As the plane started moving on the runway, ready to take off, she glanced outside the window one last time. The vision was blurry from all the tears and smudged kajal—so all she could see were bright spots and a rain washed horizon. In the next few seconds, Bombay looked like a little piece of land owned by a rich farmer, sitting pretty by the beautiful Marine Drive. She clutched the Boarding Pass tightly in her sweaty palms, threw her head back on the seat and shut her eyes tight.
Till the very end, even right before boarding the flight, a part of her had believed that he will come to stop her at the airport. Yes, it’s not a movie—she knows that. But after all these years, she thought he would at least try one last time. Sadly, this is real life, and it is bitter like the gourd you were forced to eat as a child. Whether you like it, or not.
She crinkled her right eye open when the air-hostess announced that people can now use their laptops and i-Pods. Her head was heavy and was about to explode from the splitting headache. She was wearing the same sweatshirt since the last three days and the long, straight hair was tied up in a messy bun. She did not care about how she looked at that point—because her world had come crashing down. She glanced sideways to realize that the 40-something-uncle beside, was gaping at her.
She shifted a little uncomfortably on her seat and glanced again. Still staring.
“Are you okay, beta?” he finally asked.
“Mmm hmm,” she mumbled with an awkward smile, followed by an “Excuse me,” and got up to go to the washroom.
She couldn’t believe the reflection that she saw on the mirror. Black patches of kajal under her eyes made her look straight out of a goth magazine. The eyes were red and puffy, and her loose bun had almost come undone. She realized that she has not eaten a morsel in the last 48 hours and surprisingly, she wasn’t even hungry.
She splashed some water on her face and looked at the mirror. And there he was.. with his lopsided toothy grin, smiling right back at her. She let out a sigh and rubbed the condensed mirror frantically with both her hands.
He was gone.
Back in her seat, she put her i-Pod on shuffle mode and tried to distract her mind with music. Exactly after 3 minutes and 22 seconds, she realized it was a bad idea because ‘Lady’ by Styx popped up on the playlist like a stinging bee.
Her mind went racing back to that afternoon when he had played the guitar, sang this song from her favorite TV show ‘Freaks and Geeks’ and had professed his love for her.
“Laaady, when you’re with me I’m smiling
Give me oh-oh-oh all your loveeee” he had sung awkwardly, while she had thrown her head back and giggled loudly.
“Oh my Nick Andropolis, you!” she had pulled his cheeks and said.
This was at least 4 years back, when she had red streaks on her hair and he used to sport a french beard! Oddly, that memory crinkled her lips into a big smile.
“Ma’am, do you want anything from the cart?”
Her train of thoughts were interrupted by the air-hostess with perfectly drawn winged eye-liner and a carefully tied bun with 100 hair clips in place.
“Um. No, thanks. Okay, a Pepsi can maybe,” she said slowly.
She put the music back on, and closed her eyes.
“Lady of the morning
Love shines in your eyes
Sparkling, clear and lovely
You’re my ladyyyyy”
Tears were streaming down her face and she couldn’t care less. She just wanted to go home. She wanted to hug her dad. And, her cat.
When she booked the flight ticket this morning, she didn’t even know what she was doing. All she knew was, she couldn’t stay in Bombay anymore. The city is too much about them.. about him.
“Dad, I’m coming home this evening. Pick me up from the airport at 9:30 pm,” is all she had managed to say before hanging up.
The flight was starting to descend and below lay her beautiful hometown of Calcutta—all lit up and pretty. She pressed her palm and nose on the window and gasped.
Home. A little voice in her head said.
As she buckled the seat belt on, she asked herself the same question for the 400th time in the last three days. ‘Why did you leave me and go? After 4 years, you just ended things and went away? How could you? I hate you.’
It was pouring in Calcutta. As she came out of the airport slowly dragging her lone suitcase, she looked at the sky. She let the rain wash her inside out—her body, mind and soul. And then she saw it. Her father was standing far with another man she has never seen before. Both huddled under a big black umbrella, her father smiled and waved at her.
“So she still believes he is alive?” asked the man next to her father.
“Yes, its been 4 days since the accident, Dr. Mukherjee. In her head, she still believes he just left without a goodbye. She has asked me at least 200 times in the last 3 days that, ‘”Baba, how could he break up with me?’ Our only daughter, Dr. Mukherjee…” his voice was welling up.
“Was he drinking while driving?”
“No, his friend was drunk and driving, who survived. He was sitting beside him, and he couldn’t. Spot dead.”
“Don’t cry in front of her. There she comes. We will get through this. I’ll try my best,” said psychiatrist Dr. Mukherjee, as the lights faded in the horizon.