He was in his white T-shirt and blue jeans smiling at them with their luggage. She looked at him with all her love.
The plane was about an hour late. Oh Bother! Why does this always happen to me? She thought. OK I’ll do what I am best at, she told herself, and started looking around. She had been in the US for over four years but even she never felt at home here. ‘Will I ever get used to it?’ She asked herself silently.
There were a couple kissing in the corner. That sight seemed to give her the answer. She mumbled, “No Never!’ She tried to see if there was anyone from her country – India. Yes there were a few. Her eyes zeroed in one a really handsome guy seated right in front of her glancing thru a magazine. He was trim, dressed in light-yellow T-shirt and black Jeans.
She was hooked. More than the looks she always went for the way a person dressed and much as she hated to admit it she thought that the dress sense of the Indian male was atrocious. And there he was defying the laws of Indian dress code. He could be… He arrested her thoughts. Stop it! she chided herself. He might be married for all I know.
He suddenly looked up and saw her watching him. Whoops! she shifted her gaze but he had caught her. She felt his eyes questioning her but she stubbornly looked away. ‘The boarding of Air India Flight 121 to Mumbai will start shortly’ came blaring on the loud speaker.
She got up collecting her handbag and the airbag. He got up too and went to the customer service desk. She followed him with her eyes. He was tall. Too good! She liked tall people. He seemed well built and seemed to have a purposeful stride. Oh yeah, he was the perfect man and I am behaving like an infatuated teenager, she scolded herself.
She was boarding the flight and was invaded with a feeling of excitement. After four years she was going to India to visit her family. She momentarily forgot about him as she looked for her seat. She made her way through the aisle and settled down, still lost in the thoughts of her family and friends she was going to meet after such a long time. She had just been seated for a minute looking out of the window when a deep throaty voice said, ‘Excuse me’.
Even without looking she knew it was the same guy addressing her. She turned and was greeted with a smile. 1000 watts?? or Million dollars?? Which way should I describe that?
‘You are in my seat, Miss’ he said sweetly.
‘Oh, am I?’ she started to get up.
‘No that’s fine I can sit here,’ he said taking the seat next to her.
‘Thank You,’ she smiled back sweetly.
Well, it was going to be an interesting trip back home. They didn’t say much to each other until the plane took off. He buried himself in the magazine and she was content to look outside with a feeling of euphoria that she was on her way at last. She looked with a smile as New York City was left behind getting smaller and smaller. She turned and saw him watching her.
‘You seem to be very happy,’ he said.
‘Oh Yeah! I am looking forward to seeing my family after four years,’ she replied
‘That’s a long time’
‘I am going to visit my in-laws,’ he said matter of factly.
Damn, all her fantasies came crashing down. So Mr. Perfect was a married man.
‘That’s nice,’ she said, nice my foot she told herself.
‘Its going to be a long trip and I am glad we are together. It’s nice to be traveling with you. Time passes quickly with someone beautiful,’ he said.
So Mr. Perfect is not so perfect after all. Married and flirting. She started to tell him off but found herself answering, ‘It passes quickly with a handsome man too’.
She was aghast. Here she was flirting back with a married man. OK he was young and handsome but that was no excuse. What harm was there flirting and passing the time pleasantly? Another voice asked her. He smiled knowingly. They talked for a long time, about their families, friends, jobs and everything else under the sun.
‘There! That’s not so bad,’ she told herself. Just being friends she comforted herself.
After the meal they started watching the movie. Her eyes were feeling heavy and she dozed off. When she got up she found her head resting on his shoulder, broad shoulder and his arm was around her. He was watching the movie intently. She got up quickly and excused herself and rushed to the restroom. She looked in the mirror and saw herself smiling. Well you can’t blame me, he is just too good she thought freshening up herself. She returned to her seat, tea was being served.
‘So how was the movie?’ she asked.
‘It was okay,’ he replied.
Again they started talking this time about movies, actors and actresses.
‘There!’ she thought, ‘back to being friends again’
She looked out and there was the ocean spread out below.
‘It’s so beautiful,’ she commented.
He leaned on her to look out. His body was so near hers. She could feel the warmth of his body and she broke into a sweat. Her heart was booming. ‘He’s doing this to me??’ she thought with disbelief. I should stop this she thought fixing her gaze on the movie.
The sun was setting and it was a beautiful sight. Like a red ball of fire, it was saying good-bye. Suddenly she felts his hands take her hand. She was shocked. She wanted to snatch it back but it felt so good. Her hand enveloped in his hands.
‘Is this what love is like?’ she asked herself.
She was powerless to do anything so she just let her hand remain in his grip. They remained like that hand in hand while another movie played.
He said, ‘Just a few more hours to go. Well I am enjoying myself.’
‘Me too,’ she put in.
Everyone in the plane was getting ready to sleep but she found herself to be wide awake. He put his head on her shoulder and closed his eyes.
‘It’s like we belong together’ she told herself.
Suddenly she felt him kissing her shoulder and she stiffened.
‘This can’t be right,’ she thought. But how can anything that feels so good not be right, she turned her face to him.
He put his lips against hers and they kissed. It was magical. It was like a fairy tale. A fairy tale in the skies she thought ironically. She couldn’t let him go. He took her in his arms and they slept. When she got up she found herself still in his arms. She looked at him. Sleeping peacefully like a baby.
‘But not as innocent as a baby,’ she told herself. He was stirring out of his sleep.
‘You are up?’ he said still holding her ‘Yes! How much more time to go?” she asked
‘A couple of hours, I would guess.’ She let him go feeling sad.
He had changed she noticed. A white t-shirt and blue faded jeans. Looking fresher and even more handsome. They didn’t say much to each other. It was like they had been in some imaginary world in the skies. A fantasy world and now they were approaching reality.
‘We will be landing in Mumbai in about 20 minutes’ the captain announced. Everything was forgotten momentarily except for the excitement of seeing her home country approaching. He leaned on her again and they were looking out together. She felt so comfortable with him near her. They were talking excitedly about their beloved Mumbai.
Suddenly the city appeared as if out of nowhere. She could see the coastline, the houses, the people walking about, the roads, the slums — but everything was like a treat to her eyes. She couldn’t take her eyes off and she found herself holding his hand. The plane had landed. They saw an old woman struggling to get her stuff. He went to help her and she got up. She gathered her things and was waiting for him when someone from behind her said ‘Miss can you move please’ She had no choice but to go on.
She wanted desperately to go out with him but her feet kept moving. She looked back but he was nowhere to be seen. She reluctantly moved forward. After the immigration formalities were over she moved on. She scanned the crowds but he had just disappeared. Suddenly she spotted her sisters waving to her. She ran to them hugging them close. They were so excited all of them were talking at the same time. They almost dragged her to where her parents were waiting.
‘Mom,’ she cried hugging her mother. Then she hugged her dad glad to meet her family at last.
‘Where is Jijaji?(brother-in-law)’ she heard her sisters ask.
‘Yes, where is he?’ echoed her parents.
‘Here he is,’ came the deep throaty voice.
There he was in his white T-shirt and blue jeans smiling at them with their luggage. She looked at him with all her love. Trust Mr. Perfect to appear at the perfect time.
‘So how was the trip?’ her mother asked.
‘It was long and dull but time passes quickly with a beautiful woman,’ he replied winking at his wife.
‘We had a fight just before leaving home and your daughter was so mad at me that she wouldn’t even talk to me. I had to win her all over again’ he replied
‘Did you?’ her sister asked.
‘I think so,’ he said looking enquiringly at her.
She laughed saying, ‘Like always,’ content in his love and her love for him.
This short story was first published in Meghdutam.com (between 1999 to 2003).
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