Early Morning Flights by Manali Debroy 

An early morning flight and an airport almost thirty miles away, only give you nasty feelings – deprive you of the peaceful early morning sleep and the hassle of travelling a long distance. What if I tell you something else might turn your ‘catching an early morning flight’ experience an unforgettable one.

The rush hour – catching a flight or reaching office is always that for me. But this time, it was a wedding to attend and I was very excited to board the flight. Weddings are always beautiful – celebrations all around and most importantly you are surrounded by happy faces all the time with good food everywhere. Who could imagine that when you are going to be a part of something so joyous and lively, you first meet with something cold and gloomy. It was one of those March days, when the sun started showing its head at five o’clock in the morning. I had to catch an eight o’clock flight, so I was up by five and quickly called a cab. I already had calculated keeping in mind the traffic and how soon I had to reach the airport, hence five o’clock seemed like the best time to start. I could reach the airport maximum by an hour and a half. With this presumption, I started for airport and just couldn’t wait to be there for my best friend on her big day. The cab driver was thoughtful and he turned on old classic songs in the radio. I am a big fan of old classics and I was just in the mood for beautiful songs before we reach the airport. I pulled down the car window, letting the summer air breeze into my air. I felt lively and refreshed. Though the city was still waking up and with not many vehicles on the rod, I thought, may be I could even reach the airport in an hour. I was happy and thrilled. But as the sun started to change its mood from dawn to a sunny day, I could see the roads getting jammed with more vehicles. The noise of honks and the muttering of people started as early as six o’clock. An ideal rush hour was just about to start. But I was still comfortable as more than half the distance was already covered and even with this traffic, I will reach the airport in twenty minutes max. I was just getting comfortable with this thought, when suddenly the cab got stuck in a massive traffic jam. We kept waiting for around twenty minutes and it seemed like a very long wait time for me. I mean I could have reached by now. So, I asked my cabbie can we check what has happened. He was very kind to go out and check the situation. He came back with a hung face and a bad news. He told me, ‘someone met with an accident while he was crossing the road, when there is no crossing there. So the vehicle just hit him and went by, without stopping. Unfortunately, he died on the spot and his dead body lying on the middle of the road.’ I was mortified hearing this. Not that I never experienced ambulance sound a bad traffic jam, but I never thought I would be stuck in a jam with a dead body just 100 yards away from me, who died an abrupt death. I didn’t have the courage to get out of the cab to check and I felt almost paralyzed inside. In that moment, I started to self-retrospect my own rush hour behavior. ‘Am I careful while crossing a road or walking on the sidewalks? Or am I just busy to reach office as soon as I can? Probably yes – I am too busy to reach office and not being careful mostly.’ With this thought still in my mind, I felt like most of the times we are not at our careful behavior when it comes to reaching office at the rush hour, or for that matter any other event, when we start at the eleventh hour and rush so that we can still reach in time to the venue. Accidents only happen, when we are not careful or when we are too consumed with our daily shenanigans or any other big important event. And amidst these, we forget that nothing is more important than life itself.

I somehow reached the airport just an hour before boarding the flight and got myself checked in as well. But I was still not in a rush mood. I learnt a very big lesson that day and also the importance of each breath. We always have in the back of our mind, to be careful, but tend to ignore that somehow. I learnt that it is okay to reach few minutes late, if that saves your precious life. And it is better to keep more buffer time to reach somewhere which is important, rather than rushing to cost your life. Death is cold and not recoverable. And an unforeseen death, is not only unpleasant but ugly and scary, leaving many of your wishes and desires unfulfilled.

Ironically, I was going to attend a wedding – a very happy and lively event, and yet just before that I experienced something so gloomy. An unfortunate and abrupt death is the fate that we decide for ourselves, just because at that moment we were rushing for something that we believed was the most important thing.

Two lessons that I can never forget after this. Always be careful and enjoy every moment of life rather than spending every minute cursing it. Life is precious and never take it for granted. You never know when death shows up!