The day we brushed shoulders with Angel of Death

This incident happened nearly 4 years ago. I guess it was too scary to pen it down but we did tell this story to families and friends near us, including students sometimes. Every time we tell the story, it's like reliving the past. I would advise you to make/ buy some popcorn before reading this post because:

a) It's going to be long;

b) It's so dramatic that you might think you are watching a soap opera.

OK, here goes. It was February 2014 as I remember. We were supposed to go to New Delhi to present academic papers at a Law Conference. Both of us were so excited because this is the first Legal Conference where we get to present our papers. All of the conferences we attended before were mainly for Social Science. 

It was scheduled to be on for three days but we decided to stay for another four days for sightseeing purposes. We were going to New Delhi after all. Of course Taj Mahal was on our 'Must Visit List'!

I searched for an affordable flight from many websites but it seemed that there was only one airline that could bring us there. I was happy because this meant we would be boarding from the KLIA and not the LCCT.

On the day of departure, Mr H and I arrived early at the airport. We had our meal and we were so excited waiting for the flight that we couldn't sit still. It was a morning flight. Everything was in order and as soon as we were on the plane, we smiled at each other. First time to India. We were creating memories.

Ah, memories. Maybe I shouldn't use that word for fear of waking up the jinx. Well, we wanted to create memories together, and guess what. That's what we got. Memories. Together.

Drama starts here.πŸ‘‡

The plane was taking off but not a few minutes after, we heard a loud thump that came from the back of the plane. It was quite glaring. Mr H and I looked at each other and both thinking at the same time, "What was that?" Mr H stopped a stewardess and asked. She replied, "Oh I'm not sure sir. But I'll ask the Captain and get back to you later."

She didn't. So hours passed by and we had actually forgotten all about it. I did notice something weird though. When I asked if I could have more orange juice, the stewardess attending me, not only delivered the one I asked for but also apple juice, pineapple juice and few additional cups along the side. 

I requested for more peanuts, and she dropped like 5 packets of peanuts on my lap. "Hmmm, that's weird," I thought to myself. At that point of time I did not know, that the juices and peanuts might be the last meal I was able to consume, alive.

An hour before we were scheduled for landing, the Captain voice came through the loud speaker. I will remember the name of the Captain until the day I leave this world!πŸ˜‚

"Hi there, this is Captain J. Before we took off just now, you must have heard a loud thump. Well, a tyre had burst. Don't worry. Of course we are all well-trained to handle this situation. It's just like driving on the road and having a tyre burst. That's all. However, we are going to make an emergency landing and all crews will be assisting you on the method. Bye."

Emm... bye??!!! Bye??!!! That's all? What about... emm.. I don't know, maybe... Innalillah.. or announcing we are on the way meeting the Angel of Death??!!

How could he compare the tyre of a car to a tyre of a plane? Even when driving a car, and your tyre suddenly burst while you are speeding... 90% chances is, you are going to meet your Creator. And we were on a plane going for.. I don't know 300 km/ph?

Ok, calm down, calm down! But I couldn't. The whole plane was in chaos. I could hear the passengers whispering to each other loudly. Maybe saying their final words. The stewards and stewardesses were busy moving to and fro.

I looked at Mr H, calm and collected. Like a cat sunbathing on the beach. There was not even a strike of worry expressed on his face. I finally found the courage to say, "So, this is how we die." 

Mr H looked at me with a smile and replied. As if the name of the Captain who had put me in this near-death situation, I would also never forget what Mr H replied, "Don't worry. If Allah wants to take us now, if it is His wishes. Let Him. We had lived a full life and we had gotten everything that we had asked for." 

I felt my face turned red! I told Mr H, half angry and half sad, "No!!! How could you say that? There are still things that I want in life and Allah still had not given me. There are ... (started to list down the things that I wanted and had prayed for them from Allah)." I knew that was not the best time to be listing all your du'as but I just didn't know how to respond to Mr H calmness on this matter. Actually, his calmness annoyed me. Very much.

A stewardess approached Mr H and said something. I couldn't be bothered to eavesdrop. Was too busy crying and reciting the syahadah. Well, if I was going to die, then at least let me die with my iman intact. 

Mr H instructed me, "Let's move to the front seat. The stewardess told us to sit closer to the emergency exit door." I noticed that there were a few elder women sitting there at first, but the stewardess ushered them to the back. So I asked Mr H why do we have to move? Mr H told me, "The stewardess wants someone young to sit near the emergency window so that if anything happens, that person can be trusted to pull the exit handle." 

"What??!!!" I was not crying anymore, I was sobbing. Well, maybe complaining... "Why must we, the young ones be seated so near the window. What if the window explodes first. The aunties (referring to the elder women) should sit there, there are old, they had lived their life. We are still young!" 

Pardon my feelings at that point of time but you have to know that I was expected to die in an hour time so, sanity was not part of me. I apologize truly for this statement made while I was unsoundmind, and I understand perfectly that the Angel of Death does not choose who he wants to see. Old, young, babies, newborns, whoever...

We still moved to the window though. The crazy talk had started. I remember telling Mr H to put our passports in our pockets so that even if we are burnt beyond recognition, people can still know who we were. (Even though Mr H countered my arguments. He said that if we are all burnt, the passports too wouldn't hold long in the fire). 

Whatever Mr H, you really have a way in crushing all my dreams.😠 We were on the way attending a conference on behalf of the university, I imagined the VC himself coming to New Delhi and collect both of our bodies.πŸ˜“

Suddenly Mr H turned to me and said, "If we crash today, I hope we will just die. I don't want to be crippled for life. That would be imposing on people to look after us." Mr H, Mr H, do I look like I care about imposing people at that point of time. Arrghhhh... I don't want to dieeee and I obviously don't want a broken limb, broken arm and certainly don't want to be a cripple. I want to live with all my body parts intact!!! 

So I looked at him, with a witch look, "You know what. I don't think you are going to die from the crash. I think you are going to die because I strangle you here!" Since we were dying, being charged with Section 302 Penal Code was the last thing that I could be bothered with. Well, I have many students who are practicing lawyers now, they can defend me if I am ever charged with 302. 

I noticed that the plane was flying in a circle so I asked Mr H, what was the Captain doing. There's no time to play musical chair up in the air. Mr H told me the Captain wanted to ease the fuel into the ocean so that if we crash, it could limit the amount of explosion.

I was worried about the plane landing. Mr H too, it seemed. Because he was in charge of pulling the handle to the exit door. He was thinking about the impact if we landed on land and also the impact if we were to land on water. 

I asked, "Do you think it is safer to land on water? At least there won't be any friction." And do you know how he responded...arrghhhh!!! Why did I ever say Yes to this man when he asked me to marry him!!! "Yes, it is safer to land on water. But this is the Indian Ocean, there are lots of sharks in there." 

I could tolerate if sharks actually look like this!

Ohhh Myyyy Goooddddddd! Was it necessary to educate me on sharks geographical location when we were expected to die in a few minutes? That was not a time for National Geographic show. So I gave him the witch look again, this time without saying anything.

I cried and cried. I was holding Mr H's hand all the time. Suddenly a steward came to me and gave me a pat on my shoulder. I still remember he was trying to be calm, but failed miserably. He tried to talk me out of crying, "Don't worry Madam. It's all going to be OK." 

Such a liar! He couldn't even hide the sweats on his forehead and he told me to relax. I whispered to Mr H, "If I die and become a ghost, that would be the first man I'm going to haunt!"

We were getting near to the airport, we could see it from the window. You know what else I saw? Few ambulances, fire brigades, a troop of army together with a tank (a tank! Can you believe it?) and also people wearing those silver outfits (like the ones we see in 9-11 documentaries) holding a hose. 

Wow, they were really expecting a big explosion. Or else a big war. Why else would the tank be there??? I also came to realize we were not allowed to land anywhere near the terminal for fear the (would be) explosions caught the whole airport. If you ask me now, I felt so sad at that point of time. We were dying and they were going to let us die alone. They didn't even want us to be near them.

If you are on land, and you are told that you are going to die in an hour, what would you do? You can go to the nearest mosque and pray, you can start dialing the phone numbers of your loved ones and asking for forgiveness or maybe go to the nearest 7-11 and drink Slurpee for the last time. But we were hanging on the clouds, there was nothing we could do. Except making du'as together with the (annoying) husband.😯

I asked for forgiveness from Mr H. He did too. Actually he should have asked for my forgiveness more because he traumatized me with the National Geographic lesson on sharks. We recited the syahadah together. I hug his arms. If I was to die, I wanted to die with the man I love, no matter how annoying he was on my last day on earth. I closed my eyes. Tears still falling.

Suddenly, I heard the Captain's voice again. Only this time, he was giving instructions for us to brace. The stewards and stewardesses did the same. They were shouting, "Brace! Brace! Brace!" We had to put our heads in between our knees and placed both of our hands behind our heads. I couldn't control my tears. I was sobbing hysterically. "I am going to die, Ya Allah. Please let me die peacefully."

I heard a loud thud. The whole plane was shaking and we could hear rumbling sounds clearly. There were screaming too (errr.. I am 99.9% sure I was not among those who screamedπŸ˜…) Then, there was total silence. 

Oh we had landed! All praises to the Almighty. All of us started to look up and clapped our hands as a show of respect to the Captain. He had done a good job in landing the plane even with only one good tyre left.

I hugged Mr H. We were both crying, but this time, the tears of joy. We saw through the window all the army waiting for us. The Captain announced that we had landed safely but had to remain in our seats. It seemed that they suspected terrorists involved so before we were allowed to board the plane, the army was going to scan the whole parts of the plane.

I couldn't care less. I was just happy that we had landed safely and I was still alive. It took nearly 1 hour before we were allowed to leave the plane. They had arranged for a bus to take us to the terminal because we had landed so far from it.

When we were going down the flight stairs, we saw the tyre that had exploded. There wasn't any rubber left. You could see the naked iron clearly. And the tyre next to it? Half of the rubber had peeled and was actually slapping the naked tyre. WE WERE IN A HAZARDOUS SITUATION!

We waited another hour to finally get our luggage. Because of the suspected terrorism, they had scanned our bags one by one, three times. We saw the Captain and Mr H rushed to him extending his hands, shaking them vigorously, "Thank you Captain. We owe our life to you!" 

To which the Captain flashed a smile. Again. Just a smile? What about... Oh, thank God we are able to breathe. Or Alhamdulillah we are not burnt charcoal now! But whatever. As a pilot, maybe that was not his first time to encounter such moment.

If you have to know, this incident actually happened a month BEFORE the MH 370 vanished. I couldn't imagine if it was to happen after. It would have been scarier. That was why when I heard the news about MH 370, I had a fever. I was so shocked and I felt like I knew what they were feeling at the very last moment before they disappeared. I sincerely hope that there would be closure for the victims loved ones soon.

So let's talk about India... The Taj Mahal was breath-taking, as expected. The conference went well. We both presented our papers successfully. I think we both enjoyed our time there despite the horrific experience we endured before we arrived. Well, maybe Mr H was not having an enjoyable time, because I was pestering him everyday while we were in India "Can we go back to Malaysia by ship pleaseeeeeee???"πŸ˜›

No comments:

Post a Comment