The day finally came. Her mother asked her to get ready to leave for the airport. They would take a short flight to Chicago and then fly to Delhi, from where they would go to Calcutta. Suchandra got ready. She put on the clothes that her mother had kept ready for her on her bed. There was an extra jacket for the plane.
“It will be cold on the plane, Sue. Remember the last time we visited India? You needed extra blankets on the plane,” her mother reminded her.
Sue did not want to remember that trip. Her parents had both been with her. Her mother had talked to her throughout the flight. This time it would be boring.
With a goodbye to the house, Suchandra and her parents drove off. The airport was nearby. It was small, and since they were flying within the country, there was no long security check. Her father wanted to check in immediately. “What will we do sitting in the waiting area?”
Suchandra burst out crying. “I want to sit with mom until they call us!”
“Fine. But if we miss this plane, we will miss the plane to Calcutta,” he said, and walked to the other side of the waiting area. Suchandra and her mother sat holding each other. Both crying a little bit, but trying to smile. Then the announcement came “Flight 334 to Chicago, gate open”.
On the long flight, Suchandra kept her eyes closed even when she was not sleeping. The sound of the dinner cart rolling by made her wake up. Dinner was spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread. Dessert was a slice of chocolate cake. Suchandra loved anything chocolate.
Her father asked her, “Do you feel alright?” He patted her head and looked worriedly at her face.
Sue usually ate anything made with chocolate within a minute of seeing it. But now she was not even looking at the dessert.
Hours later, the captain announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, we will be arriving at Calcutta shortly. Please fasten your seat belts.” Suchandra took out her comb and ran it through her hair. Her mother had always told her to look neat. She would comb Suchandra’s hair for her every day and braid it into plaits at night. “Will somebody in Calcutta do that for me,” wondered Suchandra.
When the plane landed in Calcutta, Suchandra and her father were the last to get out. Her father did not like crowds so they waited until the others had got off the plane. After her father showed their passports to some people and collected their luggage, they walked towards the arrivals terminal where her aunts and uncles would be waiting for them. Sue’s cousins were all much older than her and living in other cities, but one of them would come in from Mumbai just to spend a few days with her. She felt some butterflies in her stomach. Some of her unhappiness seemed to float away as soon as she spotted her favourite aunt’s smiling face outside the sliding doors.
To be continued