30 Things That Crossed My Mind When I Thought I Was Going To Die In A Plane Crash

Ruchi Kumar
4 min readAug 11, 2017


On my way back to Kabul, I was all ready to jump back into work and journalise! I was, in fact, making mental notes on the plane back of things that I had to do, emails that needed replying and stories that needed telling. It was a great day for a flight, despite the monsoons. Clear skies, the sun shining bright — the perfect smooth sailing weather; that was until we hit some turbulence. Having travelled plenty of times before [flying is my favourite mode of transport], I knew this routine — strap yourself, lock your knees together, and just wait the bumps out. The little Afghans kids on my flight didn’t even seem to mind the bumps and continued running around. After all, we all know about the air pockets that cause these bumps, don’t we?

However, almost a minute into the turbulence, it didn’t seem to end. The plane suddenly lost a lot of altitude and fell vertically down a few hundred feet (?). We heard sounds of the engine turing off, at least one of them. We looked around and realised this was more than just a regular turbulence. We saw a look of strained, almost forced calm on the face of our young flight attendant. The “wobbly-ness” got more intense. The plane suddenly took a sharp tilt downward; we were in a nose dive. After he had rushed the kids to their seats and asked them to strap in; and then, on the pilots command, the flight attendant went to his seat, across from me [I was sitting near the emergency door], and strapped himself in, continuing to smile all this while. I felt a little bad of him; it seemed like his first international flight and here it looked like we might die. That’s when it struck me:

  1. Oh my god, we are going to die!
  2. Oh no, this can’t be happening. I can’t die right now.
  3. Oh please god, please god, please god, don’t let me die right now [I think I said this out loud]
  4. Did I just pray? LOL!
  5. Oh well, if we are talking, please god, be rational about this; how can I die now?
  6. My parents will be heartbroken; this is so unfair to them to lose a child now
  7. Oh no, I didn’t even speak to Shono properly this week. I can’t leave her now. God, please let me meet her again. I love her so much.
  8. I hope they all know I love them. I wish I could tell them that.
  9. Oh damn, I just got my periods!
  10. Thank god, I’m not alone at least.
  11. Aw, what a loss, all these people dying.
  12. Why is this guy asking the attendant all these questions? [At this point, one of other passengers was asking our young flight attendant to explain why we were going down and that guy was trying his best to be chill, but was freaking out inside]
  13. So many questions. Please don’t ask him questions! [I said this out loud too; cause he answered, “I want to know!!”]
  14. Oh well, we are dying, might as well know why.
  15. What the f*ck! Didn’t all those people who read my palm tell me I have a long life line (with lots of money).
  16. I haven’t seen any of that money yet. Or travelled. Or owned a home. Damn inflation, what 30-year-old doesn’t have a house of their own!
  17. Aw, how can I die; I am only 30. I haven’t done anything yet.
  18. What was last story I wrote?
  19. Oh wait, the last story published [after I die] will be the one about the Afghan female pilot.
  20. LOL, what irony; my last story after I die in a plane crash is about a pilot.
  21. Oh wow, this is going down fast. I wonder if there is anyway I can prevent dying and just get injured a little.
  22. Say a prayer or something?
  23. Does being by the emergency door have any real benefits of higher chances of survival?
  24. Thank god I always pay attention to safety instructions.
  25. Should I brace myself? Should I pull out the yellow jackets?
  26. Why haven’t the oxygen thingys come down yet?
  27. Damn, we are flying over mountains; this will be a terrible crash.
  28. What if we do survive, but crash land into a Taliban territory?
  29. At least, if I die now, I won’t have to go through period cramps..
  30. No! No! I can’t die yet.. I’ll take the cramps..Please! Please! Please! Please! God, I can’t die; I’m not done yet.

Around this moment sometime, it felt like the plane was under control and steady. This whole ordeal lasted less than three minutes, but it was the longest few minutes of my life. We landed a few minutes later and couldn’t be more glad to touch ground. I couldn’t believe what I had just been through and survived that. For moments, I was sure we were as good as dead and in that moment, my only regret was that I hadn’t told everyone that I love how much I loved them.



Ruchi Kumar

Writer. Journalist. Humanist. Based in #Afghanistan. Words @ForeignPolicy @Guardian @AJEnglish @WashingtonPost @Vice Earlier: Web producer @dna @TimesofIndia