It was the first ever show by Suryakiran jets in this temple city. I just walked down to the virahanur dam for the show to begin. A day before, I had watched the rehersal from the bridge parallel to the dam and knew that the dam site offered a closer look.
Few women came with children in an auto. They were quite excited to see the red and white painted Kiran Mark II jets performing aerobatics in the sky.
A middle aged woman said, ``You know what? Yesterday was the shock of the life. Three planes targeted our colony repeatedly. When we saw it first, we were happy. When the planes that climbed up came down straight towards us, we were terrified,'' she said, still in a state of shock.
About forty women in the colony had no clue as to why the planes were targeting them. ``We thought some enemy planes were coming to bomb the village,'' said another woman. ``As the planes came down at high speed, we ran away from our homes to the shades of trees outside. Even there, the planes would not leave us. We kept running between our houses and trees,'' says a woman wearing a green saree. Now smiling.
``No one told us that the planes were rehearsing. I watch Sun News also. They also did not say anything,'' she rues. Later, as the planes did not bomb, the women said they came to a conclusion that the government was spraying mosquitoe repellent from the air to prevent chikungunya. ``There was a lot of smoke from the planes that filled our houses,'' a woman recalls vividly.
``For hour an hour, we were so terrified,'' said the green saree with big eggy-eyes. ``I would have even died of heart attack. How could we know that they were practising?,'' she asks, in all her ignorance. ``We have been watching planes (the descent to the airport begins over their village). But these planes were really fast,'' she said, now fully smiling.
The next day, for half an hour, yesterday's terrified villagers, watched the show with their wards, amused and amazed. In fact, the Surya Kiran's aerial ballet thrilled the residents of this temple city, still considered to be a large village grounded in nativity.
For one day, Madurai, that also worships film stars, came to knew the real heroes of this nation.
This land, with a brave cultural past, thought the daring pilots to be super-humans.