My Airasia flight from Bangkok to Penang on Saturday was diverted to Hatyai at about 4pm, when it should have arrived in Penang at about 4.35pm. Although the passengers were worried and frustrated as many would have missed their appointments, everyone remained calm. There were several mothers with babies, who were restless, but did not make a scene. (Image from TheSTAR).
There were many moments of ‘suspense’ when it felt as if the pilot was ‘mulling’ over where to land, and the plane felt as if it was suspended in mid-air. Above the thick white clouds, it was really very sunny, although we could see dark clouds below.
I was more afraid if fuel would run out, than the artistic image of the skies below.
At last, we landed and waited with a lot of uncertainties in Hatyai’s empty airport for a good two hours. The airport was previously closed due to Thailand’s, particularly, Bangkok’s political upheavel in recent days.
While it rained and rained in Penang, I wondered if Penang had already been submerged in floods, knowing the infrastructure in the Island does not welcome heavy rain, and often responded badly to it, with some life threatening situations as well.
Anil Netto’s posts: floods submerge part of Penang and why is Penang turning into the Venice of the East – related to that very, very wet Saturday made me realise that my ‘uncertain and grim’ situation in the airplane was not so bad after all, compared to what some residents in Penang went through.
One of them was my poor mama, who was waiting to pick me up at the airport and I could not even inform her of the diversion until the plane landed in Hatyai.
Mum had driven in the thunderstorm to wait to pick me up at the airport. She braved the rain and entered the building after she realised that I did not come out from the arrival hall.
She wanted to find out what was wrong but no one could tell her for sure. Of course the flight schedule screen says “diverted”, but people needed extra information.
“Tak tahu,” was all she got. The truth is, the plane couldn’t land due to ‘very poor visibility’. And if only waiting relatives and friends knew about it, people would be less worried.
[But I suppose, many were left wondering, as I saw their questioning faces, when I finally arrived and walked through the immigration].
When she had no answers, mom left the airport and headed straight for sunset mass in Greenlane, where she prayed and cried a little tear for me. So when I finally called her, she was indeed really, really relieved.
The plane finally touched down on the slippery runaway of Penang International Airport at about 8.30pm or thereabouts. Again mom left our home in the rain to pick me up as there was a long queue for taxis, with exorbitant fees ( I saw many waiting passengers fuming under their breath!).
At 74, this woman still drives steadily, does everything with lightness and speed, and is politically aware as ever. She’s also still very beautiful and stylish. She looks years younger than her age!
I just want her to know that I hope to love her for many, many more years and I wish her as much good health and happiness as she has given me all these years.
No floods, thunderstorms or state of emergencies, could keep me away from this day!
Love you, mama.