Ladies and gentlemen, due to bad weather conditions, Captain has turned on the seat belt sign. Please return to your seats, and keep your seat belts fastened. Thank you.
I heard the in flight announcement, and opened my eyes to fasten my seat belt. I was struggling with the belt as my right hand was bandaged.
“May I help?” I heard a husky lyrical male voice.
The passenger sitting next to me slouched nearer, and helped me put the metal buckle inside the holder.
“Thank you,” I said.
“What happened to your hand?” He asked.
“It got burned while I was learning to cook.”
“Awww,” he uttered out of concern.
The plane was shaking constantly. I held the arm rest tightly, and the other guy did the same.
“I don’t want to die like this,” I said, out of nowhere.
“Me neither,” he replied. “How do you want to die?” He asked.
I thought for a while. “I want to die suddenly, an instant end. I don’t want to see it coming. I don’t want to surrender to it.” I replied.
Meanwhile, the plane shook some more. The lights dimmed. And panic started to run on all the faces.
“Sir please remain seated,” I heard a voice and turned around. A man was standing near his seat. “Please remain seated,” the air hostess repeated, and the guy sat down.
“Is it so hard to understand that you aren’t supposed to get up while there is turbulence in the flight?” I said to divert my mind from the current situation.
“Seriously man,” the guy repeated, in semi British accent.
We turned our heads together, and our eyes met for the first time.
“I am Vikram,” he said while we exchanged smile.
“I am Taara.” I introduced myself.
“You stay in London?” He asked.
“No, I am on a trip.”
“That’s so cool.” He said, and I smiled.
“Yeah,” I replied with a hint of pride in my tone.
“Starting with London, then Scotland-Wales-Ireland.”
“Nice! But why alone?”
“Why alone?” I thought. “Because I am not married. I don’t have a boyfriend. All my friends discussed the plan on three different WhatsApp groups but backed out eventually.”
“Just like that.” I said. “You stay in London?” I asked, to change the topic.
“Yes, I have been working in London for almost ten years now.”
“Your family stays in Delhi?” I asked.
“Yup. Gawd! I miss my family so much.”
“What the fuck?” We muttered together, as the plane passed through some serious turbulent area.
I took a hold of my racing heart, and looked at Vikram again.
“Some turbulence is normal during international flights.” He said, and paused. “But today, it’s just not ending.”
“Wherever I go, problem follows,” I said, and took the blame of bad weather for no reason.
“Come On! I don’t believe that. You seem to be a pretty nice girl. Almost harmless.”
“What if I am a contract killer? How do you know?” I said, and narrowed my eyes.
“I would know. I am good at judging.”
“Just confidence, in moderate quantity, neither over, nor under,” he replied, flirtatiously.
Ladies and gentlemen, the seat belt sign is now turned off. But for your safety, we recommend you to keep your seat belts fastened. You can now use the restrooms. Thank you.
“Look, I told you that we’ll be fine.”
“When did you say that? You were equally scared.” I replied.
He rolled his eyes. Then he removed his seat belt, got up from the seat, and went in the direction of loo.
“I told you, we’ll be fine.” I mimicked him in my head.
I took out the in-flight magazine from the front storage and started turning pages full of advertisements.
“Boo,” I heard a voice, and dropped the magazine.
“Are you insane?” I asked, while Vikram laughed at his stupid act.
“Sorry,” he said, after sensing the anger in my tone.
He bent down. His hands brushed against my foot as he tried to grab the magazine.
“Thanks,” I said, while taking the magazine from his hand.
He came closer, and touched his biceps to my shoulder. I didn’t move.
“So, a single girl on a self-exploration trip. Interesting.”
“When did I say I am single?”
“You don’t have to say,” he replied, and pointed at my finger.
Then I noticed his finger which had a ring. I moved my shoulder away from his touch.
“It’s because of some horoscope shit that I am wearing this ring. I am not married,” he said. “Or engaged,” he completed his sentence.
Flight attendants, prepare for landing please.
He wore his seat belt again, and we didn’t speak with each other until we landed.
“Can I drop you to your hotel?” He asked.
“Thank you,” I said. “I am touched by your offer, but I am sorry I can’t allow that,” I said while picking up my bag from the baggage belt.
“Because that’s the point of my trip. I am out there on my own.” I replied with a smile.
We went silent for a while.
“Alright. Good night then.” He said, and focused on lighting his cigarette.
I felt sad to say “no” to him. Because as much as I wanted to be alone in that moment; I was soothed by his concern for me.
I walked on the clean London roads, and absorbed the silence of that dark night. Then I looked for a taxi and moved on.
My trip had just started.