An Airport.12 mins 17.7K 12 mins 17.7K
I took my keys and air tickets, my breath is horrible and I look disgusting.I still have a vivid remembrance about last night, My publisher dropped me at the hotel, such a lovely evening, still can feel her perfume, her constant dangling, and verbal poison.
The flight is exactly by 10.30 am IST, and I am still on the way to the airport if I miss this I have no idea where will I go, The Ola driver looks at my agitated face and constantly checking the watch, he adjusted the mirror and gave me an agreeable nod of the stubborn traffic, Said, sahib I saw you somewhere are you an actor or a politician.
I once dropped my celebrity status and said, I am the writer. There was a minimum silence in the cab I have no idea for what, to cut the tension I instantly asked him, have you seen my poster in a bookstore?
He again adjusted the mirror and honked for a pass by cab and said in a tone which was a direct slap to my stereotypical face, I have read your book, Then why did you asked who am I?
He replied calmly, I actually wanted to hear want you to respond, I broke out in laughter and he did too.
So do you liked it, I almost said it in a way where I am sure how a genuine compliment sounds like.
All I have been hearing reviews which sounds fake and cooked up sometimes I wonder whether my book promoter paid all of them, I giggled in my mind, The driver replied, sahib I think you lack real pain.
Just as he said those words all my yesterday night party compliments and hugs and laughs and uniqueness in my writing went for a toss, I didn’t have anything to justify because as an artist he didn’t like my work as simple as that –I have no say on that which in turn makes me question why the review is so popular. These morbid question made me forget I have a flight to catch.
He smiled and said Sahib, we have reached. I looked outside and there I was, before time, I have no clue what the driver got me into and made me understand a few things which I never contemplated amongst my writer's friend or family.
I paid and said thank you.
There were a heavy downpour and airport was filled with busy passengers and irate as well I checked the terminal and I immediately ran towards it, I bumped into a girl and her entire luggage fell, I couldn’t say sorry but she for sure abused me or I don’t know, I can hear my ringtone may be a thrice somebody was trying to reach, I hope it’s not the taxi driver.
I saw a huge line with passengers standing with their air tickets and luggage and kids too, I glanced all over the airport stood behind the queue as sober as I can be, I still had those thoughts of the driver who gave this subtle feedback.
A girl wearing a thick glass and carrying a book and a water bottle her cheeks were red and her eyes looking straight at me. May I take a selfie, as I looked straight to her family was standing there looking at me, a poor girl sent by her parents to take a selfie. I couldn’t deny it so I did. Her mother gave me a verbal nod and I smiled back.
Flight to Mumbai 8176 is delayed for 3 hours and we regret the inconvenience, the whole queue suddenly became furious and there was a mass hysteria in the airport or maybe I was more pissed.
The smell of whiskey and cheap perfume, wearing a t-shirt and a shorts which makes me look like a hippie or a tourist, out of agitation I took a magazine and a beer, I sat in a corner of the airport where nobody can look at me and ask for selfie that’s right after certain time you don’t feel like it.
I closed my eyes, for a short time the driver's face came right in front, Sahib you lack pain in your writing. The overpowering announcement broke my sudden nap and looked back,
An old man, wearing a blazer which looked elegant and he had this wise face looked like a retired soldier, hair was combed tightly and the smell of manly cologne his very presence made me feel less valuable.
He kept the newspaper on the seat and coffee cup beside, he asked are you, okay son,
I regained my composure, I am hungover, Oh, I understand, have some lemon juice perfect hangover cure, he said this in a way as he is sure of it. There is a thing with him which made me obey him, I have no clue. I kept my composure and asked sir, Are you a retired soldier, he replied, you are right son, Ex colonel Indian army. My whole writer thing just dropped and I looked like a fool in front of him.
He kept telling me son, somewhere I could not stop him because he had this authoritative voice and every syllable he said ringed true.
He mentioned he served Indian army for 32 years and have won accolades. He laughed and I can hear it amplified all over the airport I would concur it was the most honest laughter I could ever hear of.
May I ask son what you do for a living? He bent face his little ahead and made this pause, I understood I have to talk now, Sir I am the writer. That’s amazing son, a published one, I replied yes with a half-smile. I am sure you are here on business or a book tour, he was confident about my whereabouts. Right sir, I am most of the time on a book tour around India that sometimes gets exhausted. Hmm, that’s how he responded, maybe he found all my doing stupid. Just to sound more professional I asked, have you read my work? I will if you want me to, that’s how he responded which in a way a slap to my face tight one.
He spoke how he once been trapped behind the enemy lines and they tortured him and made him confess about Indian army, in retrospect he came, clean and did not make them spurt out any words out from him. He sounded pretty calm and clean as if it sounded it was a mock drill. He reminisced multiple events of the battlefield which in turn was truly amazing and horrific at the same time, I thought of once I could have been a reporter to publish something so credible to put in print I can gather publicity overnight and get promoted to senior reporter. All these unnecessary thoughts were simply revolving in my mind and I have to make a mental note to understand the length of the conversation. He spoke as if he knew what it feels to be brave. I wonder how his kids or grand kids have a feeling for him. While he was continuing with this thought process and narrating his experience, I stopped him from his flow of words and asked whether he has any grand kids or children of his own?
For some reason he didn’t quite like the question and looked as if he is searching for the answer in me – I on the other hand had no clue where to look so I looked at his eyes directly, I felt he was sad about something, all of the narrating and happiness suddenly disappeared, he became more realistic and unhappy at the same time, there was an awkward silence, a silence where even being a wordsmith I can’t fill the void. I made sure he was okay, due to my inability to come across statement such as are you okay, I patted his back and asked, Sir?
He replied, yes I have a son, sometimes life takes you to a place where you want to but that comes with a sacrifice and not all sacrifice feels right especially the person who has to live with it, not the one who has left.
I was aghast as it ringed so true I wanted to make a note of that line so I can put it on my next book , but he was far from making a just a line and suddenly his head tilted towards the plane chart and seemed interested especially looking the Delhi flight –He looked at the board and gave a smile who I can never forget till date I don’t see a smile which has the capability of changing somebody way of living, That day I realise loss is just not for the dead , it’s for the one crying thereafter and the one who has to live with the absence- sometimes death does not bring hope it brings years of torment and sadness.
I left for home and reached Mumbai airport, my friend Karan greeted me with his half-baked face,
Karan helped me become a writer, not that he put words in me neither does he motivated me, I remember in school, he been thrown out of the English period, yes we both were from a vernacular medium, our Sanskrit is way apt and above average. He liked language I never heard any prejudice coming from his mouth, getting back, he was thrown because he cannot pronounce the word enthusiastic.
Everyone laughed at him, not just laughter each one of the teachers too – he lacked social skill as well, never really retaliated. The thing was he couldn’t frame a sentence and moreover very low in speaking English. Numerous times he has bullied for not speaking correctly, I on the other hand good at written language never really verbally, We cleared our SSC and now it was the time to see the real world for us academically.
We took arts together, and the first year we both got a KT as we have no idea what the professor spoke.
One day while we were sitting on the open ground looking at the cricket match played by the senior students, He kept quiet for a while and said, Do you know why I never said any single word to whoever laughed at me. I smiled thinking he will come with a joke, he replied, Because That’s the time you make your mind who you want to be, What others think you can never do, I will do which everyone thinks I can never win,
I didn’t tell him anything then, but the word he spoke like it was a silver bullet coming out from his immature mind, but everything he said his words was as heavy as a crane. That's the day I figured out, truth sank in me. You become truly who you are when you accept your shortcoming.
Since we both wanted to deal in words he chooses teaching and taking care of the school I choose to become a writer.
I reached home and my publisher wanted to inquire or ask me, whether or not to start with something new in terms of stories as the audience needed more of me, I nodded yes, and disconnected the phone l Put the phone aside and I fell on the bed with eyes tired and my heart pumping for some reason, I heard a story which is so sad in nature may be more optimistic, I really can’t decide which is true.
I have this irresistible urge of narrating the story to someone, someone who could get to the depth and tell me whats really uncommon about it. There was an itch a serious itch to tell the world how beautiful and profound the story is.
For few days I closed myself locked in my room to really figure out how really I can put this in words,
I wonder does it really gets this hard, I imagine myself in his place, I wanted to pen this down but I didn't know where to begin and where to end, you can’t end such things you can only sense it does.
A couple of days just passed like a cold air, and I was just staring blankly at the page, my phone rings,
In the attempt of receiving it I accidentally I hit my cup of tea and tea was all over my laptop, to my surprise, my laptop just didn’t start I have no other way of writing all my work is there, I will take it out from the cloud computing but nonetheless I have nothing to write except for paper and pen.
The winter has reached and the sun was about to get home and moon shift has begun.
I commenced writing about the old soldier I met in the airport, I wrote without taking any halt, as if words will skip my mind, the story was so important to me I couldn’t sleep- I disconnected every call I received , I did not read any mail, I kept writing as it’s a matter of life and death and the story will evaporate, but I wanted to give the story a voice a voice that will eventually come in light and show people how it feels to lose your life .
Just about to complete the last line I fainted, my hands were shivering, I can only see darkness.
I slightly open my eyes, and I see my entire family looking straight at me, and in the corner my publisher standing with a bouquet, My mother was worried and she couldn’t stop herself, she came close and put her head on chest and whispered don’t worry , I am here!
The curtains are not stable and there is a heavy downpour, I am looking outside and wondering whether he died peacefully. The day my book released I traced him and figured he passed out he died asleep with his son and his wife pictures tucking underneath his arm.
Col. Ran veer Singh Pratap and an ex-military man used to go to the airport removing a ticket to Delhi.
He sat every Wednesday at the airport expecting his son to come and meet him and they were supposed to attend a wedding in New –Delhi. Sudhir Pratap his son died in Kashmir he took a bullet for a civilian. He was rostered to come to Mumbai to meet his father and fly to Delhi.
Col. Ranveer wanted to meet his son but he couldn’t because time did not allow him.
His wife deceased exactly one month back.
I still see him smiling at the airport with a bag, when I look closely he smiles back.
Just a like a hero.