by Manohar Naidu
(Virginia, USA )
The Goa-Mumbai flight landed, taxied and stopped near the allotted aerobridge. I too unfastened the seat belt and picked up the only and small carry bag from the rack. Of late, I had stopped carrying check - in baggage during my short visits to various places. As I passed through the exit door, courteous smiles of the air hostess bid good bye. Last, the youngest and cutest hostess with a very affectionate smile, gave a paper packet. I took it thinking it must be a promotional gift from the airline. In the corridor, I was wondering as to why only I was offered the packet.
The moment I came out of the arrival gate, my daughter Kamini greeted and virtually made me run to her car parked in the parking area. She said, “Mama, be fast. After dropping you home, I have to rush to my office for an urgent meeting.”
I said, “My dear, you could have called me. I would have picked a cab.”
“I am sorry Mom, but I got a very short notice, and Dad’s work schedule and your flight schedule always clash.”
Kamini’s attention was on the traffic ahead. I did not distract her, till I reached home. ”Bye. Take care.” I was always proud of her. At a very young age, she had reached a senior and respectable position in a multinational IT company of repute.
Got onto the couch. The maid had already placed the coffee on the side table. Picked up the packet I received from the air hostess and opened it. There was a small beautiful handwritten note on a piece of paper which read – “Respected Madam, WITH GREETINGS - D R E A M Z.” The nicely packages packet contained assorted cookies and chocolates. There was nothing to indicate that the gift was a promotional packet by the airline or any other agency.
“DREAMZ.” Circa 1998. I got lost in nostalgia. My daughter was eight years. Her school had arranged a “Best Kids wear” competition. One month’s time was good enough for me to make a unique dress for my daughter. My part time diploma in Fashion Design and Dress -making which I had acquired with high grade, before marriage, was beckoning me to kick start the wrapped-up talent. After going through many ideas, I made her dress ready on time by using sheer baby pink silk chiffon, with suitable frills and a couple of twinkling stars. Kamini with the golden embroidered broad waistband with glittering red and clearly visible word “D R E A M Z “ across the band, was the winner of the event.
After a year or so, along with other
clothes, this dress was also donated to the orphanage located in the vicinity. On one early winter morning in 2000, I was shocked to read the headline of the local news paper. It read “DREAMZ” SHATTERED. In yet another hit and run incident, an eight year old girl, who was walking on the zebra crossing on Mount Road was hit by a recklessly driven bike whose rider was jumping the signal. The victim is admitted in St. Mary’s Hospital and is in urgent need of blood. Ironically, she was returning to her orphanage after winning the “Best Kids wear” competition wearing the pink frock with a broad belt on which was written DREAMZ.”
Immediately, I folded the newspaper, picked up my bag and reached the hospital on my Scooty. I met the authorities, and volunteered to offer my blood. Fortunately my blood group matched the child’s blood group. The girl was conscious and spoke to me. Her name was Disha. She was an inmate of an orphanage and also the monitor of her group, studying in a school located in the vicinity.
It surprised me when she said, she knew me. She added “You are a regular donor to us in cash and kind. Today by soul also. I still remember the pink frock which you had donated, and I had worn the same yesterday.” I told her to be quiet and wished her quick recovery. On way back home, in the back of my mind I wished I had not donated the dress. Then, probably, this mishap would not have taken place.
The landline ringing continuously broke my reverie.
“Hello,” I answered.
“Good morning. Am I speaking to Madam Chitra Iyer?” the caller enquired.
“You are,” I said.
“ Ma’am, I am the airhostess who had given you a small packet while you were getting out of the plane.”
For a moment, I thought she had given the packet by mistake and may ask me to return it.
She continued, “I am Disha. Perhaps you may recall the incident which took place more than fourteen years back when you had donated blood to a girl in St. Mary’s Hospital.”
Strangely, my nostalgia and her call coincided.
“Yes, I do remember,” I said in excitement.
“Ma’am, due to grace of God, your kind charity and help, now I have become an airhostess.” Perhaps her voice became choked due to emotions. She continued, “I still remember the beautiful award winning pink dress DREAMZ. This small packet is my gesture of happiness”.
After some more exchange of pleasantries and listening to her successful career graph, I wished her luck so that many of her DREAMZ may blossom further. End