Acts of Fear: Flights

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The only flight I have ever enjoyed was one from Enugu to Lagos in late 2019. I did not know when the plane took off, I did not know when it landed, and mid-flight, the pilot had bent it to 45 degrees, the hills we passed suddenly rising like walls, the blue sky flowing like a sea: how beautiful a sight.

Then a month later, on another flight over an actual sea, the Mediterranean, I almost wished I had not boarded the plane. Turbulence struck over the Sahara Desert and trembled us until over Italy. I remember thinking: At least we can fall on land. Who told me that a plane crash over land was better than one into a sea?

And then came the most terrifying one. Over the Atlantic Ocean, late last year, the giant plane shook, like a bird catching cold mid-air, coughing. Strapped to my seat, the usually deceptively calm air hostesses hurrying to theirs, I read the map on the screen. We were in the North Atlantic. I had known since I was a child that this area was the North Atlantic. How poetic. The shaking continued, the pilot making announcements: Turbulence, it will last for 10 minutes. At no time does time become clearest than with thoughts of death close by.

On that plane, I planned. My friend who had my emails login details, which is equivalent to having half of my life. Same friend had my bank account pins. He would know what to do, who to show what. If he would be able to pull himself together, he would do everything almost as I would have done it. The thought of it, that the inanimate rest of my life would go on after me, gave me surprising calm.

Later, I thought of what had happened: I had actually made my peace with whatever could have happened, and, in that moment, that lifted all my fears.

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