We loaded the last bag into the car, said our goodbyes and prepared for the final ride home. One year of Masters had come to an end. Mahima was going through her phone while I tried to take in the city. I hadn’t slept in 48 hours and the journey ahead was a long one.
At Heathrow with the emotional and literal luggage, we somehow made it to the counter. Mahima checked-in easily and I, as usual, struggled with shoving things from one bag to another simultaneously managing the two jackets I was wearing. When you don’t have the place to pack it, wear it.
We then headed to the security where our next hurdle awaited us.
The sleep deprivation made me forget to put my phone in the tray and Mahima to forget to put her liquids in the pouch. While I was taken to a separate, hi-tech room for special anti-terrorist inspection, Mahima’s bag was completely unpacked. The bag that took us two days to pack now had to be re-packed in five minutes. After what can be described as mindless shoving, we headed to the delightful duty-free section of the airport where we picked up more chocolates, freshened up and headed to the final lap — boarding gate.
When at the gate, we called our friends to say our final goodbyes. Physical tiredness coupled with lack of sleep made it difficult to feel anything. That one wonderful year was over, but the realisation hadn’t strike yet.
In that nine hour flight, all we did was eat, watch movies and talk. Nevermind what we talked about because we never spoke about anything in specific. Nine hours, three full meals and a popsicle later we were at the brand new Terminal 2 of Mumbai’s Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport for the first time. It was around 11 at night and we were walking through the long corridors into life’s new phase.
It was when we were heading out of the airport that it hit me. It was when Mahima was heading straight out the door and I had to take a left for my next flight that I realised that the one year had come to an end…for real. Time had passed like it always does. I wanted to cry but for some reason couldn’t.
The Mumbai to Udaipur flight was at 5 in the morning. I was at the domestic airport now and had a couple of hours to kill. So I sat there waiting for the clock to do its ticking, munching on M&Ms. It was when they made the boarding announcement and I saw people run and push as if the plane would leave without them that I realised just how much I was going to miss the UK.
Aware that the plane wouldn’t leave without me, I boarded last. I had two pot-bellied men sitting in my row who instead of giving me hand with my heavy bags started giggling when they saw me struggle. The perfect reality check that you are now in India.
I dozed off the moment I settled in my seat and woke up only when the wheels of the plane touched the ground. It was an hour long flight which means I wasn’t done sleeping. People around me (strangely) were sighing in relief and thanking God for landing the plane in Udaipur. How was it a surprise that an Udaipur bound flight would land anywhere other than Udaipur was beyond me.
Running short on patience, I headed to the conveyor belt to collect the rest of my luggage. What followed was a series of smiles, hugs, tears and you-have-changed-drastically comments.
It was a long journey and somewhere I am grateful for the fact that I never fully got the chance to grasp the fact that the best year of my life was over. Reality did hit later but I was at home with family and that made dealing with the whole situation a lot easier. It’s a blessing to be surrounded by familiar faces when the realisation of loss occurs. It makes dealing with difficult times a lot easier.