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by Sutapa Basu (Book Preview) | Published On:

Petrified, she stared through the clear glass of the window on the nineteenth floor. It was coming directly towards her. The steaming mug in her hand shook. No, it had not changed route even now. Hot coffee spilled, scaldingher fingers. She could not even look down. Her eyes were glued to the chopper. It was flying straight at her, coming closer and closer. Cockpit, tail rotor, main fuselage, main rotor were visible now. A vision streamed through her mind; the plane exploding into the WTCtowers; buildings collapsing like a pack of cards; people running, terror writ large on their faces!

Is it about to happen again? To me?

By now, the chopper was close enough. She could see into thePlexiglas cockpit. The pilot was wearing a white helmet and some kind of brown parka.

But can he see me? Can he see that he is heading right into me? Is his chopper out of control? Or does he want to crash into me? No … no… must be a mistake. Who will want to attack me?Nobody knows mein Chicago city.

She did not want to die! How could she stop it…stop herself from decimating into thin air?

Should I fold my palms and plead? He should understand that universal gesture, even if my words don’t reach him.Would he let me go, then?

The chopper closed in, looming up… huge… gigantic…filling the entire window! Frozen, terrified, she could not even take a step back. Across the divide of a couple of feet, her numb mind noted the grin plastered on the pilot’s face. That was all she could make out as the rest of her face was hidden behind helmet and goggles. Eyes wide open,she braced for the impact; the tremendous blow; the blast; the pain. Seemingly on the verge of crashing into the room, the chopper suddenly veered away. Itclimbed upsteadily, as if pulled away by invisible wires. It moved out of sight… a tiny bit of the rotor appeared to hover for an instant at the corner of the window frame. Then it was gone. Achak-chak, chak-chak sound echoed in the empty room. Motionless, Ipshita stared at the corner unable to believe what had not happened; chak-chak, chak-chak…progressively further and fainter. The whirring finally faded into a deafening silence!

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