The Miracle Of John Doe Who Sat Next To Me on My Maiden Flight

I was flying back home because my dad died the day before.

Karthik Rajan
3 min readMar 18


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…



Karthik Rajan

Stories to fuel your mind. Theme: life’s hidden treasures in plain sight. Goal: Warm tone, solid content, crisp stories. About me: one google search away.