The Miracle Of John Doe Who Sat Next To Me on My Maiden Flight
On the early morning of Nov 15th, 1997, something surreal happened. I was seated next to him on my first airline flight — ever.
From North of India, I was rushing home to South.
The last 15 hours had been a blur. That was my first moment alone surrounded by complete strangers. Trickling tears dripped down my cheeks. I pushed back on the seat. Head up, eyes closed.
Engineering Science is my major. Logic is my livelihood. Passion is what moves me. Coincidences that are karmic — I hardly talk about them for an innate fear that I have a fellow skeptic on the other side.
Is there a power beyond?
The passenger seated next asked me why. My words haltingly trickled. All he said in an all-knowing voice “Focus on your mother. You help her hold-up. You will have a swell of life from this abyss.”
My cousin picked me up at the airport. He was solemn, shaken by the sudden tragedy. He asked me to be strong — the irony of being the eldest, recasting the stereotype of a boy with a mustache who needs to be a strong man.
I asked him to stop for a strong coffee on the way home. We stopped at my family pit stop — Saravana Bhavan. I sat at a seat that I frequented. My dad was usually beside me. Today it was empty. My cousin sat across. I grasped the cup. Still can recollect the strong lingering effect of coffee at the deep end of my tongue. Nothing was spoken. We drove home.
I set my own bar. I acted like how I was expected to lead. Or so I thought. I held that façade for 9 full days.
On the 10th day, I broke. The loss was too heavy for me. That 10th morning, I let out a deep wail. My mother came running and hugged me. My siblings clung on. The loss was real. There were onlookers inside our home. I was beyond care. At the end of it, I became real.
The pain is still fresh, 25 years have not shaken off the loss or the chance encounter in my maiden flight. That lingering voice of the co-passenger: the voice of someone who has been through the same loss — his beloved dad — too…