If you look closely, you'll see all kinds of people at the airport. The loud ones. Those quiet ones. Some happy, some excited. Most looking forward to their destination. Some lost in spite of knowing where they are headed. Newly married couples, so much in love. Those that have been together for years, moving in synchronized motion without the need to speak. A father-daughter duo, the father showing the daughter the ways of the world. Some rushing for important meetings full of possibilities while others, shoulders slouched as if carrying the entire burden of the world. Such striking similarities yet such vast differences. A microcosm of the world.
There are also the ones traveling alone, friendly and always looking to strike up a conversation. But again, there are some who prefer to be left in their own world. Sitting in a coffee shop, boarding pass in hand and reading a book. Looking up only when the coffee is served or when their flight is announced. Those that find peace and solace in being lost in their own world, in being with themselves. An island in the sea of humans, cut off from all the noise. She was just one of those. A quiet beauty just one of the many at the airport but not really. She was just a girl at the airport, Maya.
Dressed in a beige skirt and yellow top, she sat near her boarding gate reading 'The Girl On The Train'. Engrossed in Rachel's life as the girl on the train, Maya wasn't even aware that an infant was crying in the seat next to her's. She was even oblivious to the couple arguing on the seat behind her. It was as if she had taken that book and jumped into a rabbit hole. Her very own wonderland.
On her way to her cousin's wedding, Maya had finally taken a break from work. At 29, she had a good job, a wonderful family and some great friends. Just out of a horrible relationship which had drained her as much physically as mentally, she was now looking forward to being single. She had had enough of boyfriends who were more like babies in the guise of grown men.
My babysitting days are over! That's what she told herself. Books, travel and family, that's all she would care about.
Five seats away from Maya, he sat annoyed by the crying baby and miffed at the arguing couple whose voices kept rising.
I need some coffee! Or, maybe even a beer! Ashish thought as he picked up his knapsack and made his way to the coffee shop.
He was on his way home, reluctantly, to meet another girl his mother had managed to shortlist. No amount of pleading helped. His mother wanted to hear none of his reasons. He was 32 after all, more than ready for marriage according to her. Who marries for love, she quipped every time Ashish begged her to stop looking. You love after you marry was what she believed and wanted him to too.
This would be the last time he thought. He was flying to Norway for work for a duration of two years. He just needed to get through this time and this marriage monkey would be off his back for at least that duration. How could he marry without first falling in love?
He would know. Yes, he would know when she walks into his life. The one. No there would be no violins or rain. It would be simple yet special. The woman whom he would give a second look, who would capture his thoughts, first briefly than forever. Someone who would be ordinary yet extraordinary. His very own extraordinary. He would know.
Sipping his coffee, he smiled thinking how his sister would have pulled his legs for being so hopelessly romantic. But that was who he was. He was happy too to have been selected for that assignment. That would take him away from all the arranged marriage hullabaloo, buy him some time. With that thought in mind, his eyes scanned the airport.
So many people under one roof. So many lives intersecting, knowingly and unknowingly. Lost in his coffee and thoughts, he suddenly stopped. A girl in a yellow t-shirt struck his eyes, seated near the same gate from where his flight was about to board. There was something about her, something earthy and very alluring.
Seated in the crowd, she seemed to be in a bubble of her own. Sitting in the middle of her noisy neighbors, she seemed unperturbed. There was something very calming about her.
His eyes moved away from her just for a moment before wandering back. He couldn't help himself from observing her. Lost in her book she seemed to have an aura of tranquility in this midday mayhem at the airport. There was something special in the way she was oblivious to everything but the book in her hand.
Is she the one?
With that thought reverberating in his mind, Ashish picked up his coffee and found himself walking towards her. It was as if he was in a trance, swept away by the magic of this girl at the airport, and all that mattered that moment was that he spoke to her. Maybe, she was indeed the one.
Labels: Short Fiction