A drink for the soul!

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic
This a story about a Flight Lieutenant in Indian Air Force and his fight with his guilt.

Submitted: September 10, 2012

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Submitted: September 10, 2012

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Cutting off my nerve. Bleed to death. Too painful. Rejected.
Hanged from the ceiling fan. Tongue comes out while dying. Frightening. Rejected.
Poison. I could not eat ‘Karela’. How would I drink poison? Rejected.

I would rather die doing something I love.

To fly. That’s what I love. And so I, Flight Lieutenant Anuj Raheja was here. On the rooftop of a ten story building. The Kitchen and the catering facility of AFA (Air Force Academy). Sitting on the parapet with my legs hanging out and my hands fidgeting with the beer bottle. I was already four bottles down, enough to give my thoughts a philosophical touch. In last few years this place has seen the best of my life, now it was going to witness my worst. My death.

How does it feel to get thrashed against the floor? I wondered.

I almost imagined myself jumping off the rooftop and getting my skull smashed against the floor. I felt a chilling sensation running down my spine as if the water droplets were having a formula one race on the topsy-turvy tracks of my back. The thought itself gave me shiver and goose bumps as its by-product.

But the excitement of flying one last time was enough to evade any fear. I recollected my guts and gave it a final thought.

What happens that makes a person’s all fears overshadow his zest to live. When actually a person decides to commit suicide?

When he’s broken from within and his dreams have been shattered. When he could not gather enough courage to fight back his fears. And when he losses all hope. I thought.

Yes. I was unable to fight back my biggest fear. The fear of cowardice.

It’s true. When you’re on the verge of dying, your whole life runs backwards in front of your eyes, like a biopic played in reverse mode. The same occurred to me, like someone has played a DVD of my last few hours in front of me. Breezes became mightier as I dived into the flashback.

The jury set in front me. I was facing my General Court Martial proceedings.

‘Flight Lieutenant Anuj Raheja, on the grounds of being found guilty of behaving carelessly, you are being terminated for lifetime from your services of Indian Air Force. Because of your irresponsibility we have lost a budding officer. A special committee is investigating the reasons behind engine failure. Still, your behaviour is unacceptable as a responsible officer of Indian Air Force. You can have your say in your defence, though it’s unlikely that your termination will be revoked.’

‘I don’t have anything to say. I accept my termination. Sir.’

‘Then in that case, you need to leave the facility by tomorrow morning.’ Those were jury’s last words.

It’s a hard feeling to see your honour getting ripped off your shoulders in a matter of seconds when you know that you have earned it with all your might and you deserved it with all your dignity. But then it’s even harder to live with a grudge of your being the reason for someone’s death. And so in that way I was guilty.

I remembered him just before our flight. Cadet Vinay Kulkarni. What a great chap he was. ‘Was’, because of me.

‘So, all set to touch the skies Cadet’ were my first words to him before the flight.

‘Yes sir, but the jet has only one PRS in the front cockpit. Shouldn’t we fly in another jet?’

‘Parachute recovery systems are for kids, Are you a kiddo? And don’t worry chap, I ride my girl like a pro.’ I said to him with a wicked wink.

He just passed a shy smile.

After that I just remember myself crying my vocals out ‘Station, we are hit by a fire in the engine, all controls have stopped working, I am trying for emergency landing but it does not seem possible’.

The jet had gone out of control, and our altitude was decreasing rapidly, in a matter of few seconds we were about to hit the land. I panicked. I could see nothing beyond my life. No other man’s life. Not any moral responsibility. And not even duty.

I guess that was the point where I failed myself. I turned my head half backwards to see Vinay and could only mumble a feeble sorry. He just smiled as he understood what I was going to do. I pressed the PRS button. The front cockpit window flew backwards with a jolt. And I was out of the plane with my parachute opening itself up. I could see the plane leading towards a crash. It crashed with a blow. The explosion was enormous. The sound could be heard even a few kilometres away. And even in my nightmares. In the crash Vinay died and with him my interest to live.

Every single night after the crash was insurmountable for me. I used to roll from one side to the other on my bed in hopes of falling asleep but I could not. How could someone sleep after murdering someone? I was a murderer. Moreover, I was a coward. And I loathed myself for it.

I returned back to my senses. It started breezing heavily. As, the God himself was scolding me for being alive. Even he wanted me dead. I threw the bottle on the roof. It broke with a squeak.

I took out a photo in which Ma & Papa were together. Tears welled up in my eyes and trickled down my cheeks as I imagined my parents crying beside my dead body. I composed myself and prepared to jump. I had a choice to make. At least one of us will have to suffer. Either my parents or me.

And then I made my choice. I jumped.


A snippet from next day’s newspaper read:

“A Flight Lieutenant of the Indian Air Force was found unconscious on the rooftop of the kitchen and the catering facility of AFA. A broken beer bottle was also found beside him. No signs of dispute could be seen. Only one day before, the Lieutenant had undergone a court martial. He was not in a good condition and thus had been transferred to Air Force Hospital.”


In the hospital:

‘What were you doing on the rooftop so late?’ Papa asked me.

‘I was there to make a choice’, I replied in my broken voice.

He read everything in my eyes. He knew that I was there to commit suicide.

‘Then, you made the right choice.’ He got up to leave.

‘Every choice we make is a new beginning to the remaining course of our life. The past must be forgiven and forgotten.’ He put his hand on my head and caressed it for some time. Then he left.

Those words still ricochet to me whenever I get into a trouble. He was right; every choice we make is a new beginning. I have made my choice. I have made Vinay’s parents suffer. Now I could not make my parents suffer throughout their life.

Sometimes, we need to think beyond our pain, our sufferings. Sometimes, we need to live for others.


© Copyright 2017 Rohit Sharma. All rights reserved.

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