What happened that evening on 9W-461

I was on the Jet Airways flight from Mumbai to Chennai. When I boarded, it was a mildly cold winter evening that still hadn’t bid adieu to the sun. I had boarded with a heavy heart as it could probably be my last journey from my dream city to my home city.

Two days ago, when my project manager congratulated me for the approval of my transfer, there was no bound to the joy I felt. The entire day I pictured myself in the office of my lovely home city and kept telling the news to my friends and colleagues. However, the next morning, it sank into me that I would probably never be living again in the city that had been my home for two of the important years of my life. That day turned out to be the mourning day, for I was going to leave my second home.

When I was sitting in the aircraft waiting for it to takeoff, I decided to divert myself for I was still silently mourning the parting. I started solving my favourite puzzle – the Sudoku. It was not a Sudoku day for me. I failed to solve it. I messed up the numbers and put them in all wrong places. It is not easy to leave the city that had warmly welcomed me when I desperately needed a change in my life; the city that had immersed me in new bizarre experiences that fine-tuned my personality; the city that had taught me to be independent; the city that had been much more to me than any word could ever describe.

As Sudoku didn’t help achieve the purpose it was sought for, I began skimming through the in-flight magazine ‘Jet Wings’. I read about Pondicherry’s beauty, R K Narayan’s home-turned-Museum at Mysuru, and the way Pushkar festival is celebrated, before the flight took off. The inside lights went off. Usually, I continue reading with the help of the reading lights. However, that day was unusual and I decided to stare outside. It was dark outside then. Or was it? That was when I witnessed something beautiful.

As the shuttle gently lifted off the ground, I took a peek at my dream city for one last time. Such a gorgeous city, it was! I felt like I was leaving a part of myself in it as the plane slowly moved towards the Arabian Sea. When it crossed the land area into the sea, I kept staring at the dark sea and the dark sky. That was when I realized that there was some light left at the horizon.

It took me few seconds to comprehend why there was a reddish strip above the black sea; why it gradually turned yellowish, and then bluish, before disappearing into the thick dark sky. It was like I saw the sun’s rays after it had set. It was as though I had time travelled to some minutes ago when the sunset hadn’t happened. It felt as if I had caught the rays that had tried to escape my eyes.

I kept staring at the light segment as if it was a miracle. Most people, I thought, went into sleep mode as soon as the journey had started. It seemed that not even half the people blessed with the west-facing window seats were blessed with the stunning view.

Lights were switched-on on the inside since the jet had risen to a steady altitude. That interrupted my view of the mild light outside because my eyes were obstructed by the brightness nearby. I looked at the open magazine on my lap and thanked myself for deciding to not continue reading it.

I closed the booklet and placed it in the back pocket of the seat to my front. I used my hands to prevent the brightness from blinding my eyes and kept looking at the faint light above the sea as it slowly shrank into pitch darkness.

Goodbye, Mumbai!

PS – For those who are wondering what ‘9W-461’ is: it is the flight number I was on.

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