Chapter 5

Written by: Rosemary Wakelin

Chetna turned her face to the small aircraft window.  She watched as the plane’s silvered wing sliced smoothly through the clouds, took pleasure in the magical experience and in the mesmeric sounds of the engine’s soft, continuous thrumming. The glass fogged from her over-excited breaths and she quickly wiped the minor annoyance away. How she loved flying, particularly when watching the ever-changing earth slowly melt as the plane moved higher and higher in the sky.

 “My little, Chetna,” she heard her mother say long ago when Chetna wore perfectly sleek plaits and dangled her short, restless legs from her seat. “It is a wondrous gift to fly like this. Never be afraid of it.” Then she would describe all the exorbitant marvels from their window. “Like another world,” she concluded.

Tears festered behind Chetna’s eyes, surfaced and trickled in short bursts down her cheek. She admonished herself for any previous unwanted thoughts of her mother’s visit and prayed hard that her mother was all right.

A short series of crackling noises sounded from the speakers, followed by the flight attendant’s well-rehearsed voice. “Ladies and gentlemen, we will soon begin our descent into New Delhi airport….”

As always, Chetna found the two-hour trip far too short.  She conceded the point with a disappointed sigh. 

“It’s like another world, isn’t it?”

Chetna spun to the man beside her. His smile was warm, affable, his voice gentle and calming. He had just spoken her mother’s conciliatory words. She wondered how that was possible. In fact, she wondered many things about this ivory-skinned man with eyes that made her picture the striking blue-green waters of Naini Lake.

His long sturdy fingers held his now closed book; its title, The Making of a Surgeon, centred its dark cover. Was he a surgeon? She looked for outward signs of such an esteemed profession; decided she had already witnessed them through his refined, kindly manner, and his obviously expensive apparel.

Chetna simply smiled and prepared for landing.

 

Summer in Delhi could be brutal, even to a local like Chetna. The unbearable heat, heavy with its suffocating humidity, and the scorching rays of the sun beseeched you to stay indoors. Storms, strong and promising, provided some relief, but not for any significant period. 

As Chetna exited the airport, she realised this was one such occasion. Rain fell in thick continuous sheets, bouncing off the concrete in jagged, steamy breaths. She carefully memorised the number on her green ticket and stepped forward in search of her pre-paid taxi. Headlights upon headlights blinded her. Her light, cotton dress, completely saturated, clung to her like second skin. She hunched her body and quickly returned to shelter, muttering beneath her breath. What would she do now? Wait? Hope the taxi driver would find her? 

“Where are you going?” 

It was the man from the plane with a green pre-booked taxi ticket in his hand.

“Batra Hospital” she said.

The man grinned widely. “Exactly where I’m heading. Want to try and get there together?” 

 

Comments

Thank you for keeping the mystery man alive Rosemary! He's quite the charmer and I hope we find out more about him as the serial develops :)
Oh good, the mystery man has not disappeared out of Chetna's life. I almost cheered when I saw that. Yes I want to get to know him better also (: What great characterisation that we feel this way about both Chetna and the mystery man.
Thank you Donna and Suraya for your kind words :)
A nice warm chapter that moves gently along, giving us more insight into the characters through their dialogue and actions. I thought this was written with a maternal feeling for the girl. Now I'm all concerned for her well-being. And who is the nice man? We shall see. I really felt good when the man arrived to look after Chetna. Loved it.
Thanks Ray, much appreciated :)