Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Flight

From as long as I can remember, I loved flying. It wasn’t just about the glamour, the speed, the bragging rights. It was that specific moment of take off and touchdown that got me particularly excited. It created a unique kind of thrill in my heart and I often challenged the pilot mentally. When the plane was landing, I’d count slowly from 1 to 10. The pilot had to, absolutely had to, touch down between 8 to 10. I don’t know who won or who lost, if he didn’t do it in the stipulated time, I just felt good if he did it right. It was like a joint effort and an achievement.
At 29 with a few decent years put in my career and a job that required travel this was a game that not only took the boredom out of flying, it even brought in an element of excitement.
This time however flying was not really that exciting. It came with mixed feelings. And it was really a ‘flight’ in every sense of the word. You know the ‘flight or fight’ response? I was tired of fighting. And now I was flying away, walking away figuratively speaking, leaving it all behind.
It was not an impulsive decision. Those had happened earlier. A sort of pulling away and then being pulled back again, and then regretting it. But things had gone too far the last time. And that’s when I realized that this relationship was not going to work. But was I going to tell Manav that? No, this time would be different. And this time would be final. I was determined.
In the aircraft I took my window seat and anxiously looked at my watch. The next few hours would be the longest and I just wanted to get them over with.
I had spent months planning this. I had picked a working day. A morning flight. An afternoon connection. And then another. A convoluted, tiring route. But I knew I had to do it this way. I just wanted a clean and complete break. Besides, I knew him too well to take any chances. But by then I would be too far away for him to reach me. It had seemed perfect at that time. But now I was tense. Almost ready to throw up.
After all it was a working day. Manav would expect me to be in office. But there were so many things that could go wrong. I could dodge his calls till about 7 pm. But after that he would wonder why. Then very likely he would land up at the office. I had managed to keep him away from the office the past month with difficultly. He had no idea I had finished serving my notice period. For that matter he had no idea I had quit.
I closed my eyes. I went back to the last big fight we had and I shuddered. It was a mistake from the very beginning. I had moved to Hyderabad on the rebound. Got into a relationship that seemed great in the beginning but wearied me at some point. I wanted out. He wouldn’t let go. And I was too weak to put my foot down. Every time I did, I landed back there with him much against my wishes. This time I wanted to end that vicious cycle.
The usual airline safety announcements were being made and in anticipation I gripped the seat handles. Something was being said about a passenger. I groaned inwardly. I couldn’t afford a delay at this time.
And then my phone buzzed. I glanced at it. It was Manav. I froze. The phone was on silent but vibrate mode and I continued staring at it blankly. I should have put off the phone. But I deliberately had not. Another two hours and my line would be disconnected. Till then it was better this way. He’d probably think I was in a meeting. The phone continued buzzing insistently. I was scared. In seconds I imagined him having gone to my office, discovering the truth somehow and rushing to the airport. While there was no base in what I was thinking, or imagining, I couldn’t get past the dreaded thought of him suddenly appearing.
The announcement cut into my thoughts again. Before I knew it, a stewardess leaned over and asked, ‘Ms Kapoor?’ Horror. “Yes …” I said hesistantly. My heart sank. “We need you to come this way for a bit,” she said as she smiled.
How does one walk on legs made of jelly? I stumbled out of my seat and numbly followed the hostess to the cabin door and the exit of the plane. It was over, I thought. All that elaborate planning. The getting of the other job in Dubai. Quitting. The secrets. And all that lies. And now I was back to square one. With no way of escaping. He was too powerful to let me do that again.
I reached the cabin door where two of the ground staff were waiting for me. “Ms Kapoor?” one of them reconfirmed. I nodded dumbly. “You left your passport on our desk. We thought we should return it personally.” The stewardesses looked surprised when tears glistened in the corner of my eyes. They probably thought I was feeling extremely grateful when I said, “Thank you, oh, thank you!” over and over again. Clutching my passport, I made my way back to my seat and sank into it ready to break down completely.
Bucked up in my seat again, I closed my eyes. The phone rang again as the captain announced instructions for all electronic devices to be switched off. I switched off my cell phone and closed my eyes. That was a close one. I clutched at the seat handle and took a deep breath as we started taxiing on the tarmac.
“Excuse me?”
It was the elderly lady next to me. “First flight?”
I smiled wanly. Yes seemed the right answer.
She warmed up to it. “It’s like this… at some point you start counting …”
I smiled “..From 1 to 10?”
“Yes, yes… you know about it?”
I nodded…
“So let’s do it… together?”
The aircraft took off at 9. This time I had won.


  1. Just so beautifully narrated!
    and yes! some thing that I could very much relate to is the 1 to 10 counting ! I really do that :)
    I like the depth in the last few dialogs that completes the story of incomplete relations in a very symbolic way.

  2. Vaishakhi, your blogs have always brought me back to reading, which I so need to catch up with. Thank you. This is more human; more real than the usual posts we see on FB. I have thoroughly enjoyed it.

  3. Ha ha ha...I found the later part very thrilling. The passenger traveling without a passport ??? And the passport was delivered at your seat ...ha ha.

    I needed some build up..."..Got into a relationship... Hyderabad...Dubai..Manav in office? Hey babe your style is changed to thriller writer...ooooof

  4. VB, your writing and stories are always an analogy and that is what makes them so memorable long after you've read 'em. I like the new style...short packed sentences with an urgency that makes you want to read faster than your eyes can. As always its was pure thrill!

  5. @Nirmala
    Thanks Nirmala. I really need a viewpoint on all these cos they are so close to me that i cannot be objective about them. Your comments are greatly appreciated and welcome

  6. @ Bahadur
    I do hope I manage the Thriller part and keep up the action. It's good to keep evolving, isn't it?

  7. Kanchan
    Thanks. It's really good to hear form you. Yes it's just a quick moment in small bits of life that I try to capture. No before, no afterward. But a single moment that builds up between two characters cos of the way they are ... Glad to hear that you do the counting too :-)

  8. @KN
    Thanks. Yes... this is part of the storywriting urge fulfilled... so not FB which skims the surface superficially!

  9. I liked the way I went away from the countdown (or was it count up)and got into the personal strees points... then suddenly brought back to the main point....

  10. @Anonymous
    well I believe that life always comes back a full circle!!!!

  11. Had a fascination with Planes and Airports from childhood. Have seen so many stories evolve in a matter of hours .. over the years of flying ! Your blog is Gripping .. from the get-go ! Suspense .. drama .. with a compelling story. Getting better with every blog. Very well written. Keep it up. Love Kinarashi

  12. @Kinarashi Thank you! Your comments are really encouraging!