia. He immediately calculated mentally to arrive at the figure, which it will take at lest another eight to nine hours to reach there, from where they are. In the path they will have to cross the International Date Line prior to that. 

 

 

INTERNATIONAL DATE LINE :-

 

 

What is an international date line. Mervin wants to remember that from his past & recent studies.

The International Date Line (also called as IDL) is an imaginary line, located near & overlapping the line of 180 degrees longitude, which separates the earth between two days. There are other many interesting definitions of this. Some explains it in an interesting way as,” if you straddle the IDL, facing north, and it's 12 midnight of Friday, on the east side (your right foot) and it is 12 midnight of Saturday, on the west side (your left foot)”. The International Date Line (IDL) is in fact plotted on today’s maps or charts and globes to indicate the boundary line in between ‘today’ and ‘tomorrow’. Despite its name, however, the precise location of the International Date Line is not fixed by any international law, treaty or agreement as yet. The discovery of this IDL is an extremely interesting chapter. This was in fact discovered by several circumnavigators. Out of this is rather the most predominant. Mervin remembered that he recently had the opportunity to refer this matter during the course of his thesis from the reference library in their University. Who discovered this. He starts thinking and remembered to have read about it.

 

It was a gentleman in the name of Antonio Pigafetta (c. 1490 - c. 1535), the Italian chronicler of the first circumnavigation of the world by the Portuguese explorer and navigator Ferdinand Magellan (c. 1480 - 1521), who first mentioned a peculiar incident that had occurred during the voyage: somewhere a whole day had apparently been ‘lost’. When Pigafetta, one of the eighteen survivors of the original 270-odd crew members who had set out from the Spanish port of San Lúcar de Barrameda in September 1519, nearly three years later sighted the Cape Verde Islands, he noted :

“On Wednesday, the ninth of July [1522], we arrived at one these islands named Santiago, where we immediately sent the boat ashore to obtain provisions. [...] And we charged our men in the boat that, when they were ashore, they should ask what day it was. They were answered that to the Portuguese it was Thursday, at which they were much amazed, for to us it was Wednesday, and we knew not how we had fallen into error. For every day I, being always in health, had written down each day without any intermission. But, as we were told since, there had been no mistake, for we had always made our voyage westward and had returned to the same place of departure as the sun, wherefore the long voyage had brought the gain of twenty-four hours, as is clearly seen.”

This is how the modern world has come to know about it, i.e., about IDL.

 

 

SO BACK AGAIN TO THE PRESENT :-

 

 

Slowly and gradually there was another type of sound that started coming up. That was of despair from each & every individual of the lower deck. Everyone is apparently getting ready mentally as to what is awaiting them. It is not necessary to for someone to announce. Since the aircraft fuel is finishing fast in the next few hours of so, flying over the vast Pacific Ocean over a few thousand miles away from California, while the nearest landing point is another over two thousand miles away, what extra other thoughts can come to you. Even the choice of getting to the initial airbase was also considered, although it is nearly same distant.

 

Thus it is ruled out too. That means the future is far too obvious.

 

With a plane, that is a pride of the entire country of U.S.A., it is really very shocking, if it develops such a dangerous snag within just two years of its Service Entry (which is 17 December 1969), it is an extremely deplorable matter. James of course strongly objected that it is no fault of the manufacturer, i.e. Lockheed Company. He has a lot of respect for this company and he strongly objects that is certainly & definitely no fault of the company’s. Probably, it is due to some lack of proper knowledge in maintenance of such an aircraft, the snag has come up. It is definitely no fault of the company at all. Eventually several other people slowly joined him too. Some who are knowledgeable about the aircraft, mainly the seniors and others who are having some experience of flying in such or similar aircrafts, started agreeing to that. OK, so what to do right now. Like this another ten minutes have since passed and the crowd are getting unanimous of the fault of the ground maintenance crew engaged in upkeep of the aircraft. James slowly whispered once again, “ So what to do right now. My friends”, he completed staring at Mervin and André in utter despair. That was the silent question with most of them, however the sense of strict discipline had forced them to sit coolly, within strict measures, such that no hue & cry could disturb the pilots, as they are putting in their best to escape any calamity, since that will affect them equally too. This is something James advised them to remember, such that they can concentrate in their task to alleviate this present situation in their own interest. The panic has started and gradually it is gathering momentum for reaching towards its extreme.

 

The panic is far more intensified as the aircraft is having a dangerous missile, and if it is not diffused properly, it will create an unimaginable disaster. Even if it explodes at an unwanted place, it is disastrous. If it falls also in the Pacific Ocean, the saline water will create far more damage. It will no doubt explode, and thus creating a tsunami in all the neighbouring countries. Possibility of contact with saline water is far more risky. This is why all of them have since gathered. That is why all of them are speechless and silently sitting in despair helplessly. The fear of tsunami is something, none of them had experienced as yet, although they have heard and watched the films of that. In that event the world criticism will rise so much, that President R. M. Nixon can not escape that too. The people of America will not under such circumstances even forgive President Nixon either at all.

      

 

WHAT TO DO IN SUCH A CIRCUMSTANCE :-

 

 

Since the fate of virtually all is obvious & the same, everybody is slowly & gradually getting extremely panicked, yet due to their initial indoctrination of discipline, all of them are behaving themselves. Each of them is waiting as to let us wait and watch until the last drop of fuel is there to fly. Further even if there is a land, such a big aircraft might not land so comfortably. Mervin was looking through the window to the outer sky and was thinking of his home and mainly his girlfriend, sweet pretty Sandra. He often called her Sandy, although Sandra does not like that name due to some of their own reasons. He was thinking of his days in New York, mainly since several instances they had walked down the Prospect Park, since his home was closer to that. They were thinking of purchasing a new apartment very soon near there. The Park at present must be full of children all playing, young men playing the game of volley or the base ball at different corners. That middle aged man, vending ice-cream, is perhaps claiming that his ice cream is the most delicious amongst all ice-creams in the world. Some elderly men & women are walking hectically in order to revive their old standards of health. The northeast corner, that has a fountain, is perhaps crowded with kids shouting all rounds in search of the ripples and the adjacent flower garden is certainly an item of young couple’s den, as they want to sit to chat peacefully without getting disturbed from others.

 

Mervin was also thinking of the 42 nd Street, where the famous Grand Central is there. A few months ago, he & Sandra had bought a ticket in here for their maiden trip to the Niagara Falls. The Greyhound coach started exactly at fifteen minutes prior to the clock changing its date and dropped them at the Canadian entry point at about 5.00 next morning. That took nearly an hour to clear the formalities of entry in the Canadian city. They were told that the Niagara Falls is the falls in between the lakes of Erie & Ontario. The American edge is OK, although the other city is far more attractive for the tourist. That is what they did. They went straight to a place called Hamilton, an industrial town in the province of Ontario, where common friends of theirs live. From there they came to the Falls and spent the whole day and later went to his friend’s place. Two days went like that, after which they did a bit of the city of Toronto, went to museum and other places of tourist interest. After a total of three days they came back to the good old Grand Central of New York, to resume their duty again. While thinking, he started reminiscing of his recent holiday at Hawaii too. This is the island state that is so charming and so naturally gifted. It appears that nature has given them so much. This was a dream holiday to them and whosoever had gone there, they all admit that it is a place of a dream holiday to all of them too. He remembered the wide drain at the northwest corner of the runway and how the animal escaped so easily through this drain. He was just assessing as to what happens if a car falls in it.

 

 

A SUDDEN IDEA STRUCK MERVIN LIKE A LIGHTNING :-

 

 

Suddenly he woke up to his super senses and started looking vacantly all around restlessly. “What is if we can manage to take this aircraft in that drain and in the mud manage to ground it I” – he was murmuring within himself. He stood up virtually with a jump, as if a lightning has struck him. Just it is a wild utopian idea perhaps ! However what is the harm in just thinking it aloud. Mervin woke up from his thoughts and asked André as well as Prof. James to join him. In that hall, it was an apparent period of abnormal silence, that was reigning since then. However Mervin did not look at all disturbed. He got up from his seat & with André, came to Prof. James and requested him to escort him to take to General Perkins in the upper deck. None of the other two had the slightest idea as to what he was really after. Has he gone mad, or gone crazy or either ! Rest of the crowd also started thinking the same things of him. In fact his friends, i.e. André & James started thinking so about him seriously. Irrespective of whatever could happen, he virtually dragged either of them along the gangway of the lower deck towards the entry to the upper deck and finally made it there. There was no security at this point. Since most of the passengers have got an idea, as to what is imminent to fate, all have started taking a place to think of so many things.

 

General Perkins was also fused considerably. He looked vacantly at these three young men and just expressed his greetings silently & indicated them to sit. Mervin thanked him and asked for his permission to take him to the map, stuck to the partition in the conference cabin. With utter surprise and disbelief the General accepted his requested and permitted him. Mervin took a chalk, a scale and he started looking for a larger scale.   His friends either had no clue as to what he was really after at that moment, nor did the General either. Meanwhile some other senior officials, in this aircraft, slowly crept in, since they had noticed Mervin coming up. They just crept in getting attracted with the sound. 

 

Mervin asked the General to come closer. The General was so confused at such a point of extreme emergency, that he was not within his senses at all. Mervin however could discover a large stick lying at a corner of this conference room and holding it as a large scale, he asked the General to permit him to ask as to what is the destination for the mission. The General indeed was so bewildered and more surprised, at a situation like this, that he did not have any language to offer. What is it, some type a practical joke at this moment of crisis. However he just told the name of a place, which he himself explained as the town in the Far East bordering Cambodia.

 

“Sir Cambodia is fairly a large country, isn’t’ it”. The General agreed. “Will you please permit me to ask you to please point out as to where exactly are we at present. Suppose if we join a line from the airbase from where we took off near L.A., assuming that aircraft is moving straight, the line is drawn here. Now please point out as to where we are exactly at present. 

 

“What the hell are you after young man !” asked someone loudly from the rear. The General looked at him. He was the Co- Pilot. His name was Roger Summerfield. The General called him, “Hey Roger, can you please help this idiot with an answer to his question, what the hell this guy is really after at this moment !”

 

Anyway Roger came and started explaining that it is just not a straight line for the path of the aircraft. It is somewhat curved, concave northwards. He agreed to draw very lightly in the map itself. Since he is also the Co-pilot, he was fairly aware as to what is the exact latitude or what is the longitude, the aircraft is at present. Looking at the map, Mervin wanted as to how far he is from Hawaii. His murmuring was audible to the first row of the spectators. Amongst them were Roger and The General himself. Either of them just announced that is over eight hundred miles away from Hawaii. Neither of them was able to grasp a drop as to what Mervin was really after, until a few moments later.

 

“Sir, well if we take the aircraft to Hawaii, then how long it will take !” Mervin asked with a subtle smile. That irritated either of them, much more than a surprise.

 

“Young man, we do appreciate your sense of humour. Well what the hell you are getting to tell us !” shouted the General. He was getting so irritated of Mervin. All others started shivering at the volume of his voice, including Roger. So many had since assembled near the entry of the conference hall, out of sheer curiosity.

 

“Sir”, came the polite cool reply from Mervin, “we are only interested, if it is possible to take the aircraft to Hawaii. Then all the matter will get solved.” The General, Roger and all others were stunned as to what the hell this young man is really after, at this point of crisis. Has he gone crazy or mad or either ! 

 

“Well it is possible to take it to Hawaii. Well, what the hell for shall we take it over there, let me ask you. We are not going there for a holiday there or enjoy a drink or dance with the local girls in that place. Are you ! “

 

“Yes, Sir, you certainly can, after we have a landing there. It will however certainly not prove at all a smooth landing, instead a rough landing. Possibly it is the worst landing that you have experienced so far. However, excuse me once gain please, you have not answered my first question as yet please. How long it will take us to reach Hawaii, from where we are at the present moment !” The General looked at Roger too.

 

“At this speed that we are cruising at the moment, it will take over an hour & thirty minutes.” -Roger replied in sheer disgust. “However we can possibly make it faster and improve another twenty & odd minutes out of that. Well what the hell for are we to do that ! ”.

 

“Then let us get to Hawaii and we will attempt to land there.” In fact no one could just believe their own ears even, as to what they are hearing from this crazy young man here. Mervin appeared extremely firm in his polite yet tough reply to him. ” There is a way out, although it is tough, very very tough for all of us. Let me explain you as to how. Please come closer to me.”

 

To everyone’s surprise, Mervin asked all of them to assemble near the conference table as it had a wider top to explain as well as draw.

 

 

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE ! :-

 

 

Mervin sounded cock sure in his stern approach and firmness of his deliberations to them. The General himself was immensely startled with astonishment at this stern attitude of this little fellow’s. He suddenly perhaps saw the light at the end of the tunnel. He lowered his voice and asked Mervin to explain as to how that is feasible.

 

He cautioned him, “if it crashes even at the ground, then the missile will certainly explode and that is it, the end of all of us here and within a radius of two thousand miles”. These words suddenly slipped out of his mouth these. “Further to the extent we are aware, the runway of Hawaii is very short for such a huge aircraft to land there. Did you think of that”. 

 

“Yes, sir, this is what my plan is like here”.

 

Mervin was aware of it too. As a matter of their recent holidays at Hawaii, Mervin was aware that there are two airports. These are Kona and Hilo International airport. Kona is tiny, where as Hilo is somewhat larger, with a lot of other amenities. Their holiday resort, where they had spent few days very recently, was very close to the second airport in that place. Mervin posed as if he is a lecturer in his University classroom in the city of New York for a few minutes. He told others to keep their mouth shut. He also requested the General to keep the door of the conference hall closed. The General ordered so. Mervin with a chalk explained at the map that if the plane comes to the airport of Hawaii, it normally would come from the direction of South and starts descending towards the north. This is so, since for all aircrafts, Mervin had noticed, the landing is rather effective against the wind.

 

Roger agreed.

 

“Then it will take normally at least two miles to come to a halt. Isn’t it, Sir”! Mervin threw the question to Roger & the General too.

 

Roger agreed.

 

“Then this is the starting point of our Mission Impossible, Sir”, Mervin announced, as if he was giving a classroom lecture and all others were just his obedient pupils.

 

 

HOW TO ACHIEVE THIS MISSION IMPOSSIBLE   :-

 

 

Mervin started disclosing his plan. He drew a rough sketch of airport of Hawaii in a paper and explained them & told of the existence of a very wide drain at the northern periphery of this airport of Hawaii. He roughly drew its location vis-à-vis the runway maintaining the geographical north & south.. If the pilots of the aircraft can manage to steer the aircraft to this drain, the front wheels will get stuck in the mud and due to sheer thrust of the engine, since most likely it will not stop as until then, its tail will rise high ups in the sky and it will not crash, since the ground is rather marshy. There are, as Roger told earlier, a total of twenty eight wheels. Out of these first ten are under the nose. The rest eighteen are under the fuselage. That means the impact has to get somehow transferred to the raising of the fuselage, when the nose gets stuck in the soft mud of the drains. For that a risk is there. The aircraft has to get lowered at a considerable speed as low as possible to achieve. Then we will tell the ground authorities, to spread as much of water as possible in the drain, so that its is really wet and sticky. Once that is achieved, the final task is to land the aircraft at the airport runway, not exactly in a straight line, rather a bit an angle of ten to fifteen degrees from the center line of the other end of its runway. If it is within an angle of ten to fifteen degree, then it is possible to reach that drain, although the last five hundred meter is just turf, instead of a proper tarmac runway.

 

The General heard the entire thing with great interest, like all others in the room. The General then ordered everyone that this should not leak out at all.  He ordered also that no one else from this room without his next permission should leave the room. Then he asked Roger straightway how far that is practical to achieve, as Mervin tells.  

 

Roger politely requested him to call his senior, the Pilot, Flt. Capt. Andrew Gardner. Andrew was also immediately called by the General and he came within just a couple of minutes. The General briefed him of the entire incident in presence of Mervin, Roger & others. Mervin’s two friends, i.e., André & Mervin were spellbound and did not have to utter a single word. So was the state of all others in the entire room. Even Andrew just could not believe this apparently impossible idea at all.

 

“Sir”, Mervin suggested further, “if in the interest of landing, if it is necessary to drop out some of the luggage from the under carriage, let us do that”.

 

Andrew agreed. He added “it is a genuine sensible idea, although this is perhaps not necessary. That is the efficiency of the landing system is a function of the landing gear, type of the runway, direction & velocity of the wind and similar factors. The live load as kept in the undercarriage is not a very crucial factor in this, although thanks to Mervin for his suggestion like that”.

 

He would opt for it, if it appears so necessary and then asked for opinion from the mass. André & Mervin came out at first to agree to that. Later so did all of them. Then the General told as to start this vital movement for the first instance, as time at such a crucial moment is precious. He wanted to get in touch with Pentagon and wanted to excuse himself just for a few minutes. However prior to going to the communication room, he ordered Mervin, Andrew to get into the cockpit, while the rest of the crowd is to wait there. Roger had left already.

 

 

ACTION IN THE SKY :- 

 

 

Next one to two hours was witnessing some extraordinary unprecedented action in the sky. In fact no pilot will dare to fly or land any aircraft in this fashion, or will plan to do so in their life time at all. This is an extraordinary situation of extreme emergency.

 

The General’s voice was heard once again in the aircraft’s overhead intercom system. “We are planning to descend and it is an emergency type of landing in the next one hour or so, starting any minute.. Please do not get up from your seat, unless very essential and preferably keep seating tightly without any movement. Read all the instructions for such an emergency landing and do as is instructed in it. Please wait for my next instruction to follow.” 

 

The cockpit was ready for a mini mid-air fight with the above people. This tiny room is already crowded. Presently it is packed with all the flight crew, together with Mervin. At this moment, the General joined too. He took the middle seat in between the pilot and the copilot. And in that little space, Mervin somehow squeezed in that, allowing very little space for anyone to move even. Meanwhile Andrew & Roger were continuously keeping contact with Hawaii as per Pentagon’s instructions, as received through the General. Often General was also communicating with Pentagon, mainly with the Chief Secretary of Defense, keeping him apprised of the latest.

 

Just over an hour later, Hawaii was noticeable from the cockpit. Mervin’s nerves went all alert. He whispered to the General, let us take to Hilo airport, as we apprehend we are heading towards Kona airport. “Yes, indeed”, Roger agreed.” In our flight path, we will get Kona at first and then we cross over to come to the next”. That is what exactly happened too. Mervin from the sky could identify that it was nearing the Hilo airport. When it came much near, Mervin was asked to fasten his seatbelt. However there was nothing like that for him. The General most willingly loosened his seatbelt and accommodated Mervin within that too. So there were four of them in the very first row. 

 

The General once again announced through the aircraft system that “we are about to land any moment. Please get seated and follow the instructions for emergency landing meticulously”.

 

 

ACTION PACKED DRAMA IN THE SKY :-

 

 

When the runway came within visible approach, the General asked him to point out as to where the drain was. Mervin was getting nervous too. He in fact shouldered such an immense responsibility that none of his colleagues here could dream of it, neither even most of his countrymen could. He started shivering. The General realized it and started patting him with affection and rather inspired that such a responsibility he himself had never shouldered in his thirty-five years’ career in air-force since joining either. The runway started coming nearer every minute, rather every second of it. At one point, it was so near that Mervin could notice even the spot of the drain, later the point through which the wild animal fled away. He asked as to how to point it to Andrew or Roger, since the point was vertically underneath the cockpit.

 

“Don’t worry, we have an electronic periscope, through which we could even spot a cat underneath. Just click the switch and the arrow will indicate here in front of us”.

 

Mervin was surprised at it. This was the most sophisticated aircraft of the date with all modern features of technology within it. Mervin any way without thinking much of it started concentrating towards the spot.

 

The spot was magnified in the computer in front of them. Mervin had to point out the exact point, although since the aircraft was flying at such a high speed, that it was not possible for him to spot it. Andrew & Roger realized it. They managed to take a turn and started once gain locating the same spot with a much reduced speed. This instance, since the speed was low, it was easily possible for him to locate the drain. However prior to telling or indicating one of these two pilots, the aircraft flew past over that. So this is the third instance, with an even lower speed to cross. He was so excited that he just shouted as soon as he had noticed the drain far away with that electronic periscope. He forgot momentarily that he was within the most sophisticated aircraft of the world, called Galaxy and next to him sitting was a very high ranking Air Force official, their General. He instantaneously pointed it in the computer monitor and it was reflected in that too.

 

Roger agreed and he told that could spot it too, although neither the General nor Andrew could notice of it. With the permission of the General, then Roger reversed the aircraft to fly re-tracing in the reverse direction, as if he was drawing a straight line from the point of the drain to the other end of the runway. He lowered the speed, came down further & then started flying even against the wind to assess the exact angle of their proposed descent from the other corner. He intimated Andrew & the General that this spot of Mervin’s drain is at an angle of 7 degree, thirty-eight minutes twenty-five seconds, when measured from the center point of the other end of the runway, in order for them to start their descent. Roger asked for the General’s permission to start their historic descent.

 

The General with utmost eagerness granted him permission to do so and advised Andrew that he also should take equal responsibility. Andrew has since located it and for his experience of flying this aircraft sine the month it came into service, he took charge and told Roger to work him with equal efficiency. That is needed for such a historic emergency landing. Meanwhile down in the ground, they could notice a huge crowd was piling up and aimlessly moving here & there. Probably most of them were not exactly aware as to what was happening and what exactly are they supposed to do at such an instance. Further instruction was announced from the cockpit to the Hawaii airport ground control immediately. Some appreciable changes stated getting noticeable from the crowd in a few minutes. 

 

Mervin was aware of the geography of this airport reasonably well. He could notice that several fire engines were ready and several police van were ready too. He suddenly reminded Roger to instruct them to keep the drain fairly wet, as the intensity of the initial impact is to get absorbed from the wet surface in this drain to start with. Roger instructed immediately so. However the crew at the ground took a lot of time to have an idea of the actual spot. In fact they were never aware of the existence such a spot in their lives as yet, thus as a result of that they kept wetting the entire drain immensely. However in such a condition of extreme emergency, one thing is there for all of them. They were acting pretty fast as per the instruction from the aircraft up in the sky, getting relayed to the ground through the airport control as to what to do under such a circumstance.  Roger also meanwhile instructed that the turf has to remain dry, as far as possible, as other wise the co-efficient of friction from the ground to offer to the wheels will come lower. Otherwise it is difficult for the aircraft to land as per their planning at all. It is always desirable to have some ground friction, as otherwise the ground will get so slippery, that the tyres of the aircraft will not get a grip of the surface. In fact the tarmac offers a normally standard friction, whereas the turf’s friction is far low compared to that. Roger had a quick calculation, as to with the available co-efficient of friction, what is the speed of descent and how much space will it consume while coming to some halt. Well it is not expected to halt, somewhat at a very low speed as discussed above. 

 

That was carried out too immediately, as per the confirmation received from the Hawaii airport ground control immediately.

 

 

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE - ACHIEVED :-

 

 

So now starts their historic descent. The General was somewhat getting nervous, like Mervin. And so was Andrew too. However Roger was not. Since from the very first moment, he was talking with Mervin, he was very confident. In fact the confidence with him was appreciable & extraordinary. Normally while landing, even in the most critical instance of landings, he keeps himself engrossed with a mild whistle. To the utter surprise of each, Andrew noticed that Roger has already started whistling here too. That means he is within his self established standards and norms. Things are very much within his control, as it appears at present. That was a great item of relaxation for Andrew, although the General was not at all so. 

 


Since the aircraft was at this instance flying very low encircling the sky over Hawaii for a while, entire residents of Hawaii were startled at this sudden loud sound. Virtually people from every corners of this city near the airport were curious, as to what was suddenly happening, although none of them was having a clue to it ! Some people came out of their houses, so many holiday makers flocked to the open air, as if it is an outcome of a natural calamity, others simply came out of sheer curiosity.

 

Andrew objected mildly. He advised that it is a wise idea to have trial flights to ascertain that exactly we are just over at the desired spot. Let us align ourselves for the final stage rehearsal. Otherwise there is no opportunity for an action replay. The General agreed to that. Although Roger feebly started grumbling, the General advised him and politely told him to do so. So he did. The penultimate run over the slightly inclined approach had in fact exactly took them over at the spot of the drain. That is something Mervin, even with his little idea of aircraft, at once certified too. They did this at two or three times, in order to ascertain that they are absolutely right.

 

So here starts the final historic descent. As per their initial planning, the aircraft reduced speed to a very low figure. Andrew constantly kept telling that it was OK, OK. Then they started their standard aircraft descending language with the Hawaii airport ground control authority, like “Roger, Roger” and similar things. The speed is gradually diminishing low and the altitude is so low that it is possible to locate even the humans. It came descending further, even further just a few meters above the tarmac to touch even. With an unbelievable tremendous thundering sound, the aircraft finally touched the tarmac, although it is not yet the end of the game. The massive 350 Ton machine finally, as loud as if a million growling tigers, came roaring towards the drain, as if it is going to crush the entire earth with its extreme anger.

 

So it did, as it appeared to all others from out of the aircraft. Each was wondering what in earth is that getting drifted from the runway towards the turf. Their imagination could not proceed further since in less than a minute, the undercarriage comprising all the ten wheels under the nose, got entrapped in the wet open drain and the very next moment it jumped up with an insurmountable jerk, although momentarily, since the next moment its wheels got stuck in the wet soil in the drain as grounded there. The very next moment, in order to protest against such a sudden halt age, the rear fuselage absorbed an immense shock & displayed it with a lift. The tail which is T – type got lifted high up in the sky. The rear fuselage rose over 30 degree from the horizontal and then finally with a thundering sound came back to the ground, deflating sixteen out of eighteen tyres of the wheels.

The tyres in fact got deflated as if these exploded all together, with a thundering noise. It went up & down a few times, until the entire impact was finally absorbed in it.

 

The entire town virtually came to a halt for a few minutes. Even the animals all round were startled at it. The entire fuselage started vibrating tremendously, as if it is getting close to its natural frequency of vibration, although it did not. A few seconds or a minute later it stopped finally with a violent jerk, shaking all its components and finally developing a large crack in the lower area of the undercarriage. The aircraft came to a final halt. The end of a journey is, much to the surprise of the entire world and mainly of U.S.A. officials, finally was coming to an end like that.

 

With that jerk, that was equally perceivable in the cockpit, the General’s seatbelt got torn and he was thrown upwards to hit the ceiling of the cockpit and got considerably hurt. Mervin was also injured, although since he was mentally prepared with this magnitude, this impact was much less. Except Roger, all others in the cockpit was somewhat injured in this. Well it is still not the end of the game. The engine was still running at a very considerable speed with loud noise and thrust. Due to such an impact, the sensor to stop all these engines stopped functioning. Virtually Andrew came to his senses and since Roger was holding the steering & power brake very firmly, at his signal, Andrew one after the other kept putting the engines off manually. Unless the engines are stopped, the doors will not open. So now it is the time to open the doors too. Another problem is there. Since the aircraft is parked with its tail still high up in the sky at an elevation of thirty degrees to the horizontal, the doors will not open. It is another mild problem. So the emergency doors, two in numbers, were manually opened too, with a ladder for emergency. Even the emergency ladder was not that large enough to touch the ground at all. It ended about two meters up from the turf. It is already three storey high above the ground. First came out Andrew, then the General. All the officers down at the turf & tarmac saluted him at first. Through another portable ladder an outlet from the massive machine was made eventually possible in the course of ten minutes and one after the other each had disembarked.

 

So it was a great historic gathering at the turf. Each started embracing the other as if they have got their second lives. In a few minutes from then, the General addressed the mass and all the passengers & ground officials got assembled at one place. He narrated the entire incident in short, amidst a lot of photographs, introduced the shy Mervin to the mass and admitted that, that all of them got their second lives was just due to this single man. Incidentally he quickly went to the rear to check that the explosive is undisturbed as yet. He called the local Defense authority and told them to take charge of it as per their Federal Law. 

 

Lot of applauds came for Mervin, so many people took his photograph, even a local TV cameraman with his assistant came for an interview. The same evening in the national news channel, photograph of the General. Andrew, Roger, André, James and finally Mervin were presented with a live interview of all the people came for the general public. General Perkins openly admired that in spite of his initial heckling, for which he openly apologized to Mervin in front of the camera, how Mervin was so steady and steered the country from such a national disaster in the interest of the mankind of the world society. He said that his praise is not enough for the contribution that Mervin offered for the country and the second life to all others in the aircraft, including himself and what he contributed for all others to escape an international disaster, in the event this disaster took place. He announced that he will recommend Mervin to receive the next national award, which is a matter of immense national prestige.

 

The mini reception was soon over and ultimately, the General and all others were taken to several hotels in the town at Federal cost as Federal Govt.’s guests. Security was immediately arranged at that corner of the airport and it was agreed that next morning, they will arrange to dispatch this dangerous explosive under strict Defense security measures.  Mervin could somehow manage to talk to Sandra, although she did not watch the TV as until then. She had later watched and called him again.

 

In fact General Perkins also went with them to his actual destination to the same hotel, where he, Andrew, Roger and Mervin were to stay for the day.

 

A few days later Mervin was called up and had to also leave for his initial destination, with virtually all his new colleagues. Amongst them were also his old friends André & James. Each embraced him once again. So that is it. His life at the regiment in the Far East started as per his initial schedule as per the Federal Govt.’s initial planning.

 

 

ALL IS WELL, IF IT ENDS WELL TOO :-

 

 

So life started for Mervin at their base camp in the Far East. The super explosive, which was saved by the team, is again brought over here in this camp through another aircraft carrier and with normal extreme precaution kept somewhere. The General was initially here for just a few days and then he went away. Prior to his departure, he called for Mervin, and advised him, in presence of the local officer-in-charge as for all the “do’s & don’ts” and advised him to follow his instructions meticulously in respect of all movements of his. The place is, climate-wise tropical -equatorial climate, mostly cloudy & damp and you get a bright crystal clear day very less comparatively. The land at that place is also mostly marshy. He did not much interaction with the local people as yet, except that there are some officers in their regiment, who are locals. Their food is mainly some preparation of local rice & fish. The people are apparently simple too.

 

Another couple of weeks later, Mervin was called up to the chamber of his local officer-in-charge at their regiment at that secret base camp, in the afternoon hours after their work for the day was over. To his utter surprise, he could from a distance identify the presence of his old friends i.e., André & James. Surprise came at its top, when he noticed that in the central chair was sitting General Perkins. General greeted him and gave him an envelope. He shouted in his normal way, “Open it young man, there is a surprise for you”. Mervin was very nervous. He gradually opened it. He noticed that there is a letter advising him, that since he did such a wonderful thing for the nation as well as the world, the Federal Govt. is gladly approving him to return to New York with immediate effect and to report to the local office at Manhattan just once every month for the next thirty months, for which he will continue getting his normal salary every month. Of course, he is free to return to his normal life of an average citizen and continue his research and marry to live a happy married life, after or even prior to that, without any obligation to the Dept. of Defense, as a normal Civilian. He noticed each & everybody were in smiles. A similar letter was also offered to his friends André & James. Since they were so instrumental to Mervin, in their overall epoch-making adventure, each of them also received a similar honourable facility. All of theirs return flight to New York from here is scheduled for starting tomorrow morning. They were about to leave the room. General Perkins shouted once again to them. “Wait a minute all of you. Take these too.” He gave each an envelope with a wider smile. Each of his two friends, Mervin noticed, was much nervous to open that and that is why they started hesitating. The General with this natural highly audible voice told them to open these, as there is nothing for them to get panicked about it. They did so and to their utter surprise, they noticed that there is a cheque for each of them, an ad-hoc cheque of $ 5, 000 each in the envelope. Mervin did not yet open his envelope as yet. “Come on, why don’t you open yours, young man”, shouted the General again. In sheer curiosity, he slowly did so. Just at that moment, momentarily he glanced at the General and noticed that he was in al smiles. Yes, that was a cheque too from the Federal Govt. in Mervin’s name. Mervin’s cheque instead was for $ 50,000. All of them nearly fell to the ground. The General greeted all of them with great affection and invited them as well as others present to join him at the dinner the same evening. He, amidst all talks, reminded Mervin not to forget to invite him & all those present there at his marriage. Mervin agreed with smile mixed with immense gratitude.

 

 RETURN OF MERVIN :-

 

That evening Mervin talked to his father. William said he is already aware of it, since over an hour ago, it was General Perkins has conveyed this news to them. He also added, that the General was much curious about the details of Sandra, as he wanted to give her this news, as a matter of surprise. Thus immediately Mervin asked for another call for Sandra. A few minutes later Sandra’s voice came over the telephone’s receiver end. She was so happy that she was only crying incessantly. She could not stop her crying for several minutes, since she already received the news, courtesy The General.

 

In reply to Mervin’s question, as to whether his friends in the University are aware of the total incident, she said amidst sobbing and also in excitement, “Yes, Prof. Macfarlane is well aware of it, as this entire incident with the edited speech of General Perkins and that of others, since you landed at Hawaii, as it was recorded with the local Hawaiian TV cameraman with his assistant, who came for an interview, is since recorded here in the University campus.” In fact all others in the entire University campus are so aware of this epoch-making incident created by a single man, who was one of their colleagues until a few days ago from this University, that for a few days the only topic of discussion in the canteen, in the corridor or in the lobby, was about Mervin & Mervin. 

 

She added, “In fact Prof. Macfarlane is kind enough to announce that he is planning indeed to arrange a programme for mini reception-cum-felicitation in your honour in the auditorium of the University whenever you return. All of they are much eager to listen the entire details from you. Mind you, lots of people are likely to arrive in this gathering, including several people from the Press too.”

 

Just for Mervin, she has indeed become suddenly so popular, so remarkable too, that the local press is constantly after her asking, rather insisting for an interview with her. It is so embarrassing for her, that she has stopped attending the University lectures since a while. However Prof. Macfarlane is not yet aware of his immediate plan of returning. She asked permission, as to whether she should tell him. Mervin gladly agreed to it.   

 

A couple of days later, when the huge passenger aircraft landed at the Newark airbase, Mervin & all others gradually came out. Meanwhile en-route they had a halt for a day at Frisco and several hours halt at Chicago. That was of no great significance, except change of aircraft. To his utter surprise, he noticed that here again to receive him in the first row, it was General Perkins. How come he is here ! As if he asked himself. Each of them embraced the other. The General explained that he has to present a repot to the authorities at Pentagon and he would like to take Mervin, André, James in person together with Andrew & Roger over there. Tomorrow it’s a weekly off-day. So first thing Monday morning, he will personally come at about ten o’clock, he will come to pick him up at his residence. He already got the direction as how to arrive there from William, Mervin’s father, who is waiting in the crowd to receive him. The entire formalities over there will take a day or two. So Mervin is free to join his old University routine from Wednesday.

 

After coming out of the Defense enclosure, who was the first to come rushing to him ! Isn’t it Sandra James ! She embraced him, still crying. Mervin noticed that Mr. Hubert James, Mrs. James, Mervin’s parents were all there smilingly to receive him and there is Prof. Macfarlane too at one corner with a smiling face.

 

All of them personally came and embraced such a national hero. And at the end of the crowd, obviously there were the people from the Press too. They were meanwhile taking some mini speech from the General. A huge coach was arranged from the authority for them to take to Mervin’s place of residence in the city of New York, which would take over an hour at least. All got up in that huge coach, Sandra taking the seat next to Mervin, still weeping. In the next row were seated Mr. & Mrs. James and Mr. & Mrs. Dowzel too. Some of his friends, who came to receive him, started singing some national song loudly in the coach and surprisingly the Press people cheerfully joined them too.     

 

THEIR MARRIAGE AT LAST :-

 

The next chapter is nothing so descriptive although for Mervin it was eventful. He joined the University as per the schedule, i.e., Wednesday. In Prof. Macfarlane’s programme he, amidst felicitation, euphemistically explained the details in brief. He expressed his gratitude to Sandra, as it was Sandra, who gave him the idea of such a holiday a few months ago at Hawaii. He also conveyed his sincere heartfelt gratitude to the Hawaiian couple, i.e., Lisa and Alberto, as it was this couple, who indeed led to that large drain while chasing that wild animal, whose existence the people was totally unaware of. The Press people kept recording all these and asked for the details of this couple.

 

The date of Mervin & Sandra’s marriage was nearing fast. In fact the engagement was earlier over at a modest ceremony in New York itself a few months ago, prior to Mervin’s departure. They were eagerly awaiting the actual date of their marriage. Amongst invitees, Sandra included the names of Prof. Macfarlane and General Perkins and lots of other Professors, Faculty members and colleagues and friends of either’s.

 

Their marriage took place a few months later as per their original schedule. It indeed was well organized in a simple hall in a very modest way, although the gathering was good. Virtually each had attended it. The General was invited as the key-person in the gathering and so far he was chatting with Prof. Macfarlane and their parents. He was introduced to Sandra in a proper way today. Although he spoke to her already, yet he could not identify that day at Newark airbase, amidst so many people. He apologized for that to the young lady immediately. He gave a present to the newly-wed couple in an envelope.

 

 Amidst the good gathering, Mervin had to open it and then amidst a lot of surprise noticed that it was a free return air ticket for each of them to Hawaii and an all-inclusive free stay at some hotel at Hawaii for several days at a stretch. That was an invitation for them to enjoy their honeymoon at Hawaii. The ticket was starting the very next day. Everybody applauded and Mervin & Sandra accepted with a grateful smile.

 

Surprisingly when Mervin and Sandra landed once again at Hawaii, who was there to receive them ! Well it was the same old local girl Lisa with her husband Alberto too. They greeted each other. While they were about to get up in the pre-hired car for them to take to anther holiday resort – cum hotel, there was a pat at their rears. Mervin turned to his rear and to his utter surprise it was General Perkins again. Each embraced the other. He was introduced to Lisa & Alberto in a proper way today. The General was aware of the incident of chasing the wild animal and expressed his gratitude as it was she, who virtually indirectly saved such a calamity of the country and eventually the entire mankind. For this the Nation will remember her. Then the General introduced his wife to Mervin & Sandra, to Lisa & Alberto too. General Perkins had also come with his family for a holiday together with Mervin & Sandra and they are scheduled to stay at the same hotel too. General Perkins also invited Lisa & Alberto, in addition to Mervin & Sandra to join for a dinner in their hotel that evening, where they are scheduled to stay for holiday too.

 

“Well now my duty is to ascertain that no one should disturb this newly married couple” – General announced loudly. Everyone also laughed loudly at it. 


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