The Last Flight

the last flight

Days after Malaysian flight MH17 exploded in Ukraine, I board a KLM flight at Schiphol. I read during the long meander on the runway and snooze after take-off. I awake to the sound of a flight attendant asking, “What would you like to drink?” My mouth is dry. I spy my options; coffee, tea, or fruit juice, before he turns my way. When he does, his eyes widen, “Ma’am you’re reading that,” he gestures at my book, “here . . .  in this airplane?”

“Yes.”

“In this plane?”

“Um . . . yes?”

The Last Flight?”

I cringe, as I comprehend the irony. While he serves me tea without milk, I explain that it is a book about the civil war in Nigeria, which took place a long time ago.

“Would you like a sweet or salty snack?”

“Sweet please.”

He rolls his service cart up the aisle. Three rows up, I overhear him say to his colleague, “Zij leest het boek, The Last Flight, in dit vliegtuig!”

He motions with his chin. I tuck the book in the seat pocket. The chair cannot swallow me although I shrink my shoulders and slide lower in my seat.

Seat belts clack, clack, clack, and feet shuffle as soon as the plane taxies to a stop. At the door, he and the captain greet passengers goodbye. A huge Manfield bag, my laptop, and a suitcase that I struggled to fit in the overhead luggage compartment, I am Nigerian after all, are not agents of my discomfiture. I recite in my mind, how I will tell him that I do not have a death wish, that the book was a coincidence in poor taste, maybe joke about it. My fellow travellers’ impatience is contained by the queue in the narrow aisle. Will they forgive my small talk? Blond hair and blue eyes is already looking past me to the passenger behind. Does what a stranger think of me matter? I test the steps with my six-inch wedge. I wobble and steady myself. No more drama, I pray.

On my return trip, although I have not finished reading, The Last Flight, I read a Neil Gaiman novel. I crane in all directions searching for blond hair and blue eyes, as if his approval is penance that secures my redemption. He is not on this flight. I read Neil Gaiman’s title again, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I notice how a ‘P’ could have changed things and think about how one decision can alter events. Nevertheless, I still hide the book in the seat pocket just in case I am missing another irony.

 

P.s. remembering those who lost someone in a plane crash: Our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them. – George Eliot –

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2014

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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53 thoughts on “The Last Flight

      1. I am wondering if you are preparing a book or a radio talk. Just a thought! Sometimes I ask my Publicist to review your articles, we have come to conclusion, your writings deserve to be published on higher standards. Congrats!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Another nice article, Timi. Kinda reminds me about the sensitivity shown by airlines with their choice of movies (notice you will NEVER find a movie onboard with an airplane crashing in it). I was watching World War Z on an Emirates flight November last year and just when all hell broke loose with zombies terrorizing passengers till the plane was in a nose dive…suddenly there was a fade out and the next scene showed the aftermath with the few survivors (remember – airplane crash but no airplane in the process of crashing). It was only when I watched the movie again on cable TV that I got the full scoop. My heart goes out to all those affected by these traumatic occurrences.

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    1. Thanks Jollof. I hadn’t thought about airline sensitivity in that respect.True, who wants to watch a movie about an airplane crashing while cruising at 36,000 ft? But some people wouldn’t even make the connection . . . I guess that’s what I was guilty of.

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  2. This post was a challenge for me, I wanted to take your side, but could see the other side, too. You showed sensitivity on your returning home flight. I think it is so hard to always be aware of how others feel, but being or trying to be, ‘in tune’ with others helped you to understand. I like how you expressed this actually in your reply to Diahann. Thanks for this, thought provoking post.

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    1. In retrospect, I can laugh about this, but that day on the plane, I felt bad about my lack of sensitivity although unintentional. I think my reply to Diahann’s comment also set some context. Since it’s been a while since the incident, people may not immediately make the connection between Malaysian flight 17 and the state of mourning in The Netherlands.

      And, you don’t have to take my side Robin 🙂 I’m open to all viewpoints and learn from dissenting ones as well 🙂 Thanks!

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  3. Ha. We once saw a man who had been sat in the middle of the security area in Philly airport while he awaited clearance. He was wearing his ‘jokey’ Bomb Disposal Expert t-shirt, which I guess he might have regretted with the benefit of hindsight.
    They kept him on the ‘naughty chair’ for the entire time we were queuing and clearing security, passport control etc. while everybody pointed and chuckled.

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    1. I guess if I think about the fact that many Dutch nationals were killed on the Malaysian flight 17, and The Netherlands was still in a state of mourning, then I realize how insensitive I might have appeared. Moreover, he flies for a living . . .

      I think not having the opportunity to do penance, that is, explain myself the way I would have liked to, is what I regret. Maybe he will stumble on my blog 🙂

      Thanks Diahann!

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    1. Hi Tii, funny in retrospect. I mean there I was telling him that it was a book about the civil war in Nigeria, and what I was probably doing was reminding him about the conflict in Ukraine! I put my book and foot in my mouth!

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  4. Oh no. Hahaha. I guess it probably wasn’t the best choice of book eh. Isn’t it just crazy how we let the opinions of others, or disapproval/judgement take such a toll on us psychologically. I probably would have rehearsed something too.
    🙂

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    1. In retrospect, no! Good thing I didn’t have anyone sitting next to me, I would have been explaining my life away. At the time it seemed so important to set things straight, but I didn’t get the opportunity. 🙂

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  5. Nice try Timi. Can u imagine how someone’s comment can get us thinking and making
    efforts to ameliorate what we never damaged!

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  6. What if you were reading the Bible… Mary and Joseph’s “Flight into Egypt”… Pontius Pilot, er, Pilate… Sounds scary!

    I once took a book about an underwater research station onto a plane. I quickly discovered on page 1 that the hero was a plane-crash investigator, followed by several pages about what happens in plane crashes. I skipped ahead a bit…

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    1. I see where you’re going, Pontius Pilate (Pilot) . . . crucifixion . . . well there was a resurrection! 🙂
      I don’t blame you for skipping ahead. Did you get to the part about what to do in case?

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  7. Tims, l once watched one of these comedy clips from naija on you tube. The mean oga of the house had a sprained hand and during compulsory night devotion, he ordered the gate man to sing. He sang “it shall be permanent…what the lord has done for you..”. Sure oga barked him off:-) Just sharing a joke oh 🙂

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  8. Timi, interesting choice of novel to travel by air with! I think blond hair, blue eyes was a little nervous 🙂 I know that under the circumstances, I would have been too!

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  9. I remember jokingly ending a text to my cousin with “just in case we don’t land” and the elderly man seated beside me on the plane (who was obviously reading my text, damn it!) gave me such a dirty look that I deleted the text and pretended to sleep the rest of the flight.
    I love the line about being Nigerian and your luggage, makes me feel better about A LOT of things now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Those are very expensive jokes! 🙂
      The luggage thing . . . I need to blog about it! Kai, every time I see passengers near the weighing scale, packing and unpacking their luggage, I swear that they must be Nigerians!

      Liked by 1 person

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