An Interesting Experience – Gesture
I put my carry-on in the luggage compartment and sat down in my assigned seat. It was going to be a long flight from Gatwick. ‘I’m glad I have a good book to read. Perhaps I will get a short sleep,’ I thought.
Just before take-off, a line of British Army youngsters came down the aisle and filled all the vacant seats, totally surrounding me.
I decided to start a conversation. ‘Where are you blokes headed?’ I asked the young man seated nearest to me. Cyprus . We’ll be there for two weeks for special training, and then we’re being deployed in Afghanistan, he said.
After flying for about an hour, an announcement was made that lunches were available for five pounds. It would be several hours before we reached Cyprus and I decided a lunch would help me pass the time.
As I reached for my wallet, I overheard a soldier ask his mate if he planned to buy lunch.
‘No, that seems like a lot of money for just an airline lunch. Probably wouldn’t be worth five Quid. I’ll wait till we get to Cyprus . His mate agreed.
I looked around at the other soldiers. None were buying lunch. I walked to the back of the plane and handed the flight attendant a fifty Pound note.
‘Take a lunch to all those soldiers.’
She grabbed my arms & squeezed it tightly. Her eyes were moist with tears when she said ‘My young bloke was a soldier in Iraq , it’s almost like you are doing it for him.’
Picking up ten lunch boxes, she headed up the aisle to where the boys were seated.
She stopped at my seat and asked, ‘Which do you like best – beef or chicken?’
‘Chicken,’ I replied, wondering why she asked.. She turned and went to the front of the plane, returning a minute later with a dinner plate from First Class. This is your thanks.
After we finished eating, I went again to the back of the plane, heading for the rest room. An old bloke stopped me. ‘I saw what you did. I want to be part of it. Here, take this.’ He handed me twenty-five Pounds..
Soon after I returned to my seat, I saw the Captain coming down the aisle, looking at the aisle numbers as he walked, I hoped he wasn’t looking for me, but noticed he was looking at the numbers only on my side of the plane. When he got to my row he stopped, smiled, held out his hand, and said, ‘I want to shake your hand.’
Quickly unfastening my seat-belt I stood and took the Captain’s hand.
With a booming voice he said, ‘I was an army pilot a long time back. Once someone bought me lunch. It was an act of kindness I never forgot.’
I was embarrassed when applause was heard from all of the passengers.
Later I walked to the front of the plane so I could stretch my legs. A kid who looked about 18 was sitting about six rows in front of me reached out his hand, wanting to shake mine. He left another twenty-five Pounds In my palm.
When we landed I gathered my belongings and started to depart. Waiting just inside the aeroplane door was a man who stopped me, put something in my shirt pocket, turned, and walked away without saying a word. Another twenty-five Pounds!
Upon entering the terminal, I saw the soldiers gathering for their Trip to their training area.. I walked over to them and handed them the seventy-five Pounds.
‘It will take you some time to reach your training area. It will be about time for a
sandwich. God Bless You Blokes.’
Ten young blokes left that flight, feeling the love and respect of their fellow Brits.
As I walked briskly to my car, I whispered a prayer for their safe return.
These soldiers were giving their all for our country.
I could only give them a meal. It seemed so little…
A Serviceman is one, who, at some point in his life, writes a blank cheque payable to ‘ His Motherland ‘
for an amount ‘up to and including his life.’
That is an Honour, and there are such ways too.
However, most folks in our country, don’t understand it.’
We would never know the name of a soldier who died in Kargil or
Any of the three wars India fought, We never think of the soldier who
braves the inhuman and unsafe conditions on the borders, so that
you and I may make our monies and sleep safe. But yes
we know the number of centuries scored by our cricketers.
We would never know the amounts our city corporations get or
spend, but we know all the details of the IPLs, the ODIs and the tests.
The day we know the details of our city, state or national budgets, the day we are concerned more about our security both external and internal, the functioning of our governments,
India would be a totally different and a far better place, than it is.
(contributed by: Mohan Rao on 30.12.2011)