This was at Islamabad airport. A little girl tugged at my sleeve and asked me where I was going.
“Karachi,” I said.
“Aap hamare saath chalein…(Come with us)” she said.
I did not know her.
I walked to the refreshment counter. A woman in all black was sitting across. I joined her. I asked if she’d like some tea. Just like that. She held my hand. “You are an angel.”
“Do you know I have been on this flight from London, have not had time to change my money, these people won’t accept foreign currency and I really need tea…you are an angel.”
So, we sat and drank tea and munched on bars of chocolate.
“Are you married?” she asked.
“Was,” I said.
“I have never been married.”
“Good,” I told her, thinking it might reassure her that one less ‘achievement’ on her emotional CV made no difference.
“No. I would have liked to…just did not happen.”
Then she mentioned a young kid she met on the flight who was trying to hook her up with his uncle. It was sweet. She said she might meet him, although she was making an emergency trip because her father was ailing.
The flight to Karachi was announced and as we were walking I wished her the best with the 'uncle'. She said, “Hey, would you like to meet him, too?”
“Nah…you try him out, three is always a crowd,” I said.
She did not know me.
In the aircraft, I was getting bored. So I started looking around. The stewardess with the cropped hair kept asking if I wanted more tea. Then she said, “Aapki smile bohat achhee hai.(Your smile is very nice)”
She then squeezed my arm.
Did the ISI do flattery? Was she hitting on me?
The steward, a man with sparse grey hair, came up to my seat, “Aur kya khidmat kar sakte hai aapki? (What else can we do for you?)”
I started talking to him about literature and philanthropy, which meant about borrowed books. Why? I don't know. Then I told him he was one cheerful person. He felt good. He said I was cheerful too.
There was a man across the aisle. A good-looking man, I might add. We had a lot in common. We both wore yellow. As we were disembarking, we exchanged traveller smiles. You know the ‘I was airborne and you were airborne and we will be airborne again’ kind…he asked me if I'd like to join him for dinner because I looked familiar.
I said, yes, it is the yellow. That’s why I look familiar.
He started laughing. He thought I was amusing.
He gave me his card. Expat. Felt disoriented. As we waited for our vehicles, I told him about the places he could visit. An Indian telling a Pakistani about what to do in Pakistan. That was funny.
I got to my hotel. My friend from Isloo called. “How was the flight?” she demanded.
I told her. Everything.
“There must be something wrong with you. I travel this route so often but nothing like this ever happens.”
“Try yellow,” I said.
PS: I did not go out for dinner with Mr. Yellow.