‘Now, why did I need to know that?’, was an obvious thought, as the gentleman next to me described how his uncle wasn’t pleasant and would spoil any or rather all family occasions. It had been 45 minutes since this middle aged passenger insisted on making small talk, entirely for his convenience. I felt a humdrum alert when a conversation opener about how often I travel, was thrown in my direction. I should have ignored it but instead smiled and answered politely. It definitely wasn’t the right time to be humble.
What next! My reaction opened doors to a world of wearisome and soul-destroying monologue. He managed to paint a picture of his burdensome and traumatic life ordeals with incomparable passion. ‘Did he know the torture people went through while being made to live those moments again?’ Who would know? I was more at ease believing he was unaware of his skill to wrap life into a highly negative and pessimistic experience.
By then, my idea of a calm, composed and delightful journey was a lost dream. I stared at the TV-screen, which listed movies I wanted to watch. The tedious talk made it so difficult for me not to frequently glance into my bag, which stored the novel I purchased for this flight. I even tried pulling it out partially which effectively distracted my ludicrous acquaintance but it only shifted the topic but didn’t cease the commentary. Unfortunately for me, he was familiar with the writer and what could have prevented him from sharing every bit of detail about the novel and how it was brought to effect.
The explanation came as a splash of noise striking my ears heavily and forcing words into my saturated brain. I had my emergency pills ready, for a headache was on its way. I could have traded my life for some silence. Even awkward silence would have been blissful. However, desiring it around him was wishful thinking. I knew my thought process was shutting down and I was thinking bizarrely.
“I will be right back,” I lied quietly and escaped from my seat clutching my bag tightly. A blank look spread across his face, as he was interrupted while making a break-through invention of ‘how air travel can be made more comfortable’, mostly for his own sake. I had lost all patience and walked straight ahead, not even knowing what my plan was.
Almost unconsciously I sat on the first empty seat I found and adjusted myself comfortably. It felt delightful. Just then, a young lady, probably gone to visit the lavatory, was back. She smiled at me from the seat next to me. I gave a very unfriendly and ‘don’t even think about it’ glare back, turned in the other direction, pulled a cloth on my face and went off to sleep.
As an amateur traveler, I always fancied meeting strangers and sharing life-enhancing experiences. I often imagined exchange of cultural ideologies, comparing respective civilizations and probably gaining practical insight into varied lifestyles. However, the shock of my first experience was bound to impact this idea and it would be years before I would even consider glancing at someone seated next to me.