My Story: "I Was Hesitant To Fly At First, But Thought Of 263 Stranded Indians Made Me Agree"

When Swati Raval was asked to pilot a flight in order to rescue stranded passengers from India, she could only think about the safety of her children. Returning from the flight, she couldn't hug her children as she has to maintain social distancing norms at home.

Delhi   |   30 Aug 2020 11:18 AM GMT
Writer : Humans Of Bombay | Creatives : Abhishek M
My Story: I Was Hesitant To Fly At First, But Thought Of 263 Stranded Indians Made Me Agree

Image Credit: Humans Of Bombay

When Swati Raval was asked to pilot a flight in order to rescue stranded passengers from India, she could only think about the safety of her children. Returning from the flight, she couldn't hug her children as she has to maintain social distancing norms at home. Even though this made her sad, she went ahead to fulfil her line of duty amid the pandemic.

"On March 20th, I got a call from my team saying that I had to pilot a flight from Delhi to Rome the next day–it was a rescue flight to get 263 Indian passengers trapped in Rome back to Delhi.

I had 5 seconds to answer him, and all I could think about was my 5-year-old son and 18-month-old daughter. The memory of my daughter falling sick a few months before, while I was flying, made me hesitant. But the thought of those 263 Indians desperately waiting to go back home to their families made me agree. So I gathered courage and said, 'Yes, I will pilot this flight'. I left the next day, kissing my kids goodbye. When my crew and I boarded the flight, I realised that it was the eeriest evening of my life–there were no passengers on the flight; just 8 hours of silence.

But after the passengers in Rome boarded the flight, the vibe instantly changed. For a brief moment, it felt like the pandemic never existed. After landing, the passengers cheered for us before leaving the plane. A passenger even said, 'I never thought a flight home would mean so much'. I felt his excitement to be with his family; After all, I was heading back to mine.

After what felt like a rescue mission, I headed home. But returning to my family after that flight was different. When my son ran to hug me as I entered, I had to stop him and tell him, 'Mumma can't hug you'. When my baby girl saw me, she had a huge smile on her face as she waddled her way to me–but my husband had to pick her up and take her away. She screamed and cried–it broke my heart.

I had to isolate for 14 days before I could meet both my kids. In those 14 days, my daughter couldn't stay away from me. Any chance she got, she tried sneaking into my room. It became a game, where I'd run and she'd try to catch me. It was the best way to explain the situation to my baby.

But after isolating, when I finally got to hold my kids, I felt what those passengers must have felt–an ache to be close to loved ones. And if it means that we can bring families together, I'm ready to pilot as many flights as it takes to bring my fellow Indians home, safe and sound."

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"On March 20th, I got a call from my team saying that I had to pilot a flight from Delhi to Rome the next day–it was a rescue flight to get 263 Indian passengers trapped in Rome back to Delhi. I had 5 seconds to answer him, and all I could think about was my 5 year old son and 18 month old daughter. The memory of my daughter falling sick a few months before, while I was flying, made me hesitant. But the thought of those 263 Indians desperately waiting to go back home to their families made me agree. So I gathered courage and said, 'Yes, I will pilot this flight'. I left the next day, kissing my kids goodbye. When my crew and I boarded the flight, I realised that it was the eeriest evening of my life–there were no passengers on the flight; just 8 hours of silence. But after the passengers in Rome boarded the flight, the vibe instantly changed. For a brief moment, it felt like the pandemic never existed. After landing, the passengers cheered for us before leaving the plane. A passenger even said, 'I never thought a flight home would mean so much'. I felt his excitement to be with his family; After all, I was heading back to mine. After what felt like a rescue mission, I headed home. But returning to my family after that flight was different. When my son ran to hug me as I entered, I had to stop him and tell him, 'Mumma can't hug you'. When my baby girl saw me, she had a huge smile on her face as she waddled her way to me–but my husband had to pick her up and take her away. She screamed and cried–it broke my heart. I had to isolate for 14 days before I could meet both my kids. In those 14 days, my daughter couldn't stay away from me. Any chance she got, she tried sneaking into my room. It became a game, where I'd run and she'd try to catch me. It was the best way to explain the situation to my baby. But after isolating, when I finally got to hold my kids, I felt what those passengers must have felt–an ache to be close to loved ones. And if it means that we can bring families together, I'm ready to pilot as many flights as it takes to bring my fellow Indians home, safe and sound."

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Humans Of Bombay

Humans Of Bombay

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Abhishek M

Abhishek M

Creative Producer

" An engineer by profession, Abhishek is the creative producer of the team, graphic designing is his passion and travelling his get away. In more ways than one, he makes the content visually appealing."

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