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  • Diva Sharma

I’ve Always Wanted to Fly

I’ve always wanted to fly.

You could say that it was a childish dream that I had clung to. I’ve always imagined what it would feel like — the wind blowing past my face, the tiny buildings, the little people rushing about. It made me realise how unimportant we were in this vast universe.

I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to fly away from everything more than I want to at this moment. The results of the examinations were out. Happiness and disappointment mingled together in the air. I ambled towards the school notice board. I admit I wasn’t the brightest kid, but it wasn’t for the lack of trying. With no expectations and a heavy heart, I made my way through the hoard of students gathering in front of the notice board. I desperately started looking for my roll number on the board.

I didn’t pass. I couldn’t tolerate the bursts of joy echoing through the hallways. I covered my ears in hopes of being able to drown out the noise when I felt unfamiliar hot tears coursing down my cheeks.

I felt several pairs of eyes staring at me, witnessing this moment of weakness. I quickly brushed off my tears and strode down the hallway with the usual carefree look on my face, chin held up high in fake pride. I had pretended my whole life, right now wouldn’t be any different.

Their whispers lingered in the hallways. That’s what they always did, whisper. None of them ever had the courage to come up to me and say what they wanted to. I knew that some of them pitied me, some sympathized and some understood, but I could never make out what was fake and what was real.

I turned around and climbed up the stairs hoping to acquire some isolation and silence. My best friends. I’ve never really had people I could call friends. I suppose I surrounded myself with the wrong people - except Siya, of course.

As I trod up the stairs my teacher’s words from so long ago buzzed in my ears and I recalled what she said, “Jaya, why didn’t you complete your homework?”

I remember that terrified seven-year-old girl’s hushed, shaky response, “Ma’am, I didn’t understand the lesson...” The rest of the class snickered, and their laughs seemed to dominate my mind. The teacher’s eyes had softened, but I couldn’t bear to hear what she said next, and simply ran out the door, wanting to escape those ridiculing giggles.

I remember hanging my head low in shame, even though some part of me knew that I’d done nothing wrong. I remember how I wanted to cry but couldn’t. I remember it all.

I snapped out of my trance and realised I was already on the 3rd floor. I stopped for a moment, every muscle in my body screaming out in pain. I gazed at the remaining stairs through my sunken eyes and resumed my journey, a tug in my chest dragging me to see the same sky I’d fantasized about flying in for so long. Maybe then I could find some peace. Climbing was carried on with another tide of hurtful memories rushing in.

My father’s loud voice boomed in my ears, “I provided you with the best education I could…”

My feet had led me to the terrace. I opened the door with a jolt. I looked around. Not a single soul was present. All alone. My mother’s words came rushing into my mind, “Jaya, do well this time.”

This was it. The last straw. I tried to hold back the seething torrent of tears that had been building up but failed. I cried out to my heart’s content. I was done pretending that I was strong.

“What are you doing?”, a calm, inquisitive voice pierced through my trance and shook me back into reality.

I thought no one would be around. I slowly turned around to come face to face with the last person I wanted to see right now.

“Jaya?” Siya said again, her voice comforting.

I tried to speak but no words came out.

There stood Siya, staring at me at a moment like this. I didn’t want her seeing me like this - I didn’t want her to think I’m a coward. Ever since we became friends in first grade, I’d promised her that I’d be strong. I looked up to her, and she believed in me. Probably the only one who did.

My racing thoughts were interrupted by a soft touch on my hand, calming me. Before I knew it, she pulled me in and tightly held onto me. Her hug was like a warm blanket wrapped around a person who is shaking, cold and wet. Warmth filled me, and I felt the same comfort I do when I think about flying.

She hesitated, then opened her mouth. “ know how you’ve always wanted to fly? Well, think about it this way. Before a plane can actually fly, there’s always that rocky take-off stage, right? It’s not smooth, and vaguely scary, but after we get through that, we’re in the sky. Even flying doesn’t come without its complications, huh?” She smiled easily at me, and my heart wrenched at her words.

It made sense. I’d always dreamed about flying, but life didn’t give us anything for nothing. Maybe I was just in my rough take-off stage. I’ve always wanted to fly, and maybe I still could.

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