A Fictional Story about a Drone and a Love Affair in Kashmar, Iran
Doctor Mohandes was sitting at his Lockheed Drone Manufacturing Unit in Dallas when a message popped up on his laptop. It was a meeting request by the top guy at the facility. He wanted to meet with him in the next hour at his corner office.
Hanging on the walls of Doctor Mohandes’s office were his degrees in math and science from prestigious universities. There were also pictures of RQ-170 stealth drones in various stages of design and development. Sitting on his desk was a picture of a beautiful girl from Kashmar, Iran with big brown eyes and long, shinny black her. He had met Jamileh online a couple of months ago after he finally broke up with Debbie, his long term girlfriend and a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. Debbie wanted to get married and start a family, but Doctor Mohandes wasn’t sure if the time was right or if she was the right one for him.
The top guy greeted Dr. Mo with a big smile and a pat on the back. His manager was also in the room. “Doctor Mohandes, you have been doing a great job for us here at Lockheed and your efforts in delivering this drone on-time and under budget are well recognized up the chain. We just can’t keep up with the orders form the CIA and the DoD. Well done, my son!” the top guy praised Dr. Mo. “However, when I met with Petraeus and Panetta the other day, they both complained about the software glitches with the drones. Once in a while the operators have problems with the joy stick and when that happens, they have to call the helpdesk in Bangalore, and all that can be done at that point is to reset the drones to force the problem to go away, but it’s never fixed. I am afraid that one of these days we might lose one of these guys over hostile territory.” Dr. Mo wasn’t sure where the big guy was going with all of this.
“So I committed to them to have our best and brightest to go over to Afghanistan and stay there at Shindand Airbase until this problem is resolved. What do you think? Are your bags packed?”
“Are you asking me to go to Afghanistan now in the middle of winter? Where is this place sir?” Dr. Mo politely asked. “It is near Sabzewar, about one hour south of Herat.”
“What does one do for fun in Sabzewar sir?” Dr. Mo asked with a smile. “Oh, there is a Hooters at Ramada Inn in Heart where the guys hang out on Saturday nights. But I have heard about your girlfriend from Iran, the one with the picture on your desk. You may want to go and visit her there. But don’t say anything about your job or this project.”
A couple of days later Doctor Mohandes arrived in the small forward airbase about 100 miles from the Iranian border. It even looked worse that he had imagined! He spent the days watching the drones on the monitors as they took off and flew over Kashmar on their way to Ghom enrichment facility and Mallard to do reconnaissance and send pictures and videos. As the drones flew over Jamileh’s neighborhood he would ask the operators to zoom in and then call her on the cell phone and ask her what she was doing in the yard!
On several weekends, he crossed the border and visited Jamileh in Kashmar and became quite fond of her. But Jamileh’s father was worried about his reputation and didn’t like the fact that a man would come to his house and spend time with his daughter. The neighbors were beginning to gossip. So he told Doctor Mohandes in no uncertain terms, that he either has to have an engagement and a wedding soon or stop coming to his house. Dr. Mo wasn’t sure what to do.
A few days before Ashura, Abdol, the Afghani translator at the base stopped at the Control Center to talk to the drone operators. “Guys, you know how Heart has one of the biggest Ashura parades in the Shia world and people from all over the region participate. We are fielding a team from Sabzewar this year. I think we just might win the top prize. We are having a dress rehearsal today with all the chains, whips, machetes, knives, axes, you name it! Do you guys want to come and watch and take some pictures?” The operators looked very excited. They asked Doctor Mohandes if he could run the place for a few hours. “The drones are on their way back and should be here soon. Can you take over while we are gone?” “No Problem!” Dr. Mo said with a smile.
When the guys were gone, Dr. Mo started thinking about Jamileh again. “You know, this is it, I am going to do it! She is the one. I’ll propose to her today.” He then ran to the warehouse and found a big piece of white cloth, made a banner out of it and with a spray paint wrote on it in Farsi, “Jamileh, I Love You! Would You Marry Me?” He then attached the banner to the back of one the stealth drones and flew it towards Kashmar.
A while later he called Jamileh and told her that he had a surprise for her. “Go to your neighborhood mosque in about an hour and look at the sky and then call me!” Jamileh wasn’t sure was he was talking about, but she agreed.
Jamileh was standing in the big yard in front of the mosque when she saw a low-flying small plane circling overhead. The light plane came closer and closer until she could easily read the marriage proposal banner. She was so excited. She called Dr. Mo immediately. “Yes…I will marry you!” Jamileh said with a big smile. Dr. Mo was watching her face on the big monitors in the Control Center. “But I have to ask my father first, and then there is my Mehrieh that you need to negotiate with my father and also it is our tradition that we need to celebrate 7 days and 7 nights!”
As Jamileh was going through her list, Dr. Mo lost his concentration. The drone got dangerously close to one of the minarets and the banner got caught in it. In seconds, the drone started to spin out of control and one of its wings hit the dome and caused it to crash right in front of Jamileh in the yard. Doctor Mohandes tried hard to get the drone up and away but the controls were not working. A big crowd gathered around the drone and people tried to figure out what this thing that fell from the sky was.
Once in a while the drone would make a little move and the crowd would run back in fear, but then a few seconds later they would come closer. Nobody dared to touch the drone.
An hour later, Commander Roghani, the head of Sepah for Eastern Khorasan arrived at the scene. He circled around the drone a few times and all of a sudden, while pretending that he was looking the other way, he jumped on the back of the drone and kicked it a few times. But the drone didn’t move. It just laid there motionless. The Commander then called his deputies and whispered to them quietly. “I want you to go from the back and grab this thing as hard as you can. And then you two go from the sides and do the same. Then the rest of you guys get the ropes and the blankets from the truck and tie up this guy. We will chain it to that big tree until the reinforcement arrives from Birjand.”
Within minutes the drone was tied up, roped and chained to the tree. A couple of kids threw rocks at it. An older woman in black chador got close and spit on it. The Commander sat on a chair nearby and as he was smoking a cigarette he looked at the sky wondering what else is up there.
Back at the base, Doctor Mohandes was in a lot of trouble. He was told to get on the first flight back to Dallas and be ready for a briefing. In a matter of hours, he had got tons of messages from his boss regarding the crash, from Jamileh regarding the wedding and even from Debbie who wanted to get back together.
As he looked out the window at the big mountains of Afghanistan he wondered, “I know that I can get this drone to fly again and come home, if I can only get some fuel in it. I am a Doctor Mohandes. I know that I can do it!”