I am going to Fly
Hi! My name is Baby and I am a 4 year old girl.
It is the summer of 1975 in Patna- capital of State of Bihar. If one personifies India into Mother India, then Patna would quite well be her heart.
Patna was submerged under 3-4 feet of water due to the heavy monsoon rains and overflowing of the rivers. There was so much water everywhere. The occasional helicopter would drop food items onto the roof of buildings. Water had not entered my grandparent’s home. A boat would come to pick up my Nana (Mother’s Father) to take him to office. I found everything quite exciting.
Then the water receded. Life was back to normal. School reopened. My Nana’s House Peon would drop me to school on his cycle or just carry me to school. I didn’t like school. You had to listen to the teacher and keep sitting on your bench. How boring. I didn’t know proper Hindi. All I knew was the language of my Nani and that of the peon, which was Magadhi. In school I was being taught Hindi and English.
There was one good day in school, when a magician had come to perform. How did he pull out sharp blades from inside his mouth? How did he pull out length after length of streamers from his throat? This was not at all boring but got me thinking. Conclusion- Well, he is a magician so why bother as to how he did what he did.
My father had gone very far to study something big. It was almost a year since he had gone. My Mother, 6 year old elder brother, 2 year old baby sister and myself were living at my mother’s parent’s place. What Fun!
One day there was some kind of serious talk of my mother and us siblings going to where my father was. My father had taken a loan to purchase our travel tickets.
Nani got worried. How could my mother (just 28 yrs old) take her three kids by herself and travel to a far off land, the land where my father was living.
Nani suggested that I be left with them. I could not have been happier. But my Nana objected. He said that all three kids should go with their mother. That was that.
I was fearful of change. I loved my freedom.
From Patna we travelled east to Calcutta to get our ‘Visas’ for London, UK. So much effort. It was then that I got to know that we would be flying on an aeroplane to reach father. Wow! This was going to be fun, I thought. I had recently seen helicopters in the sky and now I was going to fly in the sky.
The day came when I had to say bye to my class teacher. I could not have been happier.
We four, along with grandparents, reached Delhi by Train. Then we went to the Airport to catch the plane. My grandparents said bye to the four of us. My Nani gave me a hankie.
My mother was carrying my little sister and my brother was walking next to her. All of a sudden it struck me that my Nana and Nani will not be there with us. I was a bit shaken. My mother understood my feelings and called me. I walked close to her. Then we went from one checking point to another.
We then walked into a tunnel sort of route and were then asked to get seated on chairs that were in rows. Time went by and I was getting impatient as to when we would sit in a plane and fly high in the sky. ( I had no idea that I was already sitting inside the plane). It was night and nothing was visible outside. I wanted to cry. I had my Nani’s hankie to wipe my tears with. My mother’s hands were full, she could not hold me. But I knew I was safe.
Some more time passed. There was some announcement. My mother got worried. All sitting people were asked to leave their seats and walk out of the door. Just outside the door there were big stairs to climb down from. It was then that I realised that I was getting off a plane. We had been flying all this while. This was it? How could it be?
The actual problem was that we had not reached London, but landed in Kuwait. Reason- a bird had hit the plane as a result of which the pilot had to do an emergency landing. Such a big plane being hit by a small bird and the plane getting hurt- how absurd!
I sensed a lot of tension on my mother and brother’s faces. There was tension everywhere. My mother was talking with this uniformed person in Hindi and broken English. My brother was trying to help in the conversation. My mother insisted that she get to talk to her husband, who was waiting for her in London.
We were escorted to a waiting room. It was full of people. It was scary. I would have preferred the zoo instead. Then we were given a room to rest in.
I don’t know how many hours went by before we were again walking from one check point to another. We walked through another tunnel and were then given seats to belt ourselves into. This time I knew that we were sitting in a plane.
We finally reached London. My father was waiting for us. He had travelled from Cardiff to London to receive his family. He had been waiting for us for 44 hours in the Airport. The fear of losing his family evaporated. My parents were happy.
I was glad that the boring plane rides were over. I braced myself for a big change in life. I realised that I was surrounded by more white than brown.
( This is based on real life incidents)