By Adarsh Madhavan
Last August 3rd night I travelled from an airport in the Gulf on a flight to my hometown and now that seems like it was my last-ever flight. For, a series of events, one after the other, enveloped me in a dark, dirty and tight stranglehold from which I am still incapable of getting free. As is the case, the more I struggle to free myself, the tighter the grip. I did struggle at first. Like a prey in a predator’s jaw. Like a rodent in a serpent’s mouth.
But I couldn’t free myself. The grip just got tighter and I got weaker.
Cat and mouse game
But I am not ‘eaten’ or ‘swallowed’ as yet.
I don’t know why.
But I haven’t been let free either.
Maybe this is what they term a ‘cat and mouse’ game where the big cat catches the tiny mouse but somehow doesn’t seem that excited enough to eat it. (If you ain’t hungry, then, let me go, ‘Tom’(*)!)
Maybe the predator must have got bored and slept off after my initial struggle. Otherwise, it could be because I am all skin and bone. So the serpentine mind must be playing the waiting game, thinking that given time I might fatten up. But, I don’t think that I will ever get to satisfy that greed. For the more I am stuck between these fangs, the skinnier I will get. Maybe it prefers a scrunchy meal and must be waiting for me to go really dead and dry. Then it can snap me up like I am some human-potato chips.
No flight for the jinxed
To cut the crap, yes, that August 3rd night trip seems to have been my last-ever flight to and from anywhere.
From then on I have not been able to fly out because of reasons beyond my control. Not that I couldn’t buy a ticket. Well, truth is that I couldn’t but there were kind members of the family who bought me a ticket but I still couldn’t get on the flight.
Well, something like that.
From then on, try as I might, I couldn’t get on any flight.
Even though I reach the airport much before time and get checked in properly, baggage and me together weighing below the ‘danger’ level, I am still not allowed beyond passport control. For reasons that have been made very clear to me. For reasons that I can’t divulge here.
Pariahs can’t fly
Truth is that I came to see my ailing, aged mother. I came, I saw and was soon heading back to the airport – but whoa, things happened in between, right from the moment I landed and those were the circumstances that put me beyond getting back to where I came from. Nor, am I able to fly out anywhere. I am no longer welcome on board. I am reduced to a pariah status.
Hit a COVID ‘iceberg’?
It is unbelievable how carefully planned and near-well executed plans derail as though some COVID boulder suddenly rolled in front of it from the mountainous sky above; how even the ‘Titanic’s of plans hit a resolute iceberg in the middle of a stormy sea and sink it like a stone.
And whilst I was sinking, COVID leapt in to push me further down. But, thanks to COVID, I at least, have an excuse today. This is quite believable. They all understand that I am unable to go back to my work country because of the current virus ‘situation’.
Little lying tongue
Others, yaani those in the know, and even those who have an inkling, stare at me knowingly, wondering how my little tongue could hold such big lies? But what do they expect? That I go public and tell everyone the truth?
Go tell the truth, man
If I am a man, I should, the ‘man’ in me chides me.
I think for a while. And then I make this big decision. It is better, I think. I should not make a fool of people. I should just tell them the truth.
Maybe I should just pull back the curtain. Tell it like it is instead of lying through my teeth.
Open it, shut it, forget it
Go on, do it, says my mother conscience as it knelt and prayed that I deliver myself from all evil. Amen.
And I clear my throat. I open my mouth and…
Maybe next time. I ain’t a man yet, buddy. Let truth twiddle its thumbs and wait!
And for the moment, travel for me is like what food is to the starving.
(*) as in ‘Tom & Jerry’.