An Air India plane, a Boeing 747, took off from Montreal on 23 June 1985, carrying 329 people aboard, including the crew. It was bound for Delhi via London.
At Palam Airport, Delhi, large numbers of people were waiting, as usual, to receive their relatives and friends. Some of the passengers were coming back home after working hard at their studies or their business. There were some girls and boys who were coming to India to get married. Still others were to visit their homeland after a long interval to meet their near and dear ones.
Their happiness, however, suddenly turned into deep grief. While flying above the Atlantic, the plane met with an accident and plunged into the ocean off the coast of Ireland. When the list of the dead was put up on the board, the people waiting for them rushed towards it. At this moment, a reporter of the Hindustan Times (24 June 1985) captured the scene in these words: “In their moment of stunned disbelief, each thought ‘this could not be happening to me.’ But with merciless equality the death list shattered all their hopes.”
Leaving aside such major tragedies, it is a fact of life that every day, a number of people pass away from this world in the ordinary course of events. This fact on its own should be enough to shake people up, but it does not, for the simple reason that everyone who watches others disappear thinks that this fate is only destined for others, and not for him or her. This is a strange but observable fact of human psychology. By excluding himself, he fails to learn a valuable lesson. He fails to hear the message of death even when it is close at hand.