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Wednesday, 6 November 2013

The Girl In the Black Jacket

It was my first on board project. No Doubt I was excited. In the evening my manager called me up. I said to myself, “Now what?”, though he is a gem of a human being but I just hate to take advices before any big moment. But not visiting him was not an option. As I stepped inside his cabin my feet were already forcing me to step out. He said just one line, “This is the make or break moment, you know the best how to deal with it”. I didn’t know how to react, just a little nod of the head and I moved out. As usual flood of thoughts hit my mind. (I guess thoughts hit you more than alcohol, it’s the thoughts and not the alcohol that take you on a high).

Night was quite edgy. At that moment by biggest worry was my early morning flight at 6am. The biggest dilemma was whether to sleep or not. It was already 1 am and 6am flight meant I should be out of my domicile by 4am. My cab was already booked and bags were all packed. By all calculations I had at max 2 hours to give my eyes some rest. I decided not to sleep (and at the same time decided not to trust my eyes ). Hardly 10 minutes had passed when I felt someone was playing loud drums just next to me. I wished that noise to stop at that very moment. I tried hard to stop it but all my efforts were in vain. My mind was agonizingly close to bursting when I opened my eyes. “Oh, not this time” was the first thought that struck my mind. I searched for my mobile, much to my relief it was still 3.40am. Those 10 minutes were actually a lot more than that. It was late November and temperatures were already on the colder side. Leaving bed after 2 hours of sleep was one of the most hideous tasks one came across. But still I was out of bed in a jiffy.
I reached airport well before time. Had I told dad about this, he would have been proud of this achievement. No emergency packing, no emergency search for Cab and reaching airport on time, these were all signs of me maturing up and I had always feared this. I just love the little careless, irresponsible, silly side of me. People taking care of me, reminding me of small things, I love when I was chided by someone close to me. I was used to such attention and that’s why was so reluctant to grow up. But that ship has sailed I guess and don’t know when I started taking care of myself.

Another advantage of reaching early at the airport was a confirmed window seat. Like majority of people on this planet I just love the window seat. Every time I boarded a flight and was just next to the clouds outside or sometimes even above them, I had just one question, “Now how far is God”?
Nobody gave me any answer, nor did I desire for it much because I always felt God is very close to me, in fact to every1 of us.

I took my boarding pass and headed towards waiting room. It was still 5am and I had to find ways to kill time. There was a lot of empty space in the waiting hall but no seat seemed comfortable to me. I took two full rounds of that hall and was confused as to what I’m exactly looking for. In mid of that hall there was a circular seat which was almost empty. I am still not sure what was going in my mind at that time but that circular seat seemed perfect as per my requirement.

I switched on my laptop to update the world about my where about but only after 5 minutes felt some empty space in my stomach. I scanned around for possible options. In fact was still scanning when I saw a blurred image coming towards me. For some strange reasons I got glued to that image.

As that image grew in size it seemed that she was appearing out of thin air or say out of dense fog. Everything else appeared to have gone in an obscure mode. Needless to say she was a beautiful girl. As she came closer my surroundings came back to normal state. Looking stunning in a black jacket, hair neatly tied up, big beautiful eyes, a walk full of confidence but a little tensed she appeared to be in some state of confusion. Before she could notice me staring with wide eyes I calmed myself down and pretended to be busy in my biosphere. Though I guess she hardly noticed me. She sat just next to me. As my pumping heart came back to usual rate I realised I was searching for food before that lightening in black jacket struck me. I decided first I should give my stomach some harmony then I will take care of my heart. I went to the nearest food counter and was flipping through the menu when I saw her get up from that circular seat, walk right across me and go to the other side of the hall. I would not say that I was sad to see her go away but yes I was neither happy.

This all hardly lasted for 5 minutes but it appeared as so much had happened over it. I was thinking about all this when I heard someone talking loudly on phone. At first instance I ignored that voice but when I realised it was a female voice I looked up with a hope to see her again. To my much surprise that voice belonged to her. She was back and so were my smiles. I didn’t know how to react. Although I was not looking at her but all my senses were following her very closely. She was sitting just next to me so listening to what she was talking about was not a tough ask.

“Yaar, I missed my flight. I was only 3 minutes late. Anyways they have told me to wait. They will try and board me in the next flight. Hmm.. Ya let’s see what happens...” She briefed her friend (and at the same time updated me also) about her current state of affairs.

By the time she ended her call I was still not ready as how to begin the tête-à-tête with her. Sometimes my natural instincts just overcome my inhibitions. And that was just one of those moments.

“So you missed your flight”, I said in a casual tone, gulping down my sandwich and giving more attention to my laptop than her.

“Yes, but I was only 4 minutes late (Oh Girl, I know this fact, I thought and sported a hidden smile)
“See, only 4 minutes late”, she showed me her boarding pass in which it was written 4 minutes late.
“So what now”, I asked?

“Hmm, they have told me to wait, if they have a vacant seat in the next flight I will get that. I hope I do”, her eyes becoming bigger as she spoke the last few words.

“And what time is the next flight”, I asked.
“7am”, came a prompt reply.

“Yaar, I fly so frequently, I never miss my flight, I don’t know how this happened”, came out her frustration.
“There is 1st time for everything”, I said with a smirk.

“So have you ever missed your flight?” she was much more relaxed now compared to 5 minutes earlier.
“Almost, Once”, I replied back thinking about that when I almost missed my flight and that too when I was boarding flight for my first international trip.

Suddenly she realised that it was also important to introduce.
“Hi. I’m …..” (Well let’s keep that name a secret; I don’t intend to offend anyone) and she put her hand out for a handshake.

“I’m Mohit”, I had a light hand shake and this time I couldn’t hide my grin from her.
“Hey, what time is your flight?” She asked.

Good that she asked, It had almost elapsed my mind that I was at the airport to catch my own flight.
“6.30” I said, with a side glimpse of my watch at the same time. It was 5.30.

“I think you should leave now”, She also realised I had less time on hand.
I also knew it was time to leave. But I was reluctant.

“I guess there is still some time left”, I acted as if flight will take off on my discretion.
In our further conversation that lasted for close to 15-20 minutes I learnt that she worked with one of the leading news and media agency and was going to Mumbai to complete her promotion formalities.
It was 5.50 and now there was no option but to leave. I said good bye and moved towards the check-in counter. I turned once more may be just to share some smiles but she was completely lost in herself.
It took all my breaths to catch my flight and once I was in, a slideshow of last 30 minutes was in front of my eyes.

No doubt she had a situation in hand, but I realised sense of panic was way off from her. She was confident, knowledgeable, calm and composed. That Girl in the Black Jacket was a woman of substance, a woman of today.

I am not a great believer in destiny, but when I look back those 30 minutes I am quite sure we were destined to meet for reasons which are still unknown to me.

Over the next few days, through my research, I learnt that she was a Capricorn like me, and shared her birthday with Fareed Zakaria, current editor of TIME magazine and one of those people I admire in my life. She also wrote blogs and her way of expressing was quite like me. I also connected with her on one the social platforms. She was quite surprised on seeing my request and much more surprised on how I found her. I had only one answer “I am a researcher by profession”.
Of all those readers wondering what happened next between us, I am sorry to disappoint you but nothing happened next. My eagerness to talk to her over shadowed my earlier connection with her. I guess she saw me as a liability to talk to. But I had myself to blame for.
But when I think about that morning it still makes me smile. That girl in the Black Jacket will always remain a part of my fond memories. One good story I can share with my children and grand-children. I still hope I will have a different ending to tell when I share this story some years down the line. 

“He that lives upon hope will die fasting.”
Benjamin Franklin

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