Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Great Leveller

Henry Mpenga could hear his class and his rows of seats being called for boarded. He had waited patiently for his name to be called; as his area of seating was called, he found himself in a melee and was being pushed around. Finally, a semblance of order was restored and he found he was gently pushed towards his seat. The stewardess, with a high lack of interest of Mpenga’s well being, directed him to his seat with a plastic smile. Mpenga found his seat in the middle row and unfortunately it was not an aisle seat; he looked for a place in the overhead bin for his luggage, but found that it was already overflowing. He had called out for help and the stewardess told him to stow his bag underneath the seat in front of his. Mpenga wondered if they could repeat it even when they were woken from his sleep. Mpenga stowed, rather stuffed under the seat, his luggage and then squeezed himself into the inside seat; with his generous built and height found himself to be constrained. He wanted to get another seat; he looked around, but looked like he had no freedom to find another seat. A few minutes later, he found both the seats on either side were occupied and he found that he was constricted more. After what seemed like a punishing time, the plane was ready to take off. Mpenga who had a weak bladder wanted to go, but he looked up – the seat belts signs was still on – he had to endure it for a long while. As soon as the plane reached a cruising altitude (the pilot said), the seat belts signs were switched off. Mpenga wanted to get to the toilet; the person on the aisle seat who has just settled down to a snooze across the trans-Atlantic flight, did not like one wee bit that he was being asked to get up. He gave enough hints to Mpenga that he would not appreciate being asked to move out every few hours (“There goes, thought Mpenga; he killed the very idea of moving out of his seat once in a while to loosen and keep the blood-circulation going). Mpenga went to the toilet and had to wait until the queue dissolved; he was thankful that he just got into the toilet as he relieved himself. He regretted that he needed to ask his neighbor to move out again to fit himself. As Mpenga eased himself back into the seat, he began feeling hungry. The little peanut pack only acted as a teaser; as he asked the passing stewardess, he was told that he needed to wait and he would be served lunch in about half hour. Mpenga wished he was in ground and was free to just walk across the street to a food joint to buy something that would satiate his hunger right now; however, with no options, he waited; fighting to stay awake and his hunger. After what seemed an interminable wait, the stewards wheeled in the food; a tray with some standard fare was plonked in front of him; it was ordinary and cold. He wished he had some choices; but there was no luck, since the stewardess told him that it was a full flight – he did not get the relation, but then let it go. After the sumptuous lunch (Mpenga thought wryly), Mpenga snoozed off. As he was just dropping off into a deep sleep, he was awakened by the noise: the stewardesses were getting ready to serve food; He wanted to go relieve himself, but he found his 35D neighbor feigning sleep looking away from him. After he could hold no longer, Mpenga awoke the 35D and slipped out. He freshened himself in the toilet, looking forward to return to his homeland. When he got out, he found he could not get to his seat, since the stewardesses were serving food and the cart was between himself and his seat. The stewardess motioned him to wait and he moved incrementally as they moved serving food. Finally, the whole train reached his row and he was allowed to get into his seat. As soon as he settled down, he was given another decrepit food of vague recipe. Mpenga, who did not want to stay hungry for another hour, just gobbled it up. As soon as the yet another lunch service (“An oxymoron” thought Mpenga) was done with, the seat-belts lights came on; and the in-seat incarceration began… Finally, after 7 hours of flight time, the pilot said that they would be landing soon in Mpenga’s country. Henry Mpenga looked forward to it, as the plane touched down in the capital city.

Henry Mpenga was traveling incognito. Henry Mpenga, the greatest freedom fighter who was in the threshold of emancipating his country from the oppressors was returning to finish off the occupiers. It was the last thrust of the sword that will kill the occupation. It Henry Mpenga’s revolutionary ideas, his incessant questioning of rules and oppression, first from within the country and then from exile, his refusal to accept constraints in choices had inspired the whole nation to raise against the occupation and he was in the threshold of success. Henry Mpenga, who rebelled against the idea of being told what to do against his free will, had endured through the seven hours of being told what he needs to do; He now stood patiently awaiting the stewardess’ signal that he is free to move out of the plane.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

good and well written too :-)