“Excuse me, can I help you?” Someone shook me. “Huh?” I responded, with tears still in my eyes. “Ma’am you want help with bags” “Uhh… No… Thank you. I’ll manage.” I said. I didn’t know who he was, I didn’t know what was happening, I didn’t know where to go. I was travelling internationally for the first time; and belonging to a middle-class family, I hadn’t travelled much by air earlier, hence I was unaware of the protocol. I started walking with the crowd. There were different counters, each was differentiated on the basis of airlines. Amidst everything that had happened, luckily, I hadn’t forgotten the airline by which I was going to travel. I went to the counter of Emirates, they asked me for my bags. With great difficulty I placed them on the counter. At that moment I had wished, I hadn’t been a girl, I wished I had a bit more physical strength. My cabin bag had more weight than it should have. All my bags were severely packed; after trying out everything, I finally dumped few extra stuff from cabin bag, into my Laptop bag. “Your baggage have been checked, now you can proceed to the immigration section.” The person at the counter said; at that time I realized that it was the baggage checking counter. I was learning something new, at every step I took, as I moved away from my family. With 11 kg on my back, I headed towards the immigration section.
The immigration went smoothly, I then found myself in the waiting area. The good-byes still bothered me; to distract myself, I went to buy a coffee. Then I took a seat near the café. No longer had I started having coffee, the café played the song, ‘Yeh jo desh hai mera’ from Swades movie. ‘Perfect’!, I thought, and yet again the damn tears started. I hadn’t cried so much in the whole year, the amount I had, on that particular day. I called mom; I asked her if they all had left, asked where they were and what they were all doing, told her the airport was better than I had expected, told her I was having coffee. My mind was talking and asking these mundane questions, but my heart was asking, ‘do you miss me, mom?’ ‘Why do I have to leave you, mom?’ ‘Can’t I just stay with you for some more time?’. She answered all my stupid questions. We both knew the purpose of the call, we both just wanted to hear each other’s voice. I hung up, when I couldn’t take it more. “Damn, I didn’t know I was this emotional.” I laughed at myself.
I went to explore the retail section, to kill time. The stuff that was sold at the airport was impressive and very luxurious, but I couldn’t afford most of them. I mentally noted that, I would buy at least something, anything, when I’d be there, the next time; meaning, I would make myself capable enough, the next time. The only thing bad about travelling alone is, you have to carry your baggage everywhere. I’m a black belt in Karate, but carrying 11 kg on my back, does hurt after some time. I wanted to use the rest-room, but I didn’t know what to do of the baggage. I went to the rest-room; there was a mom struggling with her kid. “Could you please hold my kid for a second?” The mom asked. “Umm… Yeah, sure.” I said, and without wasting any more time, she handed me the kid and went to use the wash-room. The kid was super cute, and not at all cranky. I tried playing with him, and he didn’t mind. We enjoyed each other’s company. “Thank you so much.” The mom said. “No problem.” I smiled. “Okay, I got to rush, I’ve to catch a flight.” “Sure…” I said, and she left. ‘If a mom can trust something like her own kid, with a stranger like me; then I can, for sure trust my country with these material stuff I’m carrying’ I thought, and went to use the rest-room. That incident taught me that we Indians lack trust. We don’t trust people, moreover we don’t even trust ourselves. There was an announcement of my flight. I proceeded towards my destiny.
I entered the air-plane. With the help of the attendant, I kept my bag in the cabin. Such weak hands I have, I tell you. I finally took my seat. There was still some time for plane to take off. I was travelling to Dubai by this flight, then after 15 hours halt at Dubai, I had my next flight to San Francisco. I got lost in my thoughts, while viewing outside the window. “Is this your book, ma’am?” Someone brought me back. I looked at the intruder; he was a man in his mid twenties. “Umm… Yeah.” I had forgotten to take my book I had kept, on the seat next to me. I took it, and he sat down. “Hello!” He said, “Hello there!” I said. He seemed a decent man. Few minutes before the plane was about to take off, dad called. I told him I was fine, and had settled inside the plane. After I kept the phone down, “Are you Gujarati?” The man beside me asked “Uh, huh.” “Even, I’m a Gujarati. This is going to be fun.” ‘Oh no, it certainly is not going to be.’ I thought, but just smiled at his statement. I totally could imagine my next three and half hours. “Thank you God, you never fail to amuse me.” I sighed… (TO BE CONTINUED)