Laminate Surface


Isa gives her heart-shaped face the briefest of glance in the compact mirror as she steps out from the car. Her face looks normal, just a small hint of anxiety, nothing big.A small smile flashes on her lips as she goes through the security screening and boards the flight. All the happy faces of her family and friends from the other side of the world envelop her mind.

After the long screeching take off ‘It is all right, it will be fine’, Isa has mouthed to herself, hunching against the tug of gravity. But the sensation of imprisonment only tightens as hours drag by. She sits with her hands clasped in front of her, her two forefingers leaning against each other and against her thin pink lips. arches the seat to stretch her stressed back.The plane is not that spacious. She is only 5’2 but there is barely room for her knees. To her right sits a woman whose body spills over the armrest, engrossed in a book. To her left, a young man his head tilts back, pale eyelids down. Isa tries to cross her legs, but there is not much room, so she just crosses her ankles instead. She should have booked the ticket in a new aircraft who boasts to give a luxurious experience.

Isa is on her way to India to attend her youngest cousin brother’s wedding. She tried lots of excuses not to travel. It is almost eleven in the night, before she closes her eyelids a gust of uneasiness blows through her mind. She turns her head towards her husband. “ I do not think it is necessary to visit India now. Instead we can plan to visit Alaska or any other winter hiking place. ”

Her husband replies, “We will plan some hiking trips but this year you should go to India. This is the last wedding in your family and also you can spend some time with my mother.”

Isa sighs. She nods her head.She should. She closes her eyes.

After five hours Isa wrench  the in flight magazine out of its plastic sheath: she scans the articles and briefly distracted by the advertisements. Fatigue swims into her legs. She closes the magazine, takes some slow, deep breath. She peeps through the small egg shape window. Out side is the vast blue sky and the white puffy clouds. When the plane tilts to one side the vast ocean winks at her. ‘ Really there is nothing to worry about’, she tells herself toying with the pearl necklace. ‘people fly all the time’. She heaves a long breath. It is almost seven hours. Her head is hammering. She needs strong Darjeeling tea. Stiff-necked, she stares around  in the dim cabin. Some of the passengers glue to the small TV monitors in front of them and some sleep with a thin grey blankets tucked under their chins.But they look relaxed. Isa pushes her seat back but then jerks upright again.She remembers the ‘ bed’ in Edgar Poe’s story where it says that the bed closes up like a mouth. Isa turns on the tiny TV monitor.

The plane heaves slightly, then it shakes for a while as it bumps into clouds. O’my! It feels like one of its engine has fallen out, now it may spin and smash into the ocean. I even do not know how to swim. And what about my children? Who is going to recommend them as a Hallmark card whether they like it or not. The other day her son told her, ‘ Mom, I am almost thirty. Will you please not worry so much about me”. We have to let the adult children lead their own lives but it is the mother’s heart.

The plane bumps again. Isa closes her eyes and chants all the prayers. Her grandmother used to say, “ Pray in your mind and all the fears will disappear in thin air. Just like a magic.” After a few minutes Isa opens her eyes slowly. Across the aisle, a nun gets up stretching and gives her a little smile. Isa feels absurdly embarrassed. Isa remembers watching the discovery channel on ‘Bird migration’, they spend most of their lives on the wings back and forth, they are not scared at all. She should not.

Next day as the plane starts to descend, Isa feels the pressure builds up in her ears, it is like being underwater that time when she was almost drowned during the swimming lesson. It was really scary. Isa does not surface much of her emotions.The landing is smooth’ the engines roars, the wheels clawed, she jerks forward a little.

At the airport she adjusts her hair, applies a lip gloss and checks her face on the compact mirror..Her face looks calm, the way she wants to project herself. Outside the early evening sky is a tight-fitting grey cap,the street is thick with bodies and at the exit gate the excited faces of her family.


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