Flash fiction of a plane caught in a storm
|The flight was full. Recaps of treasured moments split the quietude of the otherwise quiet interiors. It was evident that the bulk of the plane’s occupants comprised a single traveling group. I watched in fascination as boxes of goodies passed hands with surprising efficiency. The aisle seat provided me a panoramic view of the festivities unfolding. The middle-seat neighbor on my left raised his hands to intercept one of the packages. I realized he too belonged to this august gathering.
With barely concealed curiosity, I peeked in. Neatly arranged savories from the city we had departed from made my mouth water. A second smaller box contained multi-colored sweets. A generous splash of orange and red spoke of forbidden tastes and excessive sugar. The portly gentleman held out the box with a smile. I responded in kind and gently nodded my head in refusal.
“Specialty from Jaipur,” he coaxed. I took a small portion out of politeness. It tasted heavenly, and he presented the open container once more. I took one more piece and closed my eyes.
The plane had now steadied itself at the height where the captain announced that we could take off our seat belts and move around if needed and requested we strap ourselves in otherwise, as a precaution.
To my right, a beautiful girl ignored the harmless prater around us. I didn’t recognize her. Some of my fellow passengers nudged each other, pointing to her. From the smattering of conversations, it seemed like she was an upcoming actress from Tinseltown. Even with her eyes closed and her expensive headsets on, it was obvious how she felt about her fellow passengers. Her supercilious lips curled in disdain as she judged all around her for their seemingly uncouth behavior.
A sudden shiver shook the aircraft. A streak of lightning lit up the plane for a brief instant. Two of the folks in charge of the food supply chain staggered and stumbled. A large gentleman almost fell over the actress (whose name I learned was Sabina). During the peak of the supply chain process, the box caught in his hand fell on her lap, emptying its contents on her floral skirt. He quickly righted himself, with profuse apologies.
Sabina yanked off her headphones. Her eyes afire, she screamed at him.
“Do you people have no culture? Am I a dust bin to you?”
The gentleman apologized again. “I’m so sorry, ma’am. I lost my balance due to the turbulence.”
She would have none of it.
“As it is, you are creating a racket here like it’s your own house. On top of that, you are throwing food on me and falling on me.”
Three seats ahead of me, a lady stood up. She was in no mood to listen to this tirade.
“Hey! You can’t talk to my husband like that! He already apologized. Why would he fall on you on purpose? Can’t you understand it was an accident?”
As she spoke, she advanced towards the girl.
One should never underestimate the power in numbers. Five more women sprouted up. At that moment, the seatbelt signs went on, and the captain, with more important things on her mind than the scattering of food, spoke.
“Ladies and gentlemen, please return to your seats. We are going through some rough weather.”
I heaved a sigh of relief as the warring faction settled down. Sabina looked a bit scared at the intense reaction she had caused.
Few more minutes went by in an uneasy quiet, and then the plane shuddered and bounced. Priorities shifted from food to survival in an instant. My neighbor clutched my arm.
“Are we going to be okay?” he whispered.
I patted his arm and said nothing.
The captain’s disembodied voice once again rent the airwaves.
“Folks, I am sorry to inform you that we will be unable to land in Bangalore.” The tarmac is flooded. It’s been raining forever there. We thought we would be cleared for landing, but it’s gotten worse since we took off.”
Everyone started speaking at once, and some began to get out of their seats. The flight attendants tried in vain to calm people down.
A moment later, the captain appeared. She was a tall slim lady who looked like she could take care of any challenge that came her way.
“Hello everyone, I am Captain Archana. Please settle down. There’s nothing to worry about. We will land in a small airfield in a few minutes. It is dry, and we will wait out the storm.”
Again, voices crowded the air competing for attention.
Captain Archana raised her hand with her palm out.
“You all need to help me by being calm. It’s just a precaution, and we want to keep you all safe. Please sit down and relax.”
Her voice had the desired effect. The rumbles died down.
The plane began its descent, and as smooth as can be, we taxied on the runway without further incident. The rain continued to splatter the windows, and the tarmac shone with moisture.
Our captain deftly stopped the aircraft and returned to us with a smile that belied her stress.
“We will have to spend a few hours here, folks. Only till we get clearance.”
She eyed the food, and her face lit up. The unstable gentleman from yore jumped up and handed her a box.
The captain smiled, and she dug in happily.
We must have been there for three hours, and by then, everyone had become a friend.
Hunger gnawed at Sabrina’s insides. Her ego still reigned supreme, but her eyes gave away her true feelings.
Without a word, the same gentleman offered the girl a box.
Tears streaming down her face, the girl meekly accepted and gave the gentleman a look of gratitude.
He smiled, waved his hand dismissively, and turned away in embarrassment.