he voice from the overhead loudspeaker said calmly “Ladies and gentlemen, as we start our descent please make sure your seat belt is securely fastened. Please turn off all electronic devices until we are safely parked at the gate. Thank you.”
Sam had travelled in airplanes for the last 10 years and now no longer feared travelling by air. But today was a different day. The weather was worse than what he had ever seen and the turbulence was unmatched. Thus it was a relief when the landing announcement came. He could see that the rest of the passengers shared his feelings and they were now just hoping to land safely. He complied with the norms and double checked his seatbelt. The lady sitting next to her sported a large belly and was not interested in strapping herself. But when the stewardess insisted she had to start strapping herself. Because of her bulky figure it was difficult to locate the straps at both ends of the seat. For a minute it looked like she would get away without strapping herself but then the stewardess pulled out the tiny strap from the sides and helped the lady out, much to her dissatisfaction. It was then that Sam noticed the attractive stewardess. Although Sam was a forty year old married man with two kids he could not help noticing the charming girls that these airlines hire to be cabin crew and air hostesses. The young girl smiled at Sam who promptly returned it with a wide grin. Sam felt a bit guilty of himself and looked about to see if no one had noticed him flashing his teeth stupidly. To his relief no one had noticed.
Suddenly the plane started shaking vigorously. It was natural for planes to be shaky when they land and it should get over in a matter of seconds. It was coupled with a screeching sound which was a cause of concern as Sam could not remember anything like this in his previous landings. From his window seat he could see sparks coming out of the right wing of the plane. As he watched with horror the spark soon changed into burst of fire and started engulfing the whole wing. It was followed by a series of blasts which he presumed must have been towards the tail. Panic gripped the passengers and their shouts were drained by the loud series of explosions. Then he could see the cabin crew running around who were soon joined by the passengers who had successfully managed to get their straps off. Some of the overhead luggage carriers opened and the luggage started coming down on the passengers. To add to the misery it suddenly started feeling very hot and there were shards of metals flowing around. Sam noticed a couple of passengers who had been struck by these shards and were bellowing in pain. Before he could make a move he could see a crack that had begun to develop through the middle of the plane. Few passengers fell through the crack along with their seats. The plane was dropping at its full pace and it would crash in a few minutes time. The fat lady by the side was making unusual noises but he assumed that it must have been her way of expressing displeasure.
Without thinking Sam pulled out the life jacket from under his seat which surprisingly came out without effort. He paused for a second and then jumped through the opening. Everything went quiet and he started feeling very light. He looked down and could make out that he would fall straight into a thick line of trees. With great difficulty he strapped the lifejacket and pulled the plug to get the parachute out. Having travelled so many times by air he remembered the security drill properly. But the problem here was that the plug was stuck. Now he could not remember the cabin crew talking about anything when the plug got stuck. Damn the dysfunctional equipments these airlines use was going to cost his life. He still had a couple of minutes till he crash landed and died.
He started remembering all the events that were of significance to him. He could see a flash of pictures coming to his mind like a slideshow. He saw himself jumping up and down when he got his first bicycle on his 12th birthday. Then it was school followed by high school. He could see the hottest girl in the class kissing him at his party which he had thrown to celebrate his 16th birthday. Then he could see the first job in which the sadist project leader always made sure that he did not get the deserved credit. This was followed with regular drinking at the bar and making some great friends. He could see himself speaking gibberish being fully drunk and saying names to his tormentors at work. Then he met Maria who was one of the sweetest girls he had come across. On their wedding day he could see his parents smiling and he could clearly see himself kissing her bride. He could then see the twins who were born just 2 years after his marriage. He was holding both of them and was sporting a broad smile. He had decided that he will be gifting the twins a similar pair of bicycles on their coming birthday. He had also decided to purchase a video camera specially to record their reaction when he was to gift them the bicycles. But somehow he had been delaying the gifts since their last two birthdays citing work pressure similar to all the other things he had postponed. He had not taken interest in the new house that Maria had suggested him. Nor had he cared to meet his parents regularly. He had been missing the last two Christmas dinners at home and had even forgotten to wish his father on his birthday. He always had to deal with the work first and it was very important to take care of the financing of the twins. But lately even the twins demanded more time from him. He had become a workaholic and could not help it. Even if he wanted to spend more time with his family he always had some work or the other which he had to attend to.
He went for his pocket and pulled out the photograph of the twins. He kissed the photographs with full force and then held them to his chest. Next he said a few prayers to God and breathed in all the air that his lungs could take in.
The impact was a dull thud. A bird came out from somewhere near the impact and flew towards the eastern sky never to return again.