The Epilogue of Flight 714
Arjun Rajendran

Rastapopulous, for all his bonda nose, wasn’t clairvoyant. Or he’d have
seen it coming, the silvery bindi hovering above the island
in Flight 714, the portal it opened just outside Coimbatore, flattening
acres of coconut trees in an incident reminiscent of Tunguska.
This was when my father and uncles had long abandoned roaming in
komanams or stuffing oversized scorpions into SHIP matchboxes, when

a rabies vaccine meant 32 or 16 or 43 injections around the bellybutton
and a stretch of tragicomic delirium; his Tamil was better than mine,
father confessed, referring to the weirdo who dialed the saucer by dropping
one anna into ESP’s booth. The irony of all this being Hergé, who never dabbled
in love stories as much as in racist portrayals of Congolese, couldn’t possibly

know one of his creations would lift itself outside his draftsmanship and fall
for that household icon of post-independent India, the Nirma girl—and before
we use the P word it’d be wise to remember this was sometime in 1969, when
child marriage was still in vogue—so find a clear night, far away
from city-lights so you can copycat a matinee idol by tracing a finger along
the stars shining around the jingle subtly metamorphosing you into soap.


Illustration The Adventures of Tin Tin – Flight 714 by Hergé / ArtCurial

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Arjun Rajendran
Arjun Rajendran has recently appeared at Berfrois, Eclectica, The Sunflower Collective and The Bombay Literary Magazine. He has poems upcoming in Elsewhere Lit and Vayavya.