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Self and Other : Indus Chadha

This is a guest post by INDUS CHADHA

The summer that I was 5-years-old, I took my first flight alone because I wanted to spend my holidays with my grandparents. My parents prepared me well—they even read aloud and recorded my favourite stories on an audio cassette which we put into our Walkman for my long solo journey. But there was one question they neglected to answer. “What should I do if the flight crashes?” I had asked. “It won’t…” they had brushed my question away. So when the flight attendant came out into the aisle and announced that one of our engines had failed and we would have to turn back to our point of origin to make an emergency landing—I wondered what I should do.

A man a few rows ahead of me got up from his seat and started shouting at the flight attendant. He was obviously afraid and seemed to hope oddly that he could frighten some comfort out of her. I remember him saying over and over again that he had a young child with him on the flight and that made me conscious of both the gravity of the situation and the fact that I was so young and all alone. I felt tears start to well up in my throat and took small sips of my orange juice to wash down the urge to cry. And then, out of the blue, the young man sitting beside me started talking to me. He asked me what I was studying at school and when I told him our theme for the last term had been pirates he exclaimed that he was a ‘shippie’ and knew all about them.

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