It is 11th October 2019. Amitabh Bachchan’s birthday, that he gladly shares with my father, ahem, “happy birthday Papa.” I am returning from my husband’s farmhouse in Jharsuguda, Odisha with a part of the immediate family. The part of the immediate family travelling comprises of the legally wedded husband, the six year old vibrantly inquisitive daughter and my magnetic self. The other part is Mom and Dad-in-law, they hate the city life. Especially the well-garnished , gaudy, ostentatious high life in Kolkata. Mom-in-law hails from Raipur, she is a free bird, very unlikely the showy materialistic Marwaris of Kolkata. Also, she is the one who taught me self love, independence and the importance of substantial accomplishments to indulgence. She fought and won a fierce battle for me against the influential and mighty Dad-in-law for letting me work. I’m grateful. Already missing her I guess. Oh yes! We are a small family. Reason: I’m patriotic. The Nation Needs To Know : controlling population is important.
Right now, here I’m on flight SG3282 SpiceJet Bombardier. It is an eighty seater small plane, with fans in its wings. The red service trolleys are way too petite and small edged. The head luggage space is also minuscule with lesser space than normal air buses. I try keenly researching on air planes, but my weak understanding of aeronautics tirelessly restricts me. There are twenty rows of four seats each with the narrow aisle running in the middle.
This time instead of my happily ever after companion, that I fondly call my adorable iPad, I carried a Murakami book in my cabin bag. It’s lighter, limits my screen time and it is PEACEFUL reading. I can thoughtfully state many more reasons. It’s a win-win affair. That’s what it looked like in the first appearance.
As I have already mentioned, on this flight we are seated in twos. The daughter’s obvious preference was my legally wedded husband, her father. Who likes a nagging mum always giving gyaan (lectures in Hindi) and pestering to read as much as possible. I’m seated next to the uncle in the green T-shirt in the snap. This Fidgety Uncle looks a lot like my birth father, who also has his birthday today. Oh you must be thinking, I’m way too good looking (modestly) to be my father’s daughter. Once in your life, you got to trust me, no DNA test required here. Alright.
In barely an hour’s flight, he has managed to move his hands, legs, neck, torso, arms and elbows umpteen times. Let me be very clear, Fidgety Uncle isn’t the lecherous, libidinous kinds, he is simply senile and declining decrepit. Not that I have never come across a lewd one. In fact I have befriended, unfriended and blocked one quite recently, as I wanted to stay close to one of his younger acquaintances. Coming back to Fidgety uncle. When I first headed towards sitting next to him, the husband warned me. He was ready to swap. But my six year old has a sixty odd queries per hour, going by the count of the minute. I’m used to her jabbering jabberoni. It is stifling when she is quiet. As if she is up to something unexpectedly notorious. Today I wanted to read. I had planned to read Murakami, so I opted for the quiet. At least I thought I did, when I did. Quite in sync with my daughter’s feelings, even I needed peace, so I happily sat next to this peculiar looking, intricately pecked nosed, family oriented uncle. In fact, his family was on the other side of the narrow aisle. He also had a spouse and only one daughter. I guess he is also patriotic.
He looked eagerly scanning at me, as if I were from a different planet. The vigour with which he moved his elbow on the arm rest, felt like hustling houseflies. It made me reluctantly squeeze onto the window of my already squashed seat. As soon as I dipped into my Murakami, there would be a snort from his side. The legally wedded husband watched me intently from the corner of his eye. He again offered to switch places. I declined. Reason : No the reason isn’t the dotting daughter. And I still I want to read. Fidgety uncle took a whole of a good seven minutes to fasten his seat belt, with his daughter and the air hostess together assisting him. He didn’t take help. He wanted to do it himself. Though I quite appreciate his willingness to learn, I could visualise myself standing in my place, husband waiting on the aisle, Fidgety Uncle unfastening the belt, getting out of his seat giving me way, errr… and by that time we have already landed. He isn’t very old. He is just too restless, uneasy and a little agitated. Also he power naps for very short intervals, a minute or two, with his head wobbling on his pendulum neck, seemingly falling onto my arms, missing by a whisker. I can sniff through his smelly coconut hair odour. Not that I want to. Nor do I have any greater grudge against coconut oil. Just that it is way too irritating and disgusting, so much so, that I have to put down my book, ask husband for my phone and start writing on the One Note app. Whenever I face an extreme emotion, I need to write. Though Murakami is mesmerising, tugging and trailing, I just can’t read.
It looks like Karma in its most vicious Avatar, I dumped my adorable iPad companion for reading the beautiful black Murakami, which in turn devastated me, completing the circle of life. For the first time, my apple iPad, that under normal circumstances reigns over my Coaches and Kate Spades, unwillingly checked into the twenty four inches luggage suitcase, smirked at by denims and cottons. I was missing my happily ever after companion. Writing is my favourite thing while travelling and otherwise also. I write everywhere. It’s a norm. While in the terminal, on the flight, inside the airport bus, at the luggage belt, in the waiting lounge, I mean everywhere. Being a frequent traveller, half the CCU staff recognises me holding hands with my adorable companion. Oh I’m a good morning, good afternoon and a long Hellooo kinda person. May be, my refined manners make me memorable. I seem engulfed by modesty today. This too is inculcated by Mom-in-law I guess, as it can also be termed as a form of self love.
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