Kiara was jolted awake from her deep slumber. The flight’s landing gear deployed and hit the tarmac. It was a lucid dream in India that had made her pack her bags and leave to Berlin, and now she was here, looking out the window. A surge of adrenaline shot through her – her heartbeat quickened and she thought of the umpteen ways of heading back. The plane was taxiing on the winding wishy-washy road – the rain slapping against the window. The city’s mid-September weather seemed sad to her.
Grey skies at 10:30 am.
She smiled as she got down the stairs of the flight, but the smile quickly turned into a strained frown as a howling gale nearly pushed her off it. She pulled the hood of her parka on to her head, thrust her thumbs through the underside of her backpack’s shoulder straps, held her bag tight, and ran into the airport. The rain’s pitter-patter on her parka felt as if birds were flapping their wings and dancing on asbestos – the sound of it echoing and drilling into her ears.
She despised loud noises and rain.
‘Wilkommen in Berlin’ read the board as she stepped into the airport.
Everyone around her smelled like wet dogs, or was it the humidity inside? Kiara didn’t know. She reached the baggage belt and stood there, registering people’s faces, their voices, key jingles, zips fastening and opening, announcements in German, some children wailing, others sleeping peacefully in their prams. A baby was playing with a teether that jingled, and a woman carried a beige handbag weathered by age.
She probably carried it everywhere, thought Kiara.
Kiara had a booking at an AirBnb in Mitte. She would have to figure out what she wants to do after 14 days. Start working in a cafe or at the front desk of an office, greet people, take down names, smile and be nice. Shouldn’t be too difficult. Would her lucid dream guide her towards something now? Something new? She was clueless. If she spoke about this to anyone they would either dismiss her or stare at her in absolute bewilderment.
She looked at the conveyor belt. Still. Empty. It was swarmed by anxious people, most of them foreign faces. Some of them had camera bags slung over their shoulders.
Kiara did not have an affinity for crowds either, but she had no choice now. The conveyor belt had started moving. She spotted her lime green suitcases from a distance. Her bags were royally seated on the snaking belt like princesses on a palanquin. She got through the crowd and saw that the belt was empty but for her two rather large suitcases, now awkwardly alone, awaiting their pick up. Kiara’s athletic build made it easy for her to lift heavy objects.
Even though she was mired in confusion about her time in Berlin, she squealed in joy and made a quick dash to the exit. The lashing rains made it unbearable for her to see what was going on outside. Torn between hailing a cab and staying put inside the airport, Kiara froze.
The year was 2018 and a Neo-Nazi march was in full swing.
She knew this meant danger for her passport.