I was standing in the queue for immigration and security at The Jinnah International Airport. I had landed on the Pakistani soil just a few minutes earlier, and my eyes were still shining bright from witnessing the city of lights from the airplane. Home. I was home. My heart was full, and so were my hands. I was juggling a laptop bag and handbag in one hand, while dragging my nearly empty hand carry with the other. I could have made my life slightly easier, but nothing seemed to matter than breathing in the ever so slightly dense Karachi air and seeing my parents.
As I stood in the line, which moved at a snail’s speed (make that a drunk snail), I saw a group of women and a man approaching. I assumed that they wanted to pass, so I moved a few steps back to make enough room for them to go through.
Two ladies from the group joined the line, in front of me, while another lady and a man queued up behind me. I felt like an unappreciated gatekeeper, who opens doors and never gets a smile or a thank you. I took a deep breath, and said to myself, “Its okay. They are elderly. And dad will be coming in a little late anyway.” All was back to being rosy, but not for long.
You see, the lady behind me had no concept of personal space. I stood with a respectable distance between myself and the line-jumping-lady in front of me. However, my back was ever so awkwardly brushing against her breast. I gulped, turned around, and gave her a pleading look to maintain some distance. She paid no heed, of course.
Moving forward, I firmly placed my hand luggage behind me, hoping that it would ensure some distance. But this lady was a persistent little minx. She started low key kicking my bag. I bit my lip, took a deep breath, turned around to face her and said politely: “ager mai aage wali aunty se chipak bhi jaongi tou bhi line ussi speed per barhegi jis per abhi barh rahi hai.”
To my utter surprised, she giggled, like a mischievous little girl (she’d easily be 60ish). That made me smile as well, so I gave up. We stood in amicable silence, with a shove here and a kick there, until I was next in the line to get to the counter.
There is a very clear marking to indicate where the next person needs to stay while waiting for their turn. It is red in colour for additional impact. But our dearest aunty chose only to look up and forward. She hand-gestured me to moved forward, appalled that I would let all of 50 inches come between her and me.
“Iss line se aage nahi ja sakte,” I mumbled, knowing full well that she won’t understand a word. She tapped my shoulder next, followed by the same ‘move forward’ hand gesture.
I turned around, pointed towards the red line, and said, “isse aage jana mana hai. yaha intezaar kerna hai.” She sensed the irritation in my tone and nodded her head in agreement, after an exaggerated ‘OHHH’.
Finally, it was my turn to get stamped and be gone.