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postheadericon Passage to India Part 6 - My Father's Flight to India in 1934

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Copyright (c) 2009 Michael Ogden

My father continued the story:

During Saturday afternoon and while we were sittig in the cockpit trying to get a little sleep, an argument arose which eventually we were drawn into as apparently we were the bone of contention. It seemed that a headsman and his relations from another village had arrived and announced that as the ground that we had landed on was his, it so followed that we too were his property, and that in future he and his village would do the guarding of us.

This of course didn't at all suit our three ruffians whose visions of future wealth from us were fading before their eyes. As it didn't matter to us much who we belonged to we left them to it to fight it out. After at least an hours arguing and shouting, our three were beaten and wandered off across the desert much to our joy, really, as anything was bound to be better than those three blackguards; anyhow it couldn't be any worse.

Our new "owner" then cleared off all our audience, his object being, as we soon realised, to have a nice private talk to us about money. The night before only having English pound notes with us, we had given our three guards one note each. This old gentleman seemed to know this and now demanded five pounds (holding up five fingers) for his protection. This was, of course, out of the question as at that rate our supply, meagre anyhow, would have lasted no time and without money we should be even more helpless than we felt at the moment.

So we offered two, and held them up for him to see and maintained the "take it or leave it" attitude we had decided to adopt, In the end he left it and walked off with his elders into the gathering dusk. As a matter of fact this rather dismayed Lady Blanche, and if it hadn't been for my father, she would have run after him and given him the fiver sooner than be left like this entirely unprotected.

Anyway, there it was, and we started to make ourselves as comfortable as possible for the night by digging out as large a hole as we could in the sand under the plane so as to keep off some of the cold wind which was still blowing. A wearisome business owing to our only implement being a medium sized screw driver.

Sleep under these circumstances combined with nervous tension was, anyhow for me, out of the question, and it wasn't more than two hours after settling down that I suddenly saw three figures creeping towards us out of the darkness. Lady Blanche woke Oggie with a "Here they come" and we got up and went out to meet them trying to appear only half as frightened as we really felt. We shouted something at them and they replied, neither understanding the other, and when near enough to us they began "shooing" us back to the aeroplane with their guns.

There was nothing else to do but to obey especially as it was too dark to see their faces on the chance of recognising any of them. Back we went, and they calmly proceeded to make a hole in the sand for them-selves and settle down as we had done earlier on.

Nothing further occurred during the night although we got very little sleep, and in the morning we found that our old headsman had evidentally thought better of it and had sent out our three visitors to guard us and get our original offer of the two pounds. However, the night being over and they had done nothing but give us a good fright by appearing suddenly like that we absolutely refused to pay them anything at all, and even when the old headsman himself arrived and pleaded with us through most of that day, we stuck to it and did not pay and causing him to withdraw his followers from our circle and also his protection from ourselves.

Sunday passed fairly quietly, mostly spent by us in keeping our audience's curiosity in check and their hands from picking the aeroplane to pieces.

Another tiresome form their curiosity took now was to be always asking to see inside our locker, so keen did they become that once or twice when we weren't looking we found them trying to force it open. This interest was, to us, difficult to understand till much later we found out that wild stories were going round of treasure and arms that we were supposed to be carrying. One thing that struck me very much about these natives was that when a newcomer to swell our audience arrived, the whole seated circle rose to their feet, bowed, muttered a "Salaam" and something about Allah and touched hands. In fact quite a ceremony. On the other hand, when departing they just faded away without a word. Actually we thought the word "goodbye" or "thank you" did not come into their language at all.

Amongst our new visitors on Sunday afternoon were a whole family of the pure negro type, men, women and children, relics I'm told, of the old African slave days, though how they remained so true to type all these years I cannot imagine. One newcomer on this afternoon was a great help to us as he could speak a few words of Hindustani and Oggie was able, through him, to procure us some milk and a bucket of water as our supply was practically exhausted.

What was left tasting perfectly disgusting. This had to be fetched for us from the nearest village which was at least four miles away, or from the river just beyond it. We presumed from the latter, as after emptying most of the brownish liquid in the bucket we found masses of little tiny fish swimming about in the bottom!

How many we had actually swallowed we didn't dare think about. The natives seemed to be getting much more friendly by now, especially a very tall man of about 50 (later on to become our host and best friend called Rais Mhortar) who now after sitting round and looking at us for about two hours, suddenly from the sash round his waist (their only pocket!) produced a large bundle of Chipatti wrapped round a mass of dried dates, and handed it to us. We couldn't have been more grateful, but why he had to take so long, considering our hunger, to make up his mind to give it us, I don't know.

Michael is a Distributor with Kleeneze, a UK Multi-Level Marketing Company, promoting household products via a catalogue. If you would like to have your heirs write details of your fantastic achievements in life, which is something money cannot buy, please look at our website for further information

Article Source: Passage to India Part 6 - My Father's Flight to India in 1934

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