Airport Deja vu | A Short story

I bid farewell to the last air hostess standing near the exit and walk onto the flight's makeshift stairs. There are still many people in front of me.....

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The plane lands with a slight thud. Perhaps it’s only a little louder over the thudding of my own heart. I have unbuckled my seat belt and have managed to get on my toes and free my bag from the overhead compartment without any casualties. This is momentous considering both how clumsy handed and nervous I am. The line is always fast to move, but today it feels like it’s moving at snail’s pace. 

I bid farewell to the last air hostess standing near the exit and walk onto the flight’s makeshift stairs. There are still many people in front of me, all waiting to step out. I finally exit the corridor and step out onto the lush granite flooring of the airport. I have reached Delhi.

I feel the humid air hit me with full force. There is absolutely nothing better than this. I also feel the relief in the eyes of the people around me. People who were stuck in the same flying cabin as I was for the past several hours, breathed a silent sigh of reliefs as the humid and fresh air engulfed them. 

But moments later, my emotions had already started waging a war, too many memories had begun to surface, all battling for power. Each one of them reminded me of how my life was  4 years ago. The people I lived with, the people I loved, the people I lost. 

The ongoing bustle at the airport seemed to prove that very truth,  I either wanted to bite into the thick air or wanted it to swallow me whole. 

I felt both alive and weighed down at the same time. Alive to be so close to home, and weighed down by all the years which had gone by. Suddenly, one suppressed memory floats up. It doesn’t even have to battle for dominance. In fact, I felt like as if the other memories quietly made way for it. 

That’s because I see you. I see your smile, I remember those wrinkles which would cringe by your eyes whenever you’d smile or laugh. I can hear that laugh ringing in my ears. 

The long two-wheeler rides as the cool wind whipped straight onto our faces and the way I’d clung onto your waist for my dear life. 

Memories of the cone ice-creams we had, And the varieties of Golas we tried and ended up staining our tongues and teeth with various colours. 

Your hands around my waist, sometimes in my hair, tracing my cheeks; our noses touching slightly; our heads, bent; our eyes, almost closed; our breaths, heavy. 

It takes all my might and will to stop the memory in its tracks. 

Quite unknowingly I realize that I have already crossed a majority of the airport and was close to the exit. One left turn and I will be able to walk right out to get the cab. I’m beginning to turn, and get a last look at the airport before I leave. And that’s when I see someone and actually, It’s you. Your black suitcase is at your heel. You are tapping your foot impatiently and a slight frown plays on your face as you look for something on your phone. Suddenly I can’t breathe. Unable to accept the fact that I’ve literally seen you, I’m about to look away, that’s when our eyes allegedly lock.

The intensity with which you are looking at me makes it feel like as if the same memories are playing in your head. I see a smile form on your lips. And I find myself mirroring it helplessly.

They are right when they say that airports are often home to beautiful beginnings. No matter even if they are happening once again…

-Raghavendra Laxman

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