“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls…being on time is a very nice thing,” the Indigo welcome brought a smile to Dimpy’s face. She looked appealingly at the passenger in the aisle seat, who eventually gave in to lend a hand with her red tourister. Two more manoeuvres and she was falling back on her narrow seat, grimacing at the mingy leg room.
In their Indigo brisk fashion, hostesses came tripping up with their emergency drills. The cabin echoed with muted sounds of metal clicking and pre-flight intercom punch-ins. Dimpy furrowed her brow, trying to recall what she had ordered on the last flight. The ready to eat Uppma had to stay covered eight minutes but she felt like sinking her teeth into something whole and soft, like the corn and cheese subway.
Dimpy fancied trains and buses and planes, they were her legitimate respite from life’s relentless pace. She latched her seat belt and shut her eyes, trying not to think. But they came, unbidden, slithering little snakes into the crevices of her consciousness, the thoughts. “Is the plane going to take off soon? Hope we won’t have to orbit over the airport! What is the delay? Dear God, let there not be a queue at the parking bay!”
“Cabin crew, arm all doors and cross check,” the Captain’s voice calmed her momentarily as she grabbed her book for distraction but the airplane roof had already begun to cave in. Dimpy gripped the arm rests, staring out of the window at drizzle on the tarmac. She began talking to herself, “Recite the Japji Sahib you idiot, this is ridiculous……why is your heart racing?” Fighting a rising panic, she froze in one position, letting the sweat run rivulets on her scalp. A howl began to build up in her throat. The cabin had hushed down, some passengers already in slumber-land. She willed the monitor in front to come alive, anything to loosen the steamrolling constriction in her chest. "I am locked in, there is no way out," her mind whirled. Just as she made to hoist up violently, there was a hum of the engines, some cranking and the wheels began to turn.
Dimpy shut her eyes. Her psychiatrist’s words hummed in the ears “Mrs. Dhar, does your family know of your worsening claustrophobia?”
“No Doctor, there has been no time. One has to get on. Life has been so busy.”
“You need to grieve your grandmother’s unnatural loss completely Ma’am. Please, I appeal to you…..do not short-change the mourning process. Let the pain wash over and away. You must heal before moving on. Your body is telling you something. ”