The Take-Off

‘Get on-board, fasten the seat belt.’

‘Get on-board, fasten the seat belt.’

Despite the promising destiny looming ahead,

In my mind, these were the words rooted, jolted and permanently dwelt.

‘Skip the window-seat, Skip the aisle-side.’

‘Skip the window-seat, Skip the aisle-side.’

Were the chants flashing uninhibited and bright.

For I had derived, sensible and safe was to sit between mere strangers and humbly abide.

‘Money in zip-pocket, papers in school-bag.’

‘Money in zip-pocket, papers in school-bag.’

These were the instructions to me, drilled and nailed,

For their greatest fear was that my wretched memory could again fail.

‘Eyes snap-shut, ear pods plugged, mouth loaded with gum.’

‘Eyes snap-shut, ear pods plugged, mouth loaded with gum.’

The words kept ricocheting every minute in my head.

For I knew take-off was the darned deal, and distraction was hard to come.

‘They love you, they’ll take good care.’

‘They love you, they’ll take good care.’

Was the little farewell message I got,

However, emotions got the better of me as I broke down wanting not to part.

‘See you soon, little man.’

‘See you soon, little man.’

I heard over the receiver just before I board,

Clutched in my fist was their photo; my parents to be, Denise and Diane.

Became an integral part of the slums here in Mumbai,

I was born and discarded at the tender age of five.

An IQ below fifty was the proof to a mind incredibly slow,

Parents figured out early, in the era of shining India, this young lad would never glow.

Abandoned near the airport where the largest slum dwells,

I still remember their faces; till date not a drop of remorse it tells.

Raised by a humble family who took this discarded kid under their wing

I remember spending ample time just standing and admiring the flights soar and sing.

Alas! For the family of five I was a burden to many, so they let me go

I spent a bulk of my time with stray dogs; perhaps an eternity, I really do not know.

A flight landed one day and a nice old lady picked me up,

She took me to her orphanage, instilling a false hope that life henceforth won’t be so rough.

Between forty other kids, to be honest, life wasn’t so bad

But except a handful who empathized, I was the scapegoat to be bullied making life incredibly sad.

Years rolled on and kids got picked by people willing an adoption,

Almost everyone got out except me, for I guess I wasn’t even considered an option.

Then flew in from the land that had had us captive for generations, two women on a quest,

A pair of British love-birds, married and settled, needing a birdling to complete their nest.

The instant they saw me they knew they had found the missing piece of their family tree,

I still remember weeping in their arms like a toddler, for deep down realization had struck me; I was finally going to be free!

So here I am as I board my first ever flight to London; my new home

I embrace my flaws, for now I have people who don’t care that I have a syndrome.

I take the window seat, for suddenly all my fear had magically perished,

Looking at my vague reflection smiling back at me, I hear him whisper – David, starting today, you will be cherished!