being brown

Day 1

Up through the atmosphere. Up where the air is clear.

I sat in my window seat with a huge sigh of relief. The tune of Abba’s chickitita started playing in the aircraft. Immediately, my tense muscles relaxed and I knew the holiday was on again. My lips formed a smile determined not to let anything ruin this. Kingfisher Airlines had taken away my thunder, albeit momentarily. I was supposed to fly out of Bangalore to Chennai at 7 am. I had called the cab last evening and asked for it to come by 4 am. It was just a precautionary move on my part because I hate to hurry and like to reach places before time. Also, I thought it might take longer since I was flying international from Chennai to Colombo. At midnight I receive a text from Kingfisher telling me my flight has been advanced to 6 am. For those of you know me, you know I wouldn’t have been able to sleep after that. Tossing and turning, worried sick about missing this flight, this promise to an escape from my current life, this one thing I felt I must do. And I discovered yet again, that worry doesn’t help the situation much. Anyway, there was little chance of me missing it since I called the cab early.

Unlike many people ( I have noticed this specially in the middle classes, but I think it could extend to anyone with an education), I don’t believe that India’s problems begin and end with her population. I mean that’s such a sorry excuse for what is a systemic failure in providing for people through an equitable distribution of resources. Nevertheless, the queue at Security Check was one of the rare moments when I felt like everybody other than me were superfluous to the country.

Such was my frame of mind as I plonked on to my seat exhausted, more because of the worry than the lack of sleep. ( I, personally, believe that this kind of exhaustion is more intense and can make you age well before your time!) I sent Marinha a text, telling her I made it after all. She was on her way to the airport in Mumbai, catching a slightly later flight to Chennai. Then, I called mum. Me being a chip of the old block meant that she was up in Mumbai, worrying her heart out. Her worry, though, will continue until I get back to Bangalore after my one-week fast track vacation. Such is motherhood. She had given me strict instructions to call when I reached the airport however late/early it was.

And as soon as I had finished these duties, the chickitita tune sprang up. I think it was the piano. My heart strolled back to its place having travelled all the way up to my throat as it usually does when nervous or tense.

It was a small plane with propellers on the wings and they were right outside my window. I watched as one lazily whirred while the other stood still. Soon they were both whirring and we were up in the air- up through the atmosphere, up where the air is clear.

I determined to write in the flight. I reach Chennai at about 7am. And then it’s a one-hour wait for Marinha. I know! Bummer, right? But that’s ok. I have two books that I have been meaning to read for a while now but haven’t gotten down to them yet. One is Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera. This is Ayun’s gift to me on my 24th birthday. Funny, I haven’t read it yet. The other is Half of a Yellow Sun by Adichie. I think I am pretty much set for this holiday.


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