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An Angelic Answer to Prayer

He was the only person she knew in all of Delhi—how did he keep turning up?

An artist's rendering of a Hindi angel

Ma’am, there is no seat for you on the plane,” the check-in clerk at the airport told me. “You must fly standby only.”

“But, here, this is my ticket. I confirmed my seat three days ago.” The clerk only shook her head. “I’m sorry,” she said. “But there is no seat for you on this flight.”

I grabbed my luggage and wandered away from the counter before I burst into tears. I was alone in the domestic airport terminal in Delhi, India. I didn’t have any friends in the city. I didn’t even speak the language. What was I going to do?

I found an empty corner and plopped down on the cement floor. Maybe if I’d gotten here sooner…

I knew timing was everything when it came to overseas travel. I’d flown to India with my son, who was going on a trek in the Himalayas with some other college kids. After seeing him off, I planned to catch a connecting flight to North India to visit a friend.

I woke bright and early to make sure I had enough time to get from my hotel to the airport, and headed down to the lobby to grab myself a quick breakfast.

“Good morning, Ma’am,” a hotel attendant greeted me as I stepped out of the elevator. He was a diminutive man, dressed in a smart white uniform with gold buttons down the front.

“I’m looking for the buffet,” I said.

“But where are you from? What will you do here in my country? There is much for you to see!”

“I just arrived from America. Now I’m flying to North India to meet a friend. I leave for the airport directly after breakfast.”

“Ah, I see….” He went on and on, with every good intention, I was sure. But I fidgeted as we talked. I felt like I was wasting time. Can’t he tell I’m in a hurry?

Finally he led me to the breakfast room. I ate in record time, then ran back to my room to grab my luggage, wheeling it quickly through the lobby to the front door—

“Hello, Ma’am!” There was the hotel attendant again. I groaned. Now I really didn’t have time for small talk. But there was no getting away. After more friendly conversation, he helped me with my luggage and put me into a taxi.

The city was bustling with action. Rickshaws, bikes, cars and buses crowded the road, weaving in and around one another. Masses of people filled the edges of each street, moving in an endless rush.

Storefronts were loaded with merchandise, heaped high in the windows and stacked in sidewalk stalls outside. Colorful signs with peeling paint hung from every building. The air was filled with a cacophony of voices and honking horns.

I could barely focus on one thing before it was out of sight and replaced by something new. It was dizzying to behold, and before I knew it, the taxi was slowing to a stop outside the airport.

I stepped over a puddle and made my way to the terminal. By some miracle, I found the right line to enter the building—security x-rayed everyone’s luggage and allowed only ticketed passengers inside. How long will this take?

At my turn, I gathered my belongings and hurried over to the clerk’s counter at the other end of the building, only to find out that I had no seat.

Sitting on the floor, clutching my luggage, I was at a loss for what to do. The conversations around me were in Hindi. Colors whirled as women in bright saris rushed around to catch their flights. Nothing here was familiar. I felt invisible, a foreign woman praying quietly on the cold floor alone.

“Ma’am, did you get your flight?” I looked up in surprise at the hotel attendant, still dressed in his white suit. How relieved I was to see him!

“I’m on standby,” I said. “There’s no seat for me.”

“Give me your ticket and passport, and I will talk to them,” the man said. I hesitated, but handed both items over. He was the only person I knew in all of Delhi. He strode over to the ticket counter and began talking loudly in Hindi with the clerk.

A few minutes later, he marched back as if I was his one priority. But wasn’t he traveling too? I wondered. “Ma’am, here is your boarding pass. You now have a seat on the plane.”

I took the pass, stammering thank-yous. My plane called for boarding, and I pressed a tip into his hand and went on my way. I’d forgotten to ask if he was traveling, and why in uniform. And if not, how he had been allowed in the terminal without a ticket—as if I was his one priority!

As the plane climbed over the clouds I thought again about timing. It certainly was everything when it came to overseas travel—and to the way an angel in Delhi had escorted me every step of the way.

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