Nonetheless, I run back to the end of the conveyer belt and place my huge backpack on it. Waiting for it to reach the electronic scanner, I was getting restless by the moment. The day being, 25 December—for most people it is Christmas day and for me it is my dad’s birthday. I was hoping that with my flight scheduled to land in Delhi at 10:50 p.m. I should be home in time to at least wish him happy birthday before the day turns over. I was hoping on the flight not to get delayed and Suchit, my dear Michael Schumacher, driving me home at super-sonic speeds like always. My baggage went through the scanner and the security pulled it aside and asked me to take out the battery operated device that has been identified in the scanner. I knew I had no battery operated device in my back pack, the only three powered devices on me were my mobile phone, by watch, and my camera—none of them were in the back pack. So I told them that there is no stuff inside that is battery operated. They repeated a few times politely, but I was getting cranky… I was too eager to get on to the flight and reach home in time to wish my dad and was not at all at my cooperative best with the airport security. So within seconds, a few commandos of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) were pointing their assault rifles at me. I looked at them in weird wonderment; and then without a hint of heroism I grabbed the back pack, unzipped it and got most of my stuff out. All through the pull out and unraveling of the “stuff” that was largely dirty laundry and fragrant incense stick packs; I noticed a small packet gift wrapped in red gift paper with little white stars. Then it hit me, one of my cousin sisters had given me some gift and I had asked her before packing my stuff to put in the backpack. I ripped open the packet and it had a table clock ticking its way to glory. Both I and the airport security guards were relieved that it was only table clock and not a C4-based detonator device. They took the battery away and I was left on my own to pack in the stuff back. I did that at manic pace and rushed to the counter to collect my boarding pass. Somehow I managed to catch the bus that taxied me to the flight.
The flight took off; the jet propulsion burst was again well enjoyed by me. I was eager to get back to Delhi, see my best friends, somehow manage to reach home before 12:00 a.m. to wish dad. At the same time, I was already missing Pondicherry. I have found some anchor in that sea-side town. I am anchor-less now, and without an anchor I know not what to do. “What now?” is the single most important and overarching question within me. I am flowing no more, I am just oozing. Without direction, hence into all directions at once; like a scent of a flower. The Wanderer had made me appreciate this state. He had ensured that I see right through this into the larger realm of knowing oneself. The journey within, although has just begun for me, has made me realize the vastness and purity that waits. Over the next two hours, I try to put in perspective the bamboozling experiences and events that have come to be in my trip. The Wanderer coming face to face with me and making himself clear, Radha’s overbearing and overpowering presence, the mystic and invigorating sea, the dhwani of my heart, and very fact that all this has started to happen with me all over again. I am now extremely comfortable with the way things are evolving; there is nothing that I can complain about, nothing for which I feel any rage when I look into the sky, the sense of loss has been purged into a sense of peace, the void though is hugely unavoidable. Nevertheless, when one has love at one’s core, nothing can terribly go wrong. The thought stays on with me, perhaps forever.
The flight captain’s voice booms through the aircraft, “Sir, we will be landing in Delhi airport in the next twenty minutes.” People slowly break out of their short nap, and start their hissing conversations with their co-passengers.
Soon the flight landed in Delhi and I called up Kshitij and Suchit, my best friends who were to come and pick me up. They were already waiting at the arrival area. I walk out of the airport in eager anticipation to meet my buddies after a week away. The temperature outside was freaking cold. The week spent in tropical climate had made me extremely uncomfortable in the cold. Moving out of the comfort of the airport was unsettling. The two musketeers were waiting for the third.
The moment I reached were they were standing, they started the dramatic welcome ritual… shouting “welcome bhai” in made up Uttar Pradesh accent, and with a huge marigold flower garland—all this in front of the entire crowd… such Hamm!
It was freaky fun though. So typical of us!
Despite the indented embarrassment, it feels great to come home to people who love you so crazily.
Instead of Suchit driving me home, these guys had hired a cab and first Suchit was dropped, then I was, and then Kshitij. I reach home and dad and mom were both waiting for me. I give dad a hug and wish him happy birthday. His eyes are moist; he is an extremely emotional man. I see in his eyes an acknowledgement that he has gotten old now. At sixty six, he is still a man of good activity and vigor. Touch wood! Silently, through my eyes, I promise him that I will stand by him.
I retire into my room. I didn’t sleep that night at all. It was just too much to absorb. So much awesomeness!