DISCLAIMER- This being the second and last part of this story, I urge you to (if you haven’t) to read the first part, which you can find here, to enjoy the whole story.
‘Finally, I will be home. At my home.’ Maya’s husband rejoiced in the moment when he got to know about his duty being over. ‘Right at this moment, after five days, I will be at my home with my family.’
Not a day passed in those five years when he didn’t miss his family, when every day didn’t remind him of Alisha’s absence, when every night a slight gush of wind didn’t hark back those mild breaths of Maya on his chest to him. But all he could do was to look at the picture he had brought with himself; a picture which held Maya in her most beautiful moment- her long black locks flowing, her eyes reflecting her love for him, and her innocent smile creating a magical curve on her lips. Another photo was of Maya playing with their Alisha. If it were not for these two photographs, his willpower, his strength would have had given up long back; also, if it were not for the intense missions that he had asked his officers to send him for, missions which demanded his presence in the deadliest of the places and harshest of the weathers, he would have had lost his sanity, lost himself, too, long back.
It is life that scares a man more, at times, than death, and, perhaps, that is why he looks for insane ways to stay sane.
Those five days passed like a decade for him. Time had ceased to move, it seemed to him.
‘I don’t even know how my second baby looks.’ He wondered while packing on his last day before leaving for his home; grief, sullenness, affliction were the only emotions that could define his countenance. ‘I don’t even know if Alisha has got a brother or a sister.’ And this realization turned his cheerful mood into gloominess. Life had taken away a father’s proudest and biggest moment of his life; he feared (knew) that his second baby wouldn’t even recognize him, wouldn’t even know what a father is. He thumped down on the chair standing next to him, and thought about the unfairness he and his whole family were pushed into by life.
The day passed and finally THE day arrived. His luggage ready and he was about to leave to catch the bus for airport, when he was asked to meet his head in his office. ‘This was the only dreadful call I have been fearing since yesterday.’ He mumbled to the person who had brought the message.
When Maya’s eyes opened, she found herself sitting on a chair and Alisha sobbing beside her. She immediately took Alisha’s hand and stood up to talk to the lady guard standing nearby her chair. The guard was exasperating due to some news on her walky-talky.
‘What are they saying? What has happened to the flight?’ Maya shrilled on the guard, who paid no heed even to her shrill cry; for the situation that had arisen before the airport was far more important and critical.
But what had happened to the flight, which neither had arrived at the airport, nor had been announced for being delayed.
When the guard didn’t get off of her conversation on walky-talky, Maya rushed to the other guard, standing at the departure gate. Alisha had stopped crying by that time and was as worried and anxious as her mom.
‘Wha-what has happened to the flight, sir? My husband was in that flight. Please tell me that it is delayed.’
Maya knew it. Maya knew what had happened. Maya knew all along while she was running from guard to guard to attain the news. But hope is an inherent part of us, humans. Isn’t it? She rushed from person to person in the hope that they’d inform her about fight being delayed, about flight being cancelled due to some reason. She could wait for him for a few more hours or days where she had waited half a decade but thought of never seeing him again would choke her, would tear her heart apart. It would kill her.
Guard had no other option but to tell Maya the same truth she had heard before, the harsh truth of the flight’s turning into a hot fireball in the air. Due to some technical snag, the flight was to have an immediate landing at the other airport, but before it could land, the tragedy had struck. ‘I’m sorry, mam!’ Guard said.
Mouth gaping, eyes numb, body trembling- Maya couldn’t feel anything. Alisha kept on pestering her about what the guard had said but all she could hear was her husband’s promise of never leaving her alone, of loving her forever.
‘Excuse me mam! Excuse me!’ Maya heard a voice. It was of the same guard who had informed her of the plane’s crash. She dragged herself back to him and asked what the matter was.
‘What name did you give of your husband?’ The guard enquired. Maya told him his name.
‘What is it, sir?’ Maya couldn’t hold the intensity of her trepidation.
‘Actually while checking in our system, we noticed that a person of the same name, which you just told me, hadn’t boarded the flight. And had instead booked the very next flight, which has just arrived at the airport’, informed the guard.
Maya couldn’t believe her ears; the news felt so surreal that for a moment it felt as if she were in her own dream. ‘Are you sure, sir? Is my husband safe and sound? He is alive. You’re telling me the truth. Aren’t you? I…’ And Maya broke down into tears, while little Alisha started jumping on hearing the news.
‘I told you mom, daddy will come home. He had promised on his last day of loving me forever. I told you. I told you.’ Alisha’s voice could be heard in the whole passage.
Just when Maya was thanking the guard, he heard her name to be called by a so-familiar voice. She knew that voice. She knew that voice’s source. She knew and she turned back.
There he was; in his military uniform and his luggage.
‘He looks exactly the same I saw him on his last day five years back.’ Maya thought.
‘She looks exactly the same I saw her on my last day five years back.’ He thought.
Before any of them could make any movement, Alisha ran towards her daddy and leaped into his arms. And the very next moment whole family was relishing this moment; Maya couldn’t stop crying, and her husband tried his best to not to cry.
When they all calmed down, Maya enquired about his flight’s discrepancy. And it was then she got to know about the last moment emergency he was stuck into; when his head asked him to stay a few more hours and asked him to board the next flight instead.
‘I hate my officer. If he hadn’t stopped me, I’d have reached many hours earlier than this.’ Maya’s husband said.
And Maya thanked her husband’s head officer in her prayer. And then informed him about the previous flight’s tragedy.
‘I didn’t know that my officer head is, in fact, my secret well-wisher.’ He said and both- Maya and her husband chuckled and this complete family headed towards its home. While back at the airport many other families were left incomplete, forever.
When they reached home, he turned towards Maya and asked- ‘Where is our second baby, Maya?’
‘How did grandpa take it, mom?’ Sanaya asked.
‘I was too young back then to feel the havoc that daddy must have gone through. I was only thirteen. The look that he had on his face is still vivid in my memory. Mom had accepted the fact of having lost her second child and I my brother; but your grandpa- he still blames himself, that if he had been with us during the time when your grandma was pregnant this wouldn’t have had happened’, said Alisha, while waiting at airport for her husband in 2000, to her thirteen-year daughter, Sanaya. She continued, ‘So, now you know how we almost lost your grandpa…’
But before Alisha could finish, she saw Sanaya running towards the arrival gate and jumping into the arms of her dad in green military uniform.
IF YOU ARE A FIRST-TIME VISITOR OF MY BLOG, DO REFER ‘First-Timers’. IT WOULD HELP YOU IN EXPLORING THE PLACE.
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