Dance of the flamingo -- Post 45
A white ceiling and uniformed figure were the first things that were in sight when Manav woke up next, he did not find either particularly appealing and promptly fell asleep again. When he woke up again nothing had changed, and he found himself falling back into nothingness, but this time he did not go all the way in. Floating in and out of sleep and into various states of consciousness, he was aware of activity around him, the familiar motions of white clothed figures. The feeling of déjà vu bringing a knot in his throat, Manav found himself unable to breath, and pushed himself up on his elbows coughing, the shock finally bringing him fully back in his senses. The figures in white rushed to his side, helping him up, supportive, soothing, Manav lay back on the pillows of his hospital bed and tried to smile to those who had helped him. “How long” Manav coughed out a question, still numb, almost detached from his senses still. “Shh quite, keep resting, let the doctors look at you, only if you feel fine without sedatives will we talk about other things.” The matronly nurse propped him up in reclining position, checking the various critical indicators once again. Manav did not find himself in a position to insist, he relaxed and let himself be taken care of, he did feel that he was out of a condition of unbearable pain, as he started feeling various parts of his body once again, they did not return with a complaint other than general weakness. The doctor who was called by the nurse to check on him agreed with that assessment as well, after inquiring about whether Manav felt well enough to face the world at large, he informed him that the Russian and Indian officials were waiting anxiously to debrief him, and had been held back only under strict orders of medical say so. “So is it up to me to choose when to talk to them?” Manav asked the doctor, his voice clearer now, his jaw healed better, the doctor just nodded a yes with a smile. “Well I guess, I might as well get it over with then, perhaps they will let me rest uninterrupted then.” Manav replied soberly. Giving instructions to the nursing staff for further care and clean up, the doctor left Manav to arrange for his debriefing, which given the circumstances was better done under medical supervision.
After about two hours during which Manav was sponged, dressed and moved out of the ICU to different and larger room, Manav saw Commodore Prakash come in with a senior Russian officer in full uniform, a large salad bar on his chest. There were two more officials, a Russian and a Indian, probably from the intelligence departments by the look of it. Commodore Prakash came up to his bed and shook his hand. “I am glad to see you better Sqn Ldr, how are you doing? Are you sure that you are up to this right now?” Manav looked around his spacious room which painted in pleasant bright pastel shades, a large window was letting in plenty of early summer sun, the grounds outside were lush greens, with trees full of fresh leaves and flowers in the shrubs. Manav smiled at his senior, “When Moscow sees this season Sir, it is hard to be unwell, yes I would like to talk about what happened as soon as I can.” For the next one hour, Manav presented the entire story as it had played out, sparing no details, accurately and entirely free of contradictions, but of course omitting the parts about his special friend. The two men who had come along with the military officers carefully took notes, while they themselves listened intently, not interrupting him for clarifications or questions. Finishing up Manav felt that he was entitled to some information in turn, after all there were some pieces that he did not know too and was keen to find out, “That Sir is pretty much it, and unless you have any more questions for me, could I please also be told as to what actually happened? I am still not clear as to who came in at the end as well? What now?” Commodore Prakash did not answer but looked questioningly at the Russian officer who in turn looked at the other two men, who stayed silent, the Russian shook his head, “Nyet, no more questions. For now at least, the good Sqn Ldr has given a detailed and crystal clear answer. So Cmdr Prakash, you can take a call on how much you want to tell him.” Commodore Prakash exhaled deeply and looked at Manav for a moment before he launched into his bit.
“Well Sqn Ldr, the Russian had credible intelligence reports, faked as it turns out now, that you were spying for some technical details with the help of some Russian friends, initially there was incriminating evidence which they got, but the incidents and investigations over last four days; oh yes you have been recovering for last four days; points to the fact that it was not necessarily so. So for now your name seems to be in the clear. The hit was by hired mercenary hands, we think we have been able to track down who commissioned it, and that went a long way in clearing things up. You did us a favor by surviving, things would have been infinitely more confused and complicated if you and Col Vassily had cooperated with the bandits.” A smile seemed to dance on Cmdr Prakash’s lips, of thoughts that would remain unsaid, he paused for breath before continuing, “As such, we expect you to be fully cleared in about two to three weeks, mostly formality and cross checking you know, much of which time you will need hospitalization anyway, and some well deserved rest on full pay in Moscow.” The Russian officer added, “As you said Sqn Ldr, a good time to be in Moscow, even the flamingos return from your country this month to Siberia, enjoy our hospitality for a while, we owe you much but at least this for certain.” Manav was surprised, the last Russian officer he met had very different views, for them to change so much even under the circumstances, there was something under the surface which was not being told and it was unlikely that he would ever find out ever anyway; but there was at least one question that he must find an answer to. “Thank you Sir, you are most gracious, but it is I who must thank you, had the commandos not turned up in time, we would not survive it was a only a matter of few more minutes. How did they ever come to know about us Sir? We never could send a SoS?” The Russian officer stayed quiet, and Commodore Prakash chose to reply “Well a friend of yours from India had called the Embassy insisting that you were to call him before the plane took off and you never did, he was frantic that something had happened to you. Normally we would dismiss this as a crank call, but considering the strange circumstances we tried to investigate and got confusing answers, so we called the Russian liaison and raised hell.” The Russian officer joined in, he looked a little embarrassed, “Meanwhile the counter terror unit had a call indicating that there were suspicious armed people in rough area where you were supposed to be, on course of your way to, umm, Russian authorities. That coupled with Indians pushed us to try and find what’s happening. We tried to raise Vassily but failed, so we ordered the QRT in, but by the time they got there, you people had already done most of the resistance hadn’t you? You people deserve some medals even if we will never be able to acknowledge this action in any of our records.” As the Russian finished his part, Manav digested what he had been just told, “already done most of the resistance?”, he mused, “But we had not, there was still a lot left over when they were suppressed by RPG fire. So some people must have been on the scene before the QRT arrived, holding out.” Then aloud “Thank you Sir” Manav said after a while, “how are the others?” “Well as you know we lost one person in the car, as also Blatsky, Sergi is fine, although he remembers nothing of what happened after he fell. Col Vassily will take far longer to heal, but he has been able to talk already and mentions how you saved Sergi and mounted a defence with Blatsky after the initial RPG rounds started coming in and he lost consciousness. He commends you highly and send his apologies, for what he did not say.”
The officers would have spent more time talking to Manav, but the medical supervisor insisted that they had already taken far longer than the scheduled hour, and the patient had to rest, though Manav felt well, better than ever in many ways. He had one more question while he still had the chance, “And what about my actual assignment Sir, what’s going to happen to the FGFA project planning?” Cmdr Prakash gave a hearty laugh in response, startling the Russians, who did not expect such a booming laughter from his wiry frame, “Ever the diligent one aren’t you Manav. Rest assured that you have done such a good job that it can now fly on auto pilot, Dr Saharsbuddhe and Mr Mathur have made sure they are sending a competent replacement for you to take it forward. Your involvement with that part is over, after all this formality is finished you will return to New Delhi, and who knows you may get a promotion of sorts. For now you need to just forget about everything and recover.” Winking at him Cmdr Prakash stood up and after all round wishes to him for a speedy recovery, the party left, the supervisor goading them out.
Manav watched the others leave, and when he was sure that he was alone, he reclined on his bed with the raised back and relaxed, looking out in the garden, feeling a sense of emptiness creep over him, but not in bad way, in good way, of burdens lifted, of a task passed on. He looked around the room once more, searching for a book perhaps to occupy himself when he glanced on a beautiful flower bouquet next to his bed, in a vase. He picked up the card next to it and looked at it. It was a simple get well soon card unsigned but for piece of soft satin stapled where the sender would usually put his name, drenched in a perfume he was familiar with, and had taken a liking for. Manav smiled, perhaps his remaining stay in Moscow was going to very interesting after all.
Last edited by Sanku on 18 Jun 2010 12:12, edited 1 time in total.