He indicated his departure several times; it never took place and we believed that it would not happen this early. First, when we were together in the accident on the 07th of July 1999(refer blog ’07 July’) , then again when I insisted that he borrow my helmet on his trip to Jammu as a pillion on another officer’s bike. A truck hit them and the helmet took the impact. He came out with superficial wounds to his head and body.My helmet of course met its demise there and then, on the verdant hills of Nagrota.
Priye was my soul ‘bro’ in all his follies. We were each other’s confidante and would cover up for one another. This affection stemmed from both being from Bihar and having a common senior- my spouse!😀 He could royally march into my house and demand ‘Sattu ki roti and aaloo chokha’ in the bone freezing climes of Kashmir, and I would relent. He considered me his Man Friday and I tried to be a a Miss know-all around him. He was one of its kind aviator, his stories making news everyday. Like one outstanding story being ‘he wanting to know from his own Commanding Officer, as his examiner in the co-pilot’s seat ; as to land on which one of the three parallel strips he could spot from up above- the Tawi river, the runway and the highway!
He evolved into an expert aviator, part of the Air Forces acrobatics team- Sarang. Nine years on, I was reading Op Immediate signals in my office at Command Hospital Bangalore when the name in a signal evoked a sense of de-ja-vu! (Refer the previous blog ‘Arrival’ for the signal) Only that it read ‘arrival of Squadron Leader Priya Sharma in an ambulance after being involved in a fatal accident at the practice session of the Bangalore Air Show’. Most of the officers and staff at the hospital assumed that a lady officer Priya Sharma’s body was reaching for the final formalities. Only I knew, my heart weighing down with pain; that my dear friend of so many years, was arriving for his final bye bye to me, once again his name eclipsed in a typo!