11:30 am her phone read. Eight hours till her flight, five till she had to head for the airport. She got up, still in his boxers, and made for the kitchen. Garlic toast and a sunny side up- she reminded herself to savour her breakfast. She had to make do without one in Bombay.
It was a bleak Sunday morning and her heart was heavy. The spontaneous two-day trip home was nearing its end and soon she’d find herself on a flight back to Bombay. She hadn’t anticipated having to come so soon but Akshat had had an accident, and in a week’s time she found herself in the city she adopted as home- Bengaluru. Now that she was here, she didn’t want to leave. Fond memories of the past days filled her heart with an ache she couldn’t suppress. A throbbing, dulling ache.
The few hours left before her departure were spent quietly and quickly. When time came (and after she packed in a sweaty rush), she bid her goodbyes and found herself walking towards her 04:30 pm airport shuttle. Akshat walked beside her with his broken hand and deep-scarred face. In that moment, she wanted to cry; to let out all the pent up loneliness and yearning. But she had cried enough already. He hailed the bus for her and she climbed in, barely hugging him goodbye. As the bus drove away she caught a final glance of the face she had come to love and embrace as her own.
Her head was level now. Feeling slightly detached, she reasoned with herself and almost immediately felt better. No, she felt practical. The two-hour bus journey went mostly uneventful. Earphones plugged in, she took to being mesmerized by the city she called home. Green trees, blue skies and languid people. Just the right amount of fast and the right amount of slow.
Signals came and went in a background of honks and a crooning Freddie Mercury. The sky started showing tinges of palid grey. The road to the airport was unlike any other she had seen in the city- a sleek, almost beautiful kind of a road. A fitting farewell, she thought. Her bus pulled into its rest stop by the terminal and she stepped off it. “Here we go”. Making way to the big sign reading DEPARTURE, she had a momentary scramble for her passport but found it sunk deep into her bag’s pocket. She halted at the security check and produced her ticket and passport.
“Madam aap kahaan ja rahe ho?”
“Mumbai“, she said, “Formalities”, she thought.
“Madam aapka flight kitne baje hai?”
“7:45“, she said. “Just formalities”, she thought.
“Madam aapka flight toh nikal gaya”
“Nahi sham ke 7- wait what?!“, came her double take.
She snatched her phone and gave it a once-over. Cold fear crept into her gut and her heart froze. 7:45 read her ticket. “7:45, not 19:45”.