A plane’s disappearance and the loss of a loved one
How does one deal with the loss of a loved one when there is no knowledge of the what, how and why? Three years after the Malaysian Airlines flight MH 370 disappeared, we are still left with these questions.
As K.S. Narendran—whose wife Chandrika Sharma was one of the 239 passengers on board that flight—asks in Life After MH 370: Who saw what that night when MH370 flew?
Narendran’s descriptions of life before March 8, 2014, show how central his wife was to their daily routine. And then comes the shocking news.
In fact when he is informed of the plane’s disappearance by his wife’s colleague, his first reaction is to ask for a copy of the ticket. “It occurred to me that I had no information or record of Chandrika’s flight details except that it was to be a long, circuitous journey.”
In the subsequent pages, he takes the reader through the shock of finding her gone, the endless days of waiting for news, the non-responsive governments, dealing with the media and of learning to cope at a personal level.
Initially, he cannot quite believe that, in this day and age, a plane could just disappear without anyone’s knowledge.
As hope recedes, he struggles to reconcile his acceptance of her loss with others who were hoping for a miracle.
He writes of a holiday with his daughter to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Ironically they fly Malaysian Airlines. “With twisted logic that barely disguised my terror, we took the day time flight to KL rather than the late night, arguing that it was better to fly when awake and know where we were headed as opposed to maybe flying in the dark of night on a journey to nowhere known.” These sections about coping and healing are poignant and not easy to read.
The chapters on the investigation—or as much as was known to him—and the reaction of the other victims’ families make for interesting reading.
Attempts to band together and demand answers (two groups called Voice 370 and Reward 370 were begun) ran into a gamut of issues: logistics of time zones; connectivity issues; the kind of political climate the person lived in; and even cultural issues.
Narendran’s writing is understated even when it is about deep anguish and pain. He is forthright in talking about the problems with Reward 370 and other initiatives to find out what happened. Three years and counting, he asks: are we to continue living in a bubble created by a conspiracy of silence where we are presumed to be safe in the skies till a plane drops from the sky or drops out of sight forever? As yet, there is no answer.