When The Air Strikes

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Nikki is back with some egg rolls. The butter slithers down my tongue, like heaven liquid. There’s a flawless crunchiness to the outside and scrumptious softness within. I haven’t eaten well in a while. Hanna is biting tenderly at her roll, searching very intently for something in her feet. When she doesn’t finish her portion after we’ve all had two helpings, Luke to Hanna’s utter annoyance asks with a mouth full of chewed food, “These egg wolls are dewicious. Do you mind if I eat wours?”

“Shut up, Luke. I just talked to mom and she thinks it’s not a good idea to send you- you and Zara alone. I tried explaining to her that Andrew is going to make sure you guys get back with Mr. and Mrs. Battle safely, but you know how thickheaded she can be.”

Seeming very convinced with whatever Mrs. Hood has to offer, there’s a glint of hope in Andrew’s eye which dies when he hears Luke speaks.

“All my life I’ve relied on mum’s intuition, I kept myself away from whatever she assumed was dangerous. But remember the time she ‘thought’ the basketball tournament in Ireland wasn’t a good idea and I went anyway? I was weak at the knees when I scored the first basket and my fingers wouldn’t stop shaking. We won anyway. And until now I thought that incident was good enough to establish that I need to make my own decisions, trust my own gut. Yet, since it’s very evident that nothing has been quite fulfilling to prove the amount of faith I place in myself, I’m going to go with Zara for more than one reason.”

“I don’t know how you’re going to make her let you do this without causing damage, but I am very proud of you.”

“I don’t know that either but I am bloody proud of myself too. Also I can’t feel my feet, with all the influx of hormones.”

Everything has two forms- physical and unphysical. At the time of birth the doctors cut the umbilical cord putting away the last form of physical contact fixating the child and mother together. Despite the loss of the only visible attachment between the two it’s hard to keep them apart. There comes a time, later in life when the unphysical form of the umbilical cord needs to be cut too that’s when you’ve successfully learnt to live without both its forms. It does not mean in any way that you’re detaching yourselves. But what science doesn’t tell you is, that there exists another cord- one end of it is wrapped around your finger and the other around the hearts of people you love. Even if you let go, you’ll find a way to come back, all you need to do is tug.

Right now I see in front of me, my best friend snapping that umbilical cord. He will feel lost for a while, so will Mrs. Hood. It’ll take some efforts but eventually one of them will tug at their fingers.

Suddenly seeing the newborn glitch in the plan I ask, “Hanna, is your mum going to visit us? Not to be rude, but we’ve got to start.”

“Yeah, about that. I told her we’ll be back in another hour. We’ve to make it in time for dinner; she’s already too mad to mess with right now. Besides, Luke will need special assistance.”

Feeling like a quizmaster, I turn around and throw my next question at Andrew, “So, what’s the plan?”

He looks sick but pleased with himself beginning with a loud round of inhalation, “I have a team in Dubai covering for this month’s special report on the fastest growing city in the world. I flew there a few weeks back to get some papers signed for permission to shoot from the ministry. While at the ministry office I met Ashraf. He was there to get visas for his team working for the NGO he’s the co-founder of. Later, we had coffee together over which he passed me his visiting card. I remember him talking about his project in Aleppo. I called him and he told me that they’ll be flying day after tomorrow to Syria with aid. The group has two doctors, three nurses, two young volunteers, a chef, Ashraf and his partner Akif. They have permit slips to pass through gates. But war barely works on the principles of permission. Moreover the whole thing will turn into a huge heap of rubbish disappointment if they open fire.”

Heat spreads across my bowel. Every cell in my body can sense hope despite the hint of constant pessimism in Andrew’s voice. I feel like I’ve kicked the glass bell jar I’ve been in all this while. A rush of oxygen filters my nostrils filling my lungs. But then I realize Dubai is seven hours away from London and there’s no way a team of 10 will find my parents for me while people die around, “Andrew, that’s great. I mean Ashraf is doing a splendid job with his NGO, but what’s in it for us?”

“I talked to him. He needs two people to professionally cover their rescue operation in the form of a documentary,” Andrew says too fast for any of us to register.

“Wow,” Luke breaks the ice after a long time.

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