T005: Madurai: A long wait

After the enchanting visit to the north, I got a chance to visit the south in the very next week! This time Madurai was the first halt. A 6 day long FDP was organised by the famous Thagarajar College of Engineering, at Madurai, and I was supposed to be there for a session on the 5th day and also on the concluding day (16-17 February)!

I flew early morning from Mumbai to Chennai, and was quite time consuming on the account of the recent attacks at Pulwama on 14 February. I then changed over to a plane headed towards Madurai. It was a short trip, and I was planning to catch some sleep, since I had left my home around 3:30 AM! I woke up to realise that we had landed at Madurai, and (as usual), I saw many of the passengers scrambling to get out of the plane as early as they can. This took a while, and there was no sign of the gates opening.

I could see that the passengers were now visibly (and vocally) disturbed, and started questioning the crew. Since it was mainly in Tamil, I could not participate, but could understand (and also share) their emotions. Somehow, it got resolved and we were out of the plane. As we were walking through the jet bridge, I realised that the volumes of the agitating passengers calmed down suddenly. I looked outside, to see a heart warming visual!

A coffin was being off leaded from a small military aircraft. The coffin was covered in tricolour, which made all of us realise the gravity of the matter… it was the body of a brave martyr, which was being received at Madurai.

Image Courtesy: The Hindu

As I came out of the gate I could see a lot of grim faces. Garlands, Indian flags, and placards bearing the name of the brave soldier. As I got in to the cab sent by the college, I saw a large crowd waiting on the road, and all over the parking area of the airport. My driver asked, “Flight was late Sir?”. “A little bit”, I replied, getting inside the cozy car.

He then told me that the people gathered all over the area, were the relatives and friends of the martyred soldier. They had come over to get him back to his village, where he was supposed to be cremated. He also added that they have been waiting for his body to arrive for last few hours, not aware of the exact timing of the military aircraft.

The driver put on his belt, and said, “Let us go, you are already late”, and was about to push the horn. “Wait!” I almost shouted…”Please don’t press the horn. Let us wait and see him go off”.

I just realised how, we often overreact to something which is happening for a genuine cause!

Read more about Flight Lieutenant K. Praveen in these articles appeared in The Hindu and The Times of India.

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