A small coin rolled off the surface of the base of the hangar, twirling around slowly as its weight started giving way, and finally came to a halt. The dust settled on the floor served as an obstruction to its path. No one looked up. The soldier stood straight in an upright position, being a person who is accustomed to the stiffness of the official uniform. He stood there motionless with a dead blank expression on his
face. The mechanic went about his work, his tired oil soaked hands gnawing at the bunch of wires and soiled manuals. The hangar was cold and smelled of stale air, sweat and gasoline. As each of the F/A-22 Raptors landed, a strong burst of air filled the runway, though it was reduced to a trickle on reaching the hangar, managing to ruffle some of the rotten dust.
The soldier craned his neck to see the woman’s reaction on dropping the coin, whom he had been ordered to accompany to base. Her expression was blank and listless, as she stared at the motionless coin for a long time. Her crossed legs were thin, her hands were small, yet her stature showed strength. She supported herself on her palms, which were glued to the bench. Her eyes closed for a moment, as some strands of her hair fell on her face. She rose slowly, without a hint of a sound, as her red rimmed
kajal stained eyes glistened brightly in the sidelight. Her pace was fast and her walk elegant, but her hands trembled. Her eyes spoke of fear, of guilt. She bent down to retrace the coin and put it in her front pocket. “Front pockets on such dresses? Tch tch,” he used to say. She smiled at the thought of him, as a slow tear made its way down.
She began her slow walk back to the staging area. Soldiers, hangarmen and guards shifted uncomfortably in their positions making their nervousness evident at the sight of a woman. She didn’t care. She strolled freely, with a womanly grace, her soft elegant strides landing on the heavily paved marble. She unknowingly ignored the stares, as she thought of one man. The man whom she had spent years with, a man who could make her smile in the worst of situations, one who could do anything to
see her happy. A man who cared about her more than his life. A man whom she was going to disappoint. She had told everyone to stay shut. She wanted to tell him himself. She trembled at the thought as it persisted in her head.
Dust and gravel filled the air as another Raptor landed. A dark, six foot, heavily built man climbed down the co-pilot’s cockpit. He removed his helmet and marched down to the staging area. The soldier saluted him and escorted him to his cabin, where his lady visitor stood waiting.
He entered the cabin and she turned to face him. He smiled jovially, and wiped the sweat of his brow. She returned the smile, trying to remain calm. He looked straight into her deep dark frightened eyes, her red rimmed tear ridden eyes. He dropped his helmet and walked up to her. Her legs gave way as she slumped against his heavy frame, as he held her and comforted her. Tears streamed down her face, as he looked at her, confused. He did not demand an explanation, nor did he worry about her. He just looked at her with a calm expression on his face, patiently waiting for her to tell him what happened. His eyes quivered as he wondered what it could be. She politely distanced herself from him, looked down and whispered, her voice croaking , trying to overcome the lump in her throat.
“Papa, Ma is no more.”