I can’t help noticing that last year exactly around this time, (29th March to be very precise) on the day we celebrated Earth Hour, just like we did today, we had rain, just like we are having today, and a day-long power cut, again, just like today, like I mentioned in this post. Kind of makes you wonder about whether everything really is random.
But that is not what this is about. This post is an impulsive outburst, and I attribute it to humanity. To chance acquaintances and instant connections. To the verity that kindheartedness is still very much in fashion.
Cutting down on the effervescence, and coming to the gist of the story. Which starts in a flight from Chennai to Kolkata. After spending three days in Chennai with R, having to check in at the airport for my flight to Kolkata while he stayed back for his international flight later, was embarrassingly tearful. Between trying to remind myself that I was in the airport, of all places, amidst total strangers, and then consoling myself with the fact that they were after all strangers and hence I needn’t bother about the strange looks they kept throwing my way, I managed to board the flight without creating a total scene. Almost. The compassionate woman at the security check tut-tutted at my swollen eyes, and inferred I must be leaving my parents behind. On being informed, through fresh tears, that it was the fiancé I was going away from, all she could say was “Ayyayyo Madam, not to cry no!” I was so sad that even her words made me feel better. I swear.
Ugh. I digress as usual. So I boarded the flight, and true to my habit, kept looking at the people boarding the flight wondering who would be seated next to me. An old woman, accompanied by an old man I assumed to be her husband, shuffled towards me, and just said one word, “Move”. Like the obedient girl I am, I obligingly shifted from my seat in the middle to the window seat. Not that I minded shifting, but part of me wondered if the lady couldn’t have added a “Please?” to it. I was giving up my assigned seat after all. Too occupied with my own melancholy about how the next time I meet my guy would be when I am actually getting married to him, I fixed my gaze at the window, taking in the night view of the city, conveniently ignoring the couple next to me.
Once the vertigo took over though, I buried myself in an Archie Double Digest, trying hard not to think about how the sky looked like a dark blue wall caving in on me. So much that I didn’t notice that the airlines people had opened “shop” already (Ground prices VS. Air prices? Really? Who do they think they are kidding?) Until Grumpy Aunt next to me started shuffling in her seat again, trying to make room for their paid-for on-flight dinners. I took my perfunctory bottle of water and a packet of salted peanuts and went back to my comics, only to be nudged by my neighbor in the arm. Offering me two packets, one of “Mughlai Parantha” and the other “Malabar Parantha“, she smiled and said, “Take one?”. I couldn’t help conceding how Grumpy Aunt wasn’t actually grumpy at all, and I noticed her kind eyes for the first time. I politely refused, saying I was not hungry. She insisted, and kept shoving the packets towards me. After about three rounds of refusal and insistence, I took one, thanking her. Not one to start up a casual conversation based on small talk, I again turned to my comics. Aunty wasn’t satisfied just giving me the dinner packet though. She also passed me the paper napkin that came with the dinner and I couldn’t help giggling this time. Aunty smiled back at me, and just to make her point, caressed my cheek. I can’t think of a sweeter gesture, really. And now that I think of it, I can’t remember a more benevolent face.
Hence passed one hour uneventfully, and just like it always happens to me, the vertigo was back before I was ready for it, earlier than I had expected. I overheard Aunty mention to Uncle that we might be landing, and since I figured they must be frequent fliers, I asked casually in English if we were about to land. Aunty nodded, and asked Uncle in turn, and before I knew it, the three of us were in the middle of a conversation. I got to know they were back from a long trip, having visited their sons and daughter, and I myself revealed more of myself than I normally do to random strangers. Maybe because my gut feeling told me they weren’t random strangers. Sometime mid-conversation Aunty confessed she thought I didn’t understand Hindi, which I found a little strange, hence explaining those awkward one-word sentences. And hence making me realize that sometimes a smile and a caress can say so much more than words do. On being asked as to what my future plans are, I found myself divulging my wedding plans to her, and she was so happy she patted me on my back, as though it were a major achievement to have scored a good husband! She casually asked me if I would invite her to my wedding, and I laughed it off, saying yes, I would.
When we had landed, I couldn’t help telling her that I really, really liked her, and she kissed me on my cheeks, saying she found me adorable. To my surprise though, she seemed to have taken the wedding invite quite seriously, and she asked me, “How are you going to invite me if you don’t have my number?” Although somewhat hesitant to dispense with my number, I saved it on her phone (she didn’t know how to do it), knowing very well that the chances of her using that number were near zero. I took her number in turn, and then helped her get off the flight and in the bus. While we kept waiting for our luggage to come, Aunty kept asking about who would come to pick me up from the airport and where would I be staying for the night, and I knew she was genuinely concerned. Even after I assured her that my Jiju would come to pick me up and I would stay at his place, she told me to give her a call even if I had the slightest problem. I touched her feet before she went out of the airport, and she filled my heart with her blessings, giving me yet another kiss on my forehead.
I repeated the story to everyone I met for the next few days, and could never get her face out of my mind. Each time I would scroll down my contact list in my phone, her name would remind me of her. And today, whole two months later, as I was wondering if I should give her a call or wait for my wedding date to be fixed, I also wondered if she even remembers me. Fearing that I would fail to register myself in her memory, I decided not to.
Which brings me back to my theory of things not being random after all. Serendipity it has to be, but Aunty called me today itself. You can only imagine how happy it made me, to have my faith in humanity restored back to me, nicely wrapped up in a warm conversation. We talked about how we had never forgotten each other, and how it had to be telepathy that she called me up just today. I promised to keep in touch more often, and she promised to book her tickets the day my wedding date got fixed.
Who says people have no time for humanity these days?
P.S. The title is in tandem with the year-old post I mentioned before 🙂