It was a long haul flight, during the early autumn of 2008, from New York to New Delhi.
Air India 112.
As we took off, the famous skyline of New York silhouetted with its towering buildings, an architectural wonder, slowly began to recede far into the background.
Soon we would be flying over Canada. If we were fortunate we would get to witness the northern lights in a dark velvet sky, a wondrous celestial scene, with fountain bursts of coloured lights beaming in the far horizon.
Northern Lights is a common name for the Aurora Borealis in the Northern Hemisphere. It is a natural luminous display in high altitude regions and I have always watched this natural phenomena, with complete marvel, great awe and silent gratitude to Beloved Bhagawan.
I wrapped up my duties in the forward section of the aircraft where I was designated to work that evening and went to the rear of the airplane, knowing that an extra set of hands during peak dinner service, with a full load of passengers, is always welcome.
As I came up into the cabin with the Tea and Coffee pots, a lady passenger approached me at the aisle cross section near the second last doors (emergency exits) and asked me for an article to meet her sanitary requirement.
Placing the pots on that galley top, and sensing her urgency, I went to the aft galley to fetch what she required.
Something about her pale demeanour bothered me and as I hurried back to her I noticed that she wasn’t standing where I had left her.
I quickly scanned the galley area near door three, where she had been waiting, next to the crew jump seat on the left side of the aircraft, but I could not spot her. Even as I hastened my pace through the aisle, I could make out a passenger slumped on the galley floor with her legs protruding into the cabin.
Up close I could identify her as the same lady!
I immediately lifted the handset to page for a doctor and simultaneously reached for the oxygen bottle as a first aid measure.
A constant ‘Sairam’ echoed within as I began administering oxygen to her. To my relief a lady doctor came up to offer her services and she happened to be a Gynecologist! She was an Indian settled in the US.
Another young girl, as yet an intern, was very eager to be of any assistance.
Incessant grace indeed!
One of my colleagues swiftly brought the first aid box…in fact later we had to open almost all the first aid boxes on that aircraft, as we urgently needed, some item or the other to bring a kind of stability to our ‘air-borne’ patient.
Another colleague and me prepared a make shift bed with blankets upon the galley floor and thereafter gently placed this passenger on it. After this we drew the galley curtains.
The doctor then got in to action.
This lady I had noticed earlier was seated in the mid cabin section, (there are three cabins in the economy section of the 777 – 200 aircraft). She had two children travelling with her, one was probably three years old and the other six years. They were tenderly looked after by the other stewardesses while two of us attended to their mother.
The doctor did an internal check up and said that the lady was hemorrhaging. Though she felt she was experiencing her menstrual time but the doctor confirmed that what she was going through was actually a miscarriage.
A fine time for a miscarriage…in mid-air… and that too when she had no clue that she was pregnant!
Her bleeding would not stop. It would recede when the doctor massaged her internally but then resume once again. We opened up ever so many cotton rolls, pads, tissues, gauzes, saline bottles etc. The Supervisor of the flight sat on guard outside the closed curtains, handing over all our requirements from the first aid kits he was surrounded with.
Intermittently I kept asking the doctor if we should inform the Captain about landing at the closest en route station but she was confident things would be normal soon.
Though we gave her saline and were doing everything within our capacity at that height, with the equipment we had, something was worrying me.
I excused myself and went to get that precious something ever present in my handbag and which for me is a panacea for all ailments – my ‘little’ box of the ‘mighty’ vibhuti!
As I returned to this improvised ‘hospital’ unit way up higher than the clouds, I could make out that our lady patient was unusually pale. Her response was also not too good. Her pressure was rapidly falling. I started chanting ‘Sairam’ aloud while putting some vibhuti in her mouth and forehead.
To my surprise the doctor also began to repeat ‘Sairam’ and soon I could hear our patient whispering the same!
I had a tiny picture of Swami with the sacred manifestation of the hiranyagarbha lingam and I touched it to the body of this passenger as the chants were intensified.
His benevolence was of utmost urgency here and now.
Her little children in the cabin were innocently unaware of what was happening to their mother and I called upon the Mother of all mothers for remedial grace.
I remember the doctor saying that this ‘Sairam’, was the only thing that could save the situation. Though she was supremely confident and very efficient but we were around 39000 feet up in the sky and there were certain limitations that we faced. A while later to our immense relief, our ‘patient’ somewhat regained her senses.
I looked at the doctor once again with the same question on my lips and urgent concern in my eyes, for we were as yet 13 hours away from Delhi.
Her acute blood loss was making her pressure fall. This time the doctor agreed that the Captain should be informed about the latest developments, that this lady needed specialized care.
I hurried all the way to the cockpit, after informing my Supervisor. While updating the Commander of the flight, I let him know that the condition of our patient could become very serious and unmanageable in-flight.
After consulting the doctor, the Captain took the decision to divert the flight to London Heathrow, which though two hours away, was the closest airport en route.
We now had to prepare the passenger for the landing. Her children were by this time a wee bit anxious about their ‘Mommy’. We saw to it they were together for the landing after we dressed ‘Mommy’ in the night suit available as giveaways in the Executive Class.
She smiled feebly, happy to be with her children, though she looked frail and weak after the tremendous amount of blood loss, which we had tried hard to stem.
When I finally tidied up the galley unit, trashing the items used to soak the flow of blood, it filled more than half of a huge bin bag!
Undoubtedly what she needed was critical hospital attention.
I recall her referring to our calling upon the Lord through our constant chanting of His name, during her ‘almost passing out phase’, by saying in a voice so soft and almost inaudible, “I know God loves me. He saved me.”
I thought of how Beloved Bhagawan often says, “Whoever you are, you are mine. I will not give you up. Wherever you are you are near me; You cannot go beyond my reach.”
Soothingly I replied to her, ‘Yes, God really loves you. You kept Him busy at 37000 feet in the sky! That is the extent of His love for you and the proof of His Omnipresence.’
The night long anxiety, vigil and care got drenched in the hope brought on by a brilliant day break.
We landed at London Heathrow, even as this beautiful capital city was beginning to be enveloped in the pink – orange hues of dawn.
The waiting paramedics rushed in as we docked at the parking bay and whisked our in-flight ‘patient’ away along with her two children and their belongings.
My Supervisor, going beyond his call of duty, personally called her husband up in New York to inform him, though the airline officials were going to do so too.
Once again I knew Swami’s words – Duty without love is deplorable. Duty with love is desirable. Love without duty is Divine.
The next morning as we checked in at the airport counter we were told that our mid- air patient’s husband had rushed down to be with his wife and children. A happy reunion!
There are countless little and big ways in which Beloved Bhagawan touches our hearts as we journey through each day. Every breath is an experience of Him.
There are numerous such instances of His grace and saving that we are not even aware of.
And He saves even those that are not ‘aware’ of Him.
For He is God…and for God all are His children, whoever and wherever they may be.
This is yet another instance to cherish as our very own experience, the realization of His Omnipresence as a reality!
Samastha Lokaah Sukhino Bhavantu