Art by Vidya ChinnappaJust like any other day, I couldn't sleep and just like any other day, I was reading, watching a Turkish classic serial. The grandeur, harem, numerous concubines plotting against each other, killing some, saving some... The majestic palaces, not to forget the most handsome Padishah, his pale green eyes lush as a meadow on a spring gay day, freezing and turbulent on an outdoorsy, angry day... I was so much in love with this Padishah, just like Hurrem Sultanum. I wouldn't hesitate to poison any woman who gets closer to him. You could say I am in love with this Padishah who lived centuries back.."The magnificent century". Who am I kidding? A man who had a harem full of women, who were prepared for him everyday. Looks like he had so much energy. Hurrem sultanum who only had two jobs, 1) plotting death on whoever tried to enter his majesty's chamber 2) Announcing "I am pregnant". While I hated myself watching such a serial, it intrigued me as well. I got addicted to Turkish. The sing song language. Started to pick words in Turkish. No. It's not a romantic serial, it's full of unsolved murder mysteries.
It was 3 AM already and I still couldn't sleep . The wretched cough, not only affected me, it woke the whole neighborhood and I downed some Benadryl hoping for remedy, if not for cough, at least for my insomnia.
Art by Vidya Chinappa
I can't even imagine, how I gathered courage to sit on that battered airplane that rattled it's way on the runway. No glass windows. The windows were open. The wind hit heavily and my ears buzzed with the force of wind and I had to keep my teeth pressed fearing a breathing difficulty. The plane did take off. I could see the crowded suburbs below me. Several feet below. The familiar weight hovering over my insides; the fear of heights. I removed my glasses, the way we used to when we ride a roller coaster. The air was getting colder. Wished I had a wrap. Jaws froze. When I believed I will break into two, the airplane hicupped, stopped for a second, plunged down. There were no screams, no warning from pilot, no air hostesses, no stewards, just me, not defying gravity accepting without choice. There was a 'thud', the pilot maneuvered the plane on a terrace of the battered house. I opened the door struggling, trying to feel my legs. I was standing at the edge of terrace and alas! my head started to swim. The woman in navy blue cotton sari (corporation uniform), pulled me back. I stared at her as she brushed me off, called out to the boys on the road with a nod. I stared. I shook myself when I realized the woman was talking to me. She was saying something about makeshift runway. Uh! Runway? She asked me to remove the grills that served as parapet wall of the terrace. Like an automaton, I tried shaking the grill hard and it loosened and I managed to remove one. Slowly I started to remove the rusted grills with bare hands. I watched from the cloud above, watching me working, the woman commanding all the while wondering who that woman was, her tone quite colloquial. She pried the driver seat open, hopped inside and started the plane to check if it still worked and the sound of engine, made her nod with satisfaction, she hopped back down. She made the boys fetch cardboard boxes, the grills, the cartons from a godown and arranged them to connect to the next house roof. The street lights were used as pillars to support the make shift runway. She kept shouting we just got 10 more minutes. She threw an oil container to a boy and asked him to get petrol, "just incase", I heard her say. "OK", she called out. "Get in", she said to me and I nodded and got in. She hopped into her seat again and started the engine, it spluttered but started. With a loud cheer from the kids, the airplane lifted like a chopper, not even using the make shift runway. The glasses slowly raised itself to close the window, the not so distinct hum, the air hostesses started helping the passengers, a stylish English accent of a woman announcing the altitude, temperature outside while the seat belt warning lit up. I reached for the seat belt, my rusty hands the only reminder that it wasn't a dream, as I looked at the fluffy clouds and distant lights announcing the arrival of the destination *indistinct murmur*. I turned to look at the European guy sitting at the aisle seat. I smiled trying to fish for a paper towel to clean my rusty hands if in case I land in London Heathrow... I couldn't feel my hands. My brain stuffed with layers and layers of wool. I tried to peel one layer after other. The continuous nag of that ringing.
I woke up, looked for my hand bag, my eyes falling on my phone, alarm ringing.