“Sir! AG 323 has veered off the radar.”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“Yes sir. Look at this. I can’t see it at all.”
Over the next few minutes both of them tried desperately to contact the flight captain but were unsuccessful.
And then there was a phone call –
Five Months ago!
With its Victorian architecture and lush green surroundings, the Norman café looked like an epitome of beauty. The insides transformed into a world of peace, calm and tranquillity with strategically placed luxurious sofas and seats. It was regarded by many as the best place in town for coffee or to grab a quick bite.
I had grown tired of wearing the same white and blue apron for the past two years. But money issues had left me with little choice. Since leaving Ronnie, I had done odd jobs for a few years until I realised that enough was enough. Luckily for me, a common friend got me a job in Norman Café. Since then things in life had been stable to an extent.
For more than 30 years everything was such bliss. I remember all the guys in college trying to woo me. With my dusky looks, light brown eyes and a cheerful smile, the guys in the neighbouring colleges envied the ones in ours. But all that was left today were eyes lined by dark circles, wrinkles which reflected my age and a bulging tummy.
Ronnie wasn’t really the tall, dark and handsome kinds. Unlike everyone else at college who tried to woo me at every instant, he wasn’t the least bothered. It seemed as though he didn’t care at all and that really hurt my ego a lot.
“Why can’t you talk to me properly Ronnie? What’s wrong with you?” He had forced me to be something which I was not.
“Am I not talking properly?”
“Look at the way you are reacting to whatever I am saying.”
“You are thinking too much June. Anyway I have a lot of other work to do. We have the whole day to talk properly.”
And suddenly –
“Don’t you know that the customer at table 6 has been complaining on the delay of his coffee since the last few minutes?”
“Yes! Yes! I will look into it immediately.”
And I was awoken from my dream by another customer in a hurry. The cafe always attracted such customers in the mornings when people were in a hurry to reach their respective workplaces.
After serving him, I decided a take a ten minute walk outside. It felt really peaceful to be in solitude away from having to hear people shout around you be it the boss or the customer.
While everyone longed to go out with me and spend some time, Ronnie seemed bothered only about his work. It seemed as though he never had time for anything else.
“Hey Ronnie! Let’s go out for dinner tonight?”
“I am busy June. There’s so much to do but so little time. Why go for dinner? We can talk here itself, can’t we?”
“I hate you. Are you married to your work? You never seem to have time for anything else.”
“My family isn’t as rich as yours madam. I need to work hard to get a decent job after college.”
But he had this aura which pulled me towards him. Whenever he turned me down which was often, I felt all the more emboldened to get his attention. Guys had done so much to gain my attention in every way. And I loved it to bits. But here was a guy who made me come down from my lofty perch and I actually didn’t have any qualms about it. I guess that’s what happens when you fall in love.
With time, we did get married and had two children too. With a lovely and beautiful marriage, two nice little children, a happy and peaceful home, one couldn’t ask anything more from life. Obviously we did have our share of problems. Ronnie still loved his work and even brought it home at times. But then I thought that we would move beyond such issues? Probably I was wrong.
Why did we move apart? Why did life have something else in store for us? What mistakes did we commit? Why did our children move away? Why did our family break apart? He had his way with women but obviously there would have been something wrong with me for him to leave just like that. With all these questions running in my head, I walked back inside to hear my boss yelling as usual.
“Where the hell were you June? We all have been looking for you since the last fifteen minutes? Do you know that going out when customers are dancing on our heads isn’t the right thing to do?”
I just walked past him as if to show that I didn’t care a damn. He immediately held my hand tightly.
“What the hell do you think you are doing? You better go and serve that customer over there else you are sure to invite my wrath.”
I walked to the table with not a care in the world. This had become the story of each and every day of my life. But after that day, life wasn’t to be the same again.
His eyes looked at me as if searching for answers. The menu card fell off his hands as he saw me. It looked as if he had lost a lot more hair than when I had left him. His wife seemed to have fed him a lot of oily food which showed on his bulging belly. Was he married? Why was I bothering so much?
As I took the order and started walking away, he pulled me and said –
“What are you doing here June?”
“Sorry sir! I have a lot of work.” And I pulled my hand away and walked over to the kitchen. I wanted to ask him so many questions. But then it’s better to let bygones be bygones.
Months flying by!
Over the next couple of days, he started frequenting the café even more.
“How come you landed here June?”
“It’s a long story Ronnie. From where do you want me to begin?” Seeing him make an attempt to strike a conversation, I finally gave in.
“Begin from wherever you like.” He put his hand on mine to show that he cared. But I pulled it away instantly. Whether care or love or concern, I didn’t want any pity and especially not from him.
“It’s been a dull and dreary three years since you left me Ronnie. Why do you want to open old wounds? What will you get from it?”
He still didn’t have the courage to look into my eyes. I vividly remember the day when he left me for Maurice. There can’t be anything worse than when the person you love the most leaves you wondering what to make of your life.
“Relax Ronnie. I have gotten over all that. Today, life is a different ball game and I have different priorities.”
“I wish I could make things better June.”
“Leave it. You tell me what’s up with your life?”
Seconds became minutes, minutes became hours, hours became days, days became weeks, we started meeting regularly. I don’t know why I was doing this. I don’t know whether this was right. I don’t know what would be the consequences of this. But it felt good. I felt happy after a really long time. For some reason, there felt a sense of purpose in my life.
One Month ago!
But one day –
“Look at the newspaper June. Our kids have become the youngest twins to be inducted into MENSA. Can you believe that?” He sounded as excited as a kid while he handed me the newspaper.
They suffered the most when our relationship reached the point of no repair. I so wish we had stayed together just for their sake. And I was nostalgic yet again.
“But don’t you think it was good in a way that they got a special scholarship to study in Boston? Only the top 10 students in the world get such an opportunity.”
“Yeah it was good in a way since it didn’t affect their education. But I haven’t been able to see them ever since because of their school’s weird rules.”
For the first three years the school didn’t allow anyone from the family to visit their children. This was in line with their policy of making the kids face the world on their own at an early age. But I never seemed to understand such nonsense. Doesn’t a kid require the love and care of his parents?
But just to make me smile he changed the topic a bit.
“But just imagine June. Our children have become such great individuals. They have surely got their intelligence from me.” He exclaimed with great pride, the pride a father has whenever his children achieve something.
“You and intelligent? Why didn’t I ever realise that Mr?
“There are so many things you haven’t realised madam.”
“You could have given me a chance.”
Before this could lead to another round of serious discussions, I was quick in changing the topic.
“They are so far away. I wonder how they must be now. It’s been so many years since I have seen them. I really wish I could kiss them and say sorry for all the sufferings both of us have caused in their lives.”
“Let’s meet them then. What say?” He had this penchant for coming up with the craziest of ideas.
“Are you out of your mind?”
“No am not. And anyway it’s just a few hours away by flight. We can go and come in a few days. And c’mon, three years were over long time back.”
“But you have a family Ronnie. I shouldn’t be doing this. It’s not right.”
“You are not doing anything June. We are just going to meet our children. There’s no commitment amongst us. As for my family, I would tell them that am off on a business trip for a couple of days. Don’t worry.”
After a few minutes of pleading and convincing, we decided to book a ticket to Boston on Air Green for next month.
Half an hour ago
The plane was full with passengers going on holiday. With the perfect sun and sands, Boston was the ultimate beach destination for any holiday goer. And that’s why it attracted tourists in hordes.
For the first twenty minutes or so, things were relatively peaceful and quiet in the cabin as the flight climbed to 36,000 feet. Ronnie was bubbling with excitement and it was contagious.
“I will make their favourite dishes as soon as we reach. I still remember how much they loved my black forest pastries.”
“I think before planning all that, we need to search where do they exactly stay.” Ronnie tried to drill some sense into me.
“You are the one who are supposed to find out all that. Let me peacefully plan what all I am going to feed my kids. They looked so frail in their photo in the paper the other day.” I was already imagining how my days with the kids would go by.
A loud bang which shook the entire plane and everyone inside interrupted our thoughts. Was it an explosion? Was there a bomb in the flight? Whatever it was, it was really scary and terrifying.
After remaining stable for just 30 seconds, the plane flipped to the right. Then as people had just started to come to grips with the situation, it flipped to the left. By now everyone had realised that they were in grave danger. The entire cabin resonated with the shrieks and cries of help.
I saw the pain and terror in Ronnie’s eyes as we saw death in the face. That is the most haunting image of my life and I can never forgive myself for not being able to save him.
The flight didn’t remain stable after finally crashing nose down into the lake next to the main highway.
Those 15 minutes from the loud bang to the crash were the most horrific moments of my life. It felt as though I had no control on anything and God was making me dance on his fingers.
Initially, from what I could make out, there were many survivors as people kept crying out for help to the ones in the cars at the motorway. Luckily for them, the plane just missed the motorway by inches. But the inclement weather was making rescue operations difficult.
With each passing minute, the cries kept reducing and the noise began to drown in the traffic on the motorway. I could feel a chill run down my spine wondering about my injuries and whether I would survive.
“A flight has crashed in the lake just next to the main highway.”
The worst fears came true for everyone at the Air Traffic Control Tower. But in my life there was nothing to fear about anymore.
As I sit in the hospital without the ability to see the world, I wonder if this was the cruel twist god had in his armoury.