By Pooja Moitra:
You get into the plane, thinking it would be a short journey to your destination. An hour later, you are entirely relaxed in the aircraft, the best services at your disposal. But what happens when such a journey becomes a nightmare not only for you but for your family, friends and even for your country and the world at large?
The Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, a Boeing 777; a class in its own league has, it seems, a similar story to tell. On 8th March, 2014, this commercial plane carrying 239 passengers including 12 crew members was on its way to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur, when after one hour into the flight it simply vanished. No distress signals were given, no military radar picked up its location and certainly no debris found. Now, more than a week after its disappearance, no concrete evidence has been found which would lead us to the missing plane. Scary, won’t you say? It certainly gives me goosebumps! From the first day itself, people were having a field day discussing the possible reasons for the disappearance. While some said that it was hijacked by terrorists and taken to a remote island, others were thinking on more plausible lines of a plane crash, whereas the rest talked about the amazing theory concerning aliens and their plans to take the plane and do some experiment over it. All sorts of creepy theories! But the scariest aspects remain untouched. And for me, these concern the families of the passengers, the national security of various countries over whose airspace the plane flew, the people in general and the fear of unknown.
Air travel has become a common means of transportation now a days, and with each passing year, more aircrafts are being designed that guarantee safety in a way that was never possible before. Also, in this age of hyper connectivity, communication has become more important than ever before. Thus the question here is not that a Boeing 777 went missing, the question here is that how can it vanish right in front of people, despite the plethora of modern technologies available at their service. But the more we get to talk about its disappearance the more confusing and heart wrenching it gets. Within a week of its disappearance the authorities were able to establish that the communication systems were switched off deliberately by those in the cockpit and they were strongly leaning towards the theory that this whole vanishing act was well planned in advanced by someone who was in that plane.
The investigators were quoted saying that the jet had a squeaky clean record and was one of the safest in its class, but this incident surely has planted a seed of fear in the regular as well as the first time air travellers. This fear concerns not only the fear of losing their families but also of putting their lives in the hands of complete strangers who have a power to alter their future. You would wonder, what is new about this whole incident. Since 1948, more than 80 aircrafts went missing in various parts of the world, some were even found crashed almost 50 years after their disappearance and some were not found at all. But what makes this case interesting and scary is that it went missing in an age and time when the whole world has become a global village and all the members of the planet are connected to each other in some way or the other. The fear of losing your family and not seeing them ever again combined with the fear of the unknown, conquers every sane thought in a person’s mind. The passenger’s families on the other hand are afraid of the unknown knowledge of what happened to their loved ones. Of how things unfolded, what happened, who did it and most importantly what became of their family members, friends or colleagues? The notion of not finding a closure to this chapter in their lives is as comforting a thought as it is deadly.
Now let’s talk about authorities of the country. The Malaysian government has a responsibility towards people of not only its own country but also towards people of other nations and of course it is accountable to its own national security. Again in this 21st century modern day, if an aircraft goes missing like that imagine the consequences it has over the prospects of that country. Not only will it wreck the company’s reputation but it will also give other nations in the world a reason to not trust the Malaysian Government, especially airlines; which then can be inferred as an international scandal.
Finally, people today have this notion in their minds that they are so technologically advanced that that losing contact with their loved ones seems like an idea which belongs to another world altogether. Thus, when a missing plane results in almost taking their loved ones away from them, it naturally gives way to apprehension which will be present now whenever someone travels by air. I know that this sentiment will always haunt me now.
Fear, panic, trepidation, are synonyms of a feeling which is alien to us at the same time a familiar as well. It can’t be controlled, it can only be pushed away. Till date, no concrete evidence has come to the surface regarding this case which will point us to the right direction and reunite people with their loved ones. But as I conclude my article, I can’t help but say a little silent prayer for all those people in the plane and wish that they are safe and sound wherever they maybe.