After late-night flight, heart went to war with mind

After a late-night flight, my heart went to war with my mind

Human, After All

Anubha George can keep a secret even while telling the story@anubha.george

The flight from Kochi to Thiruvananthapuram was delayed three hours. I got to the airport at 7.30 pm, giving myself plenty of time for departure at 9.50 pm. Three announcements, no explanation from the airlines, plenty of shrugged shoulders and rolled eyes later, we finally took off at 1 am. It was frustrating, not least because the journey itself is less than 45 minutes. You might ask, why didn’t I just take the train. Well, it was an emergency -- more about that another time. 

The flight was full. We all sat in our seats, dozing off. But I’ve now come to realise that life is always eventful and full of drama. Fact.  

A very well-known South Indian actress was on the flight. Just as we were nodding off, she decided to walk all the way from her front row seat to use the toilet right at the back. Let’s just say that was enough to keep people wide awake for the rest of the flight. They nudged each other, whispered, looked around excitedly, while the actress walked all the way back from the toilet to her front row seat. 

We landed. It was 1.45 am. I’m normally the last person to get off the flight. You know, one of the chilled passengers. But that night, I was one of those who take their seat belt off even before the plane comes to a halt. I was talking loudly to an Uber driver even before the air hostess said “You can now use your mobile phones”. I pushed and shoved right to the front. I wanted to be the first out. I didn’t care about the VIP actress on the flight. Or that the air steward thought I was nuts. 

But one man beat me to it. He must have been in his 70s. He wore a white shirt, grey trousers and clutched on to a briefcase in his arms, as if it was a baby. I was right behind him. Suddenly, he seemed to lose his balance. He stopped for a second. I stopped, too. But then he was okay and walked on. 

At some point, I overtook him. It was nearly 2 am. My phone rang. It was the people I was staying with. Had I got the taxi yet, the lady asked. No, I said, I’m making my way out. Alright, I’m waiting up for you, she said. That made me walk even faster.

Thud. I heard a sound. I turned to look. It was the elderly gentleman. He had fallen. I stopped. People rushed to help. I didn’t. After turning to look, to be a spectator, I walked on. In the arrivals hall, people were taking selfies with the actress. There was a buzz. 

I thought of the man, the one I hadn’t helped. If I had asked if he was okay right at the first instance when I had seen him lose balance, maybe he wouldn’t have fallen.

Yet again, I pushed the thought out of my mind. I got my bag from the carousel and walked out. A Range Rover with blacked-out windows was waiting for the actress. Policemen and photographers were crowding around it. The circus has to go on. 

I got into the Uber. Why hadn’t I helped the man? It was very late at night, I consoled myself gently. There’s a lady waiting for me, my mind reasoned. She’ll offer me something to eat, we’ll chat for a while -- it will be 3.30 am before she goes to bed. Shouldn’t I be considerate towards her? I don’t know the roads in Thiruvananthapuram, so my safety comes first, I told myself again. Sometimes, you just have to put yourself first, my brain told me sternly, laying the argument to rest, as I settled into the cab. 

Just then, the paramedics rushed to the airport exit. I saw the man being carried on the stretcher and into an ambulance. Yet again, a battle began between my heart and my head.