She liked the ring of the year 2222. Now that Hinglish had become the largest spoken language in the world, people in America, Germany, France and England and many other hitherto unheard of countries all spoke in Hinglish and ushered in the year 2222 with sounds of Bai Bai. The commentators on BBC and CNN channel had tough time reporting whether they were asking for Maid Maid or saying Good-bye to the year 2221. The commentator on IBC (Indian Broadcasting Corporation) Abdul Mahavir Singh however knew precisely why Bai Bai was important. Some three billion men in the most populous country in the world, India, had got fed up of household chores that their dominant wives subjected to day in and day out and were demanding Bai Bai, a title for a male or man-servant; the title having been chosen by women who felt that it required twice the man-servants to do a maid’s job.
Her name was Marilyn Zahida Singh; such names had come about by a decree of India’s Prime Minister Fatima Elizabeth Kumari. India had become the most secular country in the world; hence, all names of men and women above 18 years of age (the age for voting), by law, had to have names from at least three communities figuring in them. Indian politicians, the most secular of the lot, as always, had names as long as complete couplets of the 15th century mystic poet and saint Kabir. There was hardly any community or caste whose name was left out unless they were sure that such a community was redundant in the forthcoming 2222 elections for the 2222 seats (another importance of the Bai Bai year) of the People’s Gantantra Majlis (Names of Houses in Parliament had to follow the rule as given in the decree for names of people; indeed almost all names – say, of parks, monuments, schools, colleges – were to be likewise).
Marilyn sat in the park named after India’s great-lover-of-ahimsa Maulana Mohansingh Kipling Gandhi and thought how nice it would be if she had had a good husband like many of her friends in the Indian Kootnitik Bahria, a name adopted for the Indian Navy after it had become strategic with the induction of 22 or Bai (another importance of the year Bai Bai) nuclear submarines. Her husband Ravinder Pervez Stalin Ravi just sat at home and wrote his stupid blog whose spellings had changed in honour of the year Bai Bai and was now called Sun22anyname.
Marilyn Zahida Singh was an Admiral in the Navy having been given command of a coastal defence vessel Begum Ahilya Kaur. Abdul Vikram Singh Committee (Short title: AVSC) Part 22 (another importance of Bai Bai year) report had ensured that Rear Admiral was now the lowest rank in the Bahria and within a few years a person became Vice Admiral and then Admiral. The ranks after that were dependent upon the job requirement, eg, Admiral of the Minesweeping Squadron and Supreme Admiral of the IKB. Men had stopped going into the Navy as most of them were busy putting up anecdotes of early 21st century on a group called HIAOOU* when their grandfathers, great grandfathers and great great grandfathers were in the Navy. Nobody quite understood what the Chinese sounding name Hiaoou meant or stood for. But, amongst the members it had become a form of greeting, eg:
Member A: Hiaoou there!
Member B: Hiaoou to you too. Just loved your latest and original and very relevant story about the level of commitment amongst women in the United States Navy and another absolutely original one about buying a bicycle with a carrier or stand. (An “original” joke on HIAOOU was deemed to be the one which had been put up less than ten thousand times).
Sitting in the park, Admiral Marilyn Zahida Singh thought about whistling at two men going past; but then two things stopped her. One, People’s Gantantara Majlis had passed a new law on the Protection of Indian Aadmi against Sexual Harassment and Other Offences; and two, both looked straight ahead mortally scared of sideways glances in a predominantly female society. Even at that she would have whistled just to have some fun and also knowing that people from the armed forces didn’t have to follow laws; but, she remembered how her husband Ravinder had touched her feet in the morning when she left for work (Indian traditions, she felt were stupid and this two century old tradition of men touching the feet of their spouses had to be put a stop to; she was liberal minded and often talked about Men’s Emancipation and Empowerment of Men) and had entreated her not to flirt with men. She loved him and he was nice to kids. Despite Sun22anyname, he found time to cook and often made her favourite dish Sambhar very well.
Suddenly there was a beep on her 22G phone and the screen had the Admiral of the Eastern Fleet Lolita Rahim Das telling her, together with an inlay of the map of Indian Ocean, that Somali pirates (who had kept on increasing their area of operations) had attacked a Shipping Corporation of India vessel Subedar Major Hoshiyar Sajjid Turner, MVrC off the coast of Japan and she, Marilyn, should sail with despatch to be there. They already had the Mistress of the tanker on video conferencing call and she told the ship’s Mistress to await her arrival. The other SOPs for her appeared on the screen immediately.
She called the Pirate vessel and demanded video conferencing with the lead pirate. They insisted on texting only. She had no choice; you can’t dictate terms to pirates nearly four thousand miles away. At one stage she lost her kurta and called them SoBs when the pirates demanded 600 trillion rupees as ransom money (Rupee was now trading at only 1000 to a US Dollar after the new Indian PM Manmohan Fakhruddin Smith’s economic reforms, which had pulled the Rupee out of its worst ever 1669 to a US Dollar). At that time, she had no idea of the surprise that awaited her in this Global War on Piracy that was going for more than two centuries.
Marilyn quickly calculated that at her speed of 500 knots enabled by a miniaturised nuclear plant, it would take her nearly eight hours to reach off Japan; also taking into account that in her passage through Malacca Straits, she would have no choice but to reduce speed to less than 300 knots in keeping with the International Regulations about Safety of Navigation in Channels and Gulfs 2179. The regulation was already 43 years old and was due for revision since everybody knew that in some of the channels proceeding at such low speeds as 300 Knots was literally sailing into the hands of the pirates. But, China was stridently opposed to the amendment until the United States admitted that all vessels must keep clear of South China Sea since the Chinese had renamed it as Mao Lake and had claimed it as Internal Waters of China.
Begum Ahilya Kaur was equipped with the latest state-of-art laser guided Pepper Spray Missile Launchers and Marilyn had ensured that she always had the WWR of the ammo missiles on board to meet any contingency. These missiles could decapitate pirates at a range of nearly 300 miles. But, she knew that this time through she would have to launch the deadly missiles at closer range so that whilst incapacitating the women pirates, the Mistress of the merchant tanker and the crew would be protected against the ill effects of Pepper.
There had been an international move to ban such biological agents as pepper spray missiles; but, women’s organisations (there were millions of such organisations on the earth; lately, the United Nations had changed its name to United Nations of Women) had nipped the move in the bud by pointing out that women had to suffer pepper in the kitchens for centuries and now that it had become a WMD or Weapon of Male Destruction, why couldn’t women have some fun?
The Coastal Defence Vessel Begum Ahilya Kaur sailed at 2222 hours on the night of 22 Feb 2222 and headed for the pirates. She spoke to her ship’s company of 22 women live on the secure video on their watches and explained the mission to them. There was general euphoria in the mess decks as the GoI permitted 22 per cent of the loot of the pirates to be shared amongst the ship’s company depending upon their rank. Marilyn wasn’t thinking of the loot; she had enough and she didn’t really crave material things. Last time she had got the IKB Medal 2 Bravo (Medals had become so many in the Indian Armed Forces that they were now merely numbered; the highest was 1 Alpha) for a Search And Rescue mission. Indeed, women easily had about a hundred to their credit within about 5 years of joining service. The rule was to wear specified ones on different days of the week. Still an IKB 1 Alpha was worth having. Marilyn dreamt that IKB 1 Alpha would soon be hers after teaching a lesson to Somali pirates off Japan. She thought of grabbing a few hours of shut-eye before facing the pirates. The sunrise was at 0422 hours and she would be less than a thousand miles from the pirate ship.
Satellite tracking was on and all the time giving the picture of the SCI tanker and the pirate vessel. Even at night, the thermal imaging camera pictures were of very good quality. On instructions from her, the Mistress of SCI ship had conveyed to pirates that there was a sudden machinery breakdown and engineers were working to get it right. On persistent queries from the pirates, she had told them that expected time of defect rectification would be about 0700 hrs next day. The pirate vessel was, therefore going round and round the merchant tanker. Marilyn knew that that made the task of using her lethal PSMs even more difficult. To be on the safe side she had asked the merchant tanker Mistress and crew to put on gas masks.
At 0520 hours she got up. At 0530 hrs, she sounded Action Stations. At 0545 hrs she brought down the speed to a comfortable 250 knots and gave order to bring the two PSM launchers to readiness State One. She momentarily closed her eyes and pictured IKB Medal 1 Alpha being pinned to the left hand top pocket of her tunic.
As soon as the pirate ship came within the range of laser optical device she trained it to have a look at the lead pilot. She froze. At first glance it looked like as if the pirate hadn’t had a haircut for a number of years. But then, when the pirate turned around, she saw him….nay, her. And this is what she saw:
Her dream of the medal drifted away. She rued that she had sailed nearly four thousand miles from home, all the effort put in, and finally it turned out to be a female pirate. Naturally, International Women’s Law, for which 222 countries were signatories, did not permit PSMs or Pepper Spray Missiles to be used against women.
Her hopes of another medal being pinned on her tunic lay in shambles. She closed her eye and saw the medal disappearing from her vision.
She opened her eyes and heard Ravinder telling her, “Lyn hurry up and pin my medals on the tunic; I am getting late for the divisions. And, please stop daydreaming; last time you pinned my name tally upside down and I had to stand drinks for everyone.”
As she hurried with the final touches on his tunic, she straightened the brass buttons; five in front and two on the epaulettes, she thought of Bai Bai year wistfully. Admiral Marilyn Zahida Singh my foot, she thought; it was more like civilian bearer Lyn and possibly Leading Cook First Class Lyn.
Bye bye, Bai Bai; she thought, you can’t dream too far ahead in time.
*HIAOOU is a group on the Facebook and is expanded to: ‘Humour In And Out Of Uniform’.
Here is the Link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/faujihumour/
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