Bird’s Eye View
There is an ease to levitating in a pressurised metal container a couple of thousand feet above the ground, in experiencing movement only as a spectator. I like snacking on panoramas but usually steer clear of other snacks being sold in budget airlines. There's nothing budget about the hefty stratosphere tax they come with.
Are we above France? Or Switzerland? I look out to see the Alps – untouched and sublime, jutting out like some exoskeleton of the crust. Do they know its noon from how the sunlight fondles their pointy tips?
I peak and squint just to make sure there are no signs of civilisation in between the cunning crevasses.
No streaks of asphalt. Check.
No Swedish enclaves filled with old-growth timber looted from Romanian mountains.
Mental note: must stop buying furniture at IKEA. Also, focus on the picture I chose instead.
We're losing altitude. I know because I can see a few cars, the outline of a road. The humans with a penchant for naming and claiming places have found ways to foster here. In geometric patterns close to a waterbody, that's how it always is.
Berlin reveals itself beneath the haze stirred up by grey clouds. Not the Berlin you think of. Not the clubs masquerading as abandoned buildings.
The slanted rooftops of the buildings are so glum it's hard to believe the sun ever shines on them. They tell the tale of winter's slow approach. From this height, the trees appear nothing more than dense foliage. Foliage that knows where not to grow. Foliage that has been told where not to grow.
"German trees are so organised and efficient!"
I point at the window and wait for my friend to laugh. He complies.
I can't wait to be clasped up by the streets of the city again. Enough of this spectator sport.
I do a lot of things that would've been previously unimaginable to me. Honey things, sticky things, dumb and dumber things. Things like fitting my life in a suitcase whose dimensions are permissible by airline standards and escape. Leave and try to start anew on another continent.
I try to calm the loose strands of charged hairs buzzing around my face. Ten hours is a long time to be sitting in an unbudgeable seat, but we should be landing soon. I tighten my seatbelt hoping it would dissolve the blobs of nervous excitement in my stomach.
Throughout the journey I couldn't be bothered to look out the window at the arid, deserted landscape and endless melange of clouds. But the city looms closer and with it all the fantasies and promises. I involuntarily peer out. Perhaps a little too much and a little too excitedly.
It is overcast but I could not be bothered by sun's tardiness. The trees spread out uninterrupted as far as I can see. Lush, thick, inviting. Waiting for a curious explorer to caress their trunks, they bear witness to all the things people do when they think no one is watching.
Who lives in these buildings? The tabs in my brain pull up generic pictures of white families eating cereal on their breakfast table, together. Maybe they're assembling the furniture they got from IKEA, together. Or deciding which pictures need to be framed, together. Little scenes that make up performance of a shared existence. Hopefully, they know how lucky they are to share life with their loved ones.
I must put on mascara before I exit, I remind myself. I check my pocket to make sure if the piece of gum is still tucked in there. Kisses and flight breath are not a good combination.
This journey could be the start of something new. Looking out at the defiant houses claiming their carved-out spaces between the tress, I begin to question my decision. New doesn't necessarily mean good. New always entails a series of you're missing such-and-such-form, you'll have to get another appointment-for-that. But administrative problems are welcome. Anything to bide the time, to occupy my mind. Memories, the most insignificant ones, lurk in nooks and corners of this god-forsaken place.
Waffles for dinner. The silly fights about messy rooms and unhealthy sleep cycles.
The sockets of my eyes are burning from staring, trying to focus on the trees. On the white object in the distance. My eyelids are heavier than the grey clouds, about to burst. Is that a car? Looks like one of those Hot Wheels toys.
Can this plane move any faster? I can't stand the sight of this city.
How do you destroy something that is already dying?
But I'll try, I am feeling flippant today. From this height, with everything looking like a bunch of badly stacked Legos, anyway.
Shall I play a puppet master? Or that dude god, the one with a capital G – don't act like you don't know him. Yes, the overly attached and demanding one.
I could also play human. I've had some practice.
First, I'd like to use my "blow stuff up" card. The houses. People scurry out – choking, coughing, spewing blood on the ground. Let's not worry about the ones who died. We're still above Germany, the Feuerwehr was probably on its way even before I activated my card.
My mom used to tell me, don't touch the plants at night, they're sleeping. But who likes listening to their mom's advice? So second, I'll use my "felling trees" card.
I don't really like this game. Think I am just going to wait for the good old sea-level rise, water wars, global warming to take effect.
Sahid Kamru is former university Lecturer, writer, presenter and Columnist. At present, he is a research fellow at Freie University Berlin, Germany.