It was 6 pm (almost 12 hours since we boarded the first flight), when they announced our flight was ready for take off again and the passengers could soon start boarding. We hadn’t been able to contact our parents. We wondered if they knew.
Three unaccompanied kids.
An international airport.
No one to guide.
We followed several queues. Asked whoever came our way. Maybe the Gods must have felt we would indeed be left behind in Kuwait. So he decided to send a family we knew, to help us. They were travelling by the same flight.
Meanwhile, there were a few elderly men who felt equally stranded at the Arrival terminal of the Trivandrum International Airport. They were our uncles and relatives. They had come to receive us, all the way from Kasargode, around 400 miles from Trivandrum. It was more than 8 hours since our expected time of arrival. The flight seemed delayed. They were worried why. (Mobile phones were not yet in use then).
At the same time, dad and mom were at a friend’s place the whole day. They were worried too. But the airport authorities dint budge. Rules were rules. Once security check up was done, there was no way out.
It was dark by the time we boarded the craft.
The announcements. (Welcome to _____ , your preferred airlines! Ha ha ha)
The apology (for the 12 hours spent at the airport).
The aerobics session. (This time, I paid attention).
The flight took off and we once again bid farewell to Kuwait and to our imaginary parents, who waved at us happily from the airport.
One funny memory from that trip was how an air hostess was curios to know if the three of us were siblings. When we said we were, she gave an amused smile and went inside only to beckon a few more flight stewards and hostesses. They kept koochi-kooing us for a while and left. According to them it was impossible for couples to have three cute and beautiful kids. Maybe I was supposed to be ugly or deformed as per statistics?? (Yeah, I know what you’d be thinking now! I found it weird too!)
We were served some food, and soon people slept. Selt belts were loosened. I was sitting next to my brother, who was fast asleep.
This time, there was no warning. The plane hit the ground with immense force. We felt we had crashed. There was a screech. Of tyres? Of brakes? (Do these things have brakes?) It was a panicky situation. Babies cried. Children fell off their seats. Women screamed. The elderly prayed out loud.
I was too shocked to cry. My brother woke up startled and I was hugging him saying it was alright. But somewhere inside I knew we were going to die.
The plane continued to speed away. We dint know where we were. We dint dare to look anywhere except into each others eyes.
We felt completely helpless. It was left to God. Or the pilot. But if I were to tweak the Pareto's theory, I would say the Vital God was accountable for 80% of our life and the Trivial pilot for the remaining 20%. I was however clear they depended on each other to ensure we were alive.
Slowly, the plane lost speed and came to a stop. Time for announcements. The pilot started with an apology. He had to make an emergency landing and hence couldn’t request us to fasten our seat belts. He requested all passengers to stay calm, composed and to co-operate with the crew.
Men rose from their seats and walked towards the cockpit, demanding to be put on a safer flight. The air hostesses and stewards had a tough time requesting them to be seated.
Meanwhile, we 3 looked out of the window and smiled at each other.
We were back at the Kuwait airport.