I happen to be one of those people who just love travelling by flights. Till date, every time I enter an airport, I still explore each of its shops and eateries with the same childlike curiosity, as when I had first stepped foot onto the tiny almost non-existent Lucknow airport, at the age of seven.
The first time I sat in a Shatabdi, I was told “This is what an airplane is like…just that it’s in the air.”
And I still like to take the window seat, I still go through the safety manual, I still see the safety instructions, I still feel something funny in my tummy when the flight takes off, I still try to spot my house from the flight, and I still look forward to in-flight meals, whatever they might be like.
But the one part, which I always always apprehensively look forward to, is the landing. Let me try and describe the situation, which in my head, repeats itself without fail, each flight.
You’re sitting at the window, looking at the endless cottony clouds spread out across the landscape, beckoning you wickedly to come out and play with them. And suddenly, you dip right through them, and get a slightly hazy, yet steadily approaching view of the land underneath. You look in wonder as the merging forms appear and start to make sense, and the approach of civilization becomes imminent. And then the brick structures start to come into sight, dangerously close, until all you can see is twinkling lights at the air port, and a long stretch of tar infused to form the grey stretch where you’ll eventually land.
The runway approaches, faster than you had expected it to, and within moments you’re right above it. And then the 5 seconds begin.
These are the 5 seconds, when you literally hold your breath, because you know you’re going to make contact with something solid, while you’re at a dangerously high speed. These are the 5 seconds where you wonder if your entire long successful flight, is really going to end successfully or not. These are the 5 seconds where you remember how you said goodbye to your loved ones. These are the 5 seconds you feel confused about whether you’re still airborne, or whether it was an exceptionally smooth landing. These are the 5 seconds where the entire world ceases to exist, where noise is tuned out, your senses numbed, and worries take a back seat, as all your concentration is on the moment the aircraft will touch the runway.
And then with a thud, you hit the ground, and you’re jolted back to reality. The noise swooshes its way back into your ears, your worries and appointments for the day easily squeeze their way back into your brain, and with pure impatience the air is filled with the beeps of cellphones being switched on despite the airhostess’s announcements against it.
You get up and pretend that those 5 seconds didn’t exist for you.
But for me, those 5 seconds, are 5 seconds that I look forward to, that I’m scared of, that I know, could just be the last 5 seconds of my life.