In my entire life, there were only two times that I had been eager to get on a plane and go to a place almost eight thousand miles far from where I resided.
The first time was as a five year old, when my family had gone to visit my aunt, who lived in California for the first time. I had jumped up and down talking loudly and been in a good mood the entire way till the flight. What I had however expected to be a ten minute ride had extended to a fifteen hour one. Needless to say that the more than fifteen hours long flight had tired the energy out of my miniature self, not to mention formed a fear of getting into flights more than two hours long, scared that I would throw up every few hours and my legs would cramp by sitting on the flight for so long.
The second was today. Except this time I was already dreading the flight, not pleased by the duration of staying in a tiny place. Or so I had been, until I was forced to wait for my flight for hours due to its delay. All I wanted to do now, was get into the flight, reach America and forget this entire thing had happened.
I trudged drowsily towards the cafe coffee day right next to the departure gate, and stood in a line, which seemed surprisingly long given that it was two in the morning. Once you closely observed the people in the line though, the time didn’t seem that arguable. Around me were people of all size and age, trying their hardest to not look sleep deprived but failing. They were people running out of patience, and irritability was evident on there face and mannerisms.
The infant baby letting out atrociously loud cries was making it the clearest. And her mother momentarily looked like she felt like doing the same and regretted bringing her into this world. The people around them looked like they felt the same way, shooting annoyed glances at the mother who looked close to tears.
The line in front of coffee store kept on proceeding forward unless I was in front of the cashier. I smiled politely at the poor guy, who had probably chosen the night shift with the thought that the workload would be least for him then.
“Hey, can I get a Cafe Mocha?” I recited, for the fifth time that day, trying to bite back an yawn. As soon as I had payed and was waiting for my drink, my phone vibrated in my front pocket, making me instinctively take it out.
It was Mamma. I let out a long breath before picking up the call, “Hello.”I said, looking over at the coffee guy, already inpatient for my coffee.
“Do you know when the plane will arrive.” She asked me again, making me close my eyes for a second.
“No mamma. I told you na, I’ll call you when it does.” I told her. I was trying my best not to get frustrated with her knowing that her calling me only showed that she was worried, but it was much harder to do so, when I considered the fact that this was her seventh time doing so in the last one hour.
“I know. Just worried, this usually doesn’t happen.” Her voice raised a couple of decibels, as she tried defending herself.
I rolled my eyes, shaking my head, “Mamma, you can go sleep. I’ll text you and baba once the plane comes. Chill, I am seventeen I can take care of myself” I told her.
“Okay. Stay safe okay? And eat something. Get proper sleep and everything.”She ordered making me let out a sigh.
“Okay.” I answered. “I love you.” I said, to which she replied with an ‘i love you too’, before I hung up.
I put my phone back in my pocket before leaning across the counter for my coffee. Of all the different scenarios I had imagined travelling to USA to look like, this was definitely not one. Travelling sounds like a lot of fun, until and unless you are the one doing it. It was only then that you realized that the number of clothes, no matter how many times you complain is less, is too many, and realize how little space even the biggest suitcases have. Not to mention waking up at three in the morning, so that your father could drive you to the airport. It was the first time I had seen Baba hurriedly telling me bye, and giving me a quick hug. Although that could also resonate from me running late for my flight and not from his lack of sleep. Not that me being late mattered anymore.
As soon as I got my coffee I muttered a quick thank you before heading over to the place I had kept all my luggage. I sat down in the uncomfortable seat before taking a sip of the coffee. The sweet, warm, milky caffeinated drink felt like heaven as it hit my throat. I closed my eyes, feeling the warmth as it went down oesophagus.
“Attention Passengers of flight 232 to Hong Kong International Airport. Flight 232 will be arriving in the next 30 minutes to Kempegowda International Airport in gate 18. We are very sorry for the inconvenience and hope you enjoy the flight.”
Next thirty minute my foot. This was the same announcement which I had been hearing for the last three hours.
I rolled my eyes, before focusing all my concentration on my phone as I unlocked it. Surprisingly, for once, I had notifications which were not spam messages. Messages from friends apart from the four I was accustomed to receiving from. Messages which said “I will miss you” in various different ways, with numerous different and creative emoji. Messages from people who usually do not bother to check on me, or text me. Nevertheless, messages. A smile made its way to my face as I checked them, a feeling of warmth surging through me.
“I am Loved.” I thought to myself, as I replied back to the messages.
Shut up, you aren’t. They are just pretending to love you. They don’t actually give a shit, about your fat annoying self.
I took a sip of my coffee, trying to tune out the voice inside my head and focus instead on the song I was listening to. Even with that, I felt my focus turn to the coffee, and the amount of sugar present in it and I made a mental note to order black coffee the next time I drank it.
A few hours later, I was finally getting seated in the plane.
I wasn’t upset I was leaving. I was waiting for the plane to take off. But that probably had more to with the fact that I had been waiting for the same flight for the last many hour and any sadness and nostalgia had been replaced by impatience.
When the place finally took off was when it hit me. I was leaving. I was leaving India, to go to another country. In a few hours I’ll be somewhere else permanently. I won’t see this place, this place where I grew up, had some of my best memories, the place I called home was as the minutes go by going farther away.
It was a heavy feeling which I didn’t like. It was scary to think that I would be landing in another piece of land in a some hours. And that, that was where I would stay.
I would never have to wait for the elevator to stop on seventh floor, and meet Preeti, Jayanth and Likitha downstairs and talk with them.
I would no longer walk til the local shop, to buy food which would fulfill my craving at odd times in the day.
I would no longer have panipuri from the same shops like I usually did.
I would no longer play tennis in the same place I had forever.
Everything would change, and as I looked at the ground, which by now looked like a map, I felt excited and terrified.
More terrified than excited of course, but this what I had worked so much for in the last few years.
And I wanted to change the girl I now saw, to one which was much more confident than scared, much more adventurous than planned, much more happier than upset.
I had needed a change for a long time, and this seemed like it. A break from a society which even though was wonderful didn’t seem to understand me, a break from those people who had caused me so much pain, and even a break from the many people who had been there for me. I just needed a break, and this seemed like it.
Things happened for a reason, and the reason for this could be to make me find myself, and love myself for who I am, and not who others are.
And maybe moving was what would get me there.