After bidding a final goodbye to my relatives at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International airport, I boarded the plane bounded for Chennai. I buckled my seat belt and after few minutes, the flight took off. I was disappointed for the short trip that I had taken to Mumbai. I wanted to stay more! After six long years I had gone back to my old school, friends and relatives. But I had not even stayed for six days. I felt terrible. My ambitions and career was taking me away from my most beloved city-Mumbai.
The sky was dark with thundering clouds. There was not a single ray of the Sun. The air seemed chilly. Mumbai was going far away from me, becoming tinier every passing second till I could not see it. Suddenly a hand came in my line of vision. I blinked and looked down at my little co-passenger. He was sitting upright on the window seat and trying hard to see through the glass. Not satisfied, he rapped hard on the window thrice. This came into the notice of a sharply looking air-hostess. She came bluntly towards our seat and tried to knock some common sense into him. After making a finger-on-your-lip sign at him, she turned towards me with disapproval as if I was an irresponsible guardian. Before she could lecture me, I explained the matters to her. That I wasn’t any guardian and the boy had exchanged the seat with me in order to have my window seat. His mother was half-asleep on the next seat beside me. The air-hostess was in a dilemma now. Poor girl! She couldn’t blame me now or wake the sleeping mother.
After she left, the boy turned to me with his mischievous smile and attempted to repeat his act. I pretended to be strict and made a don’t-do-it-again sign. But he didn’t pay any attention to me. So I pulled out some magazines kept in front of us and pushed it towards him. That did the trick. The boy became excited after coming across few aero plane pictures and got immersed in the magazines. Also he tried to tear some of the pages. I let him to do it. Anything was acceptable that would stop him from breaking the glass of a window in a flying plane!
A man sitting on a window seat in the opposite direction was busy clicking away pictures from his mobile. He turned it left and right to get the best shots from the window. I turned towards my window to see what the excitement was about. I could only see endless stretch of the dark sky. Suddenly there were some whispering sounds, quite distinguishable in the quiet flight. The man was arguing about something with his co-passenger, whom I realized later, was his friend.
“……...But why do you always want to get into trouble?” the friend sounded exasperated.
“Shhh…Can you speak a bit lower for god’s sake!” the man was getting annoyed.
“Didn’t you listen to her? We should not use cell phones while the damn plane is flying!” the friend spoke angrily.
“Yeah. But I am not exactly using my cell, am I? I am not giving or answering any calls. So save your breath” the man said in a final tone and turned his mobile to capture the next picture.
“You are a complete…….” and the friend stopped in midsentence. I never got to know further. Sensing my gaze, he turned in my direction in time to see me looking at them. I smiled and looked down. I didn’t want them to think that I was spying or anything. I opened my novel and started re-reading it. It’s titled Bokya Satbande. It’s in Marathi and my favourite since my school days. I had first come across it when I was studying in 8th std. I had first read it when my brother’s Marathi teacher had recommended the novel to his class for a literature review. He had bought the book and started reading it. After a couple of pages, he had put it down and went to do some work. I took the book and started reading it immediately. And kept reading it till I had reached the end in a few days! Only then I handed the book back to my brother. I liked the adventure of the 10 years old Bokya so much! And still do! From there on, I became a huge fan of its author Dilip Prabhavalkar. Now call it a co-incidence, but during this short trip to Mumbai after so many years, this book again came into my possession as a token of my memento.
When the flight landed in Chennai, I had to wait for a long time for my suitcase to arrive in the luggage section. Finally when I got hold of it, I moved towards the exit. I had a luggage trolley which I was pushing. When I came out in the hot sunlight of Chennai, my trolley got hit. I turned towards the source and discovered my little co-passenger again. He was having fun with the trolley while his mother was managing to apologize to anybody in the vicinity who had become a victim of her son’s behaviour. The boy came closer to me.
“Bye bye… !!!” the boy waved madly and smiled.
“Goodbye…...hey, but wait. What’s your name?” I asked.
The boy didn’t reply. Instead he took hold of his trolley and went zooming past the passengers. His mother walked briskly behind him. I walked a few feet and there I saw him. My father! He met me half way and smiled. That time I truly felt that I was home at last. After a long journey, I had finally come to my family. All of my tiredness vanished on seeing my father. Home sweet home, they say in theory. I have realized it in reality.