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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

12th july 2013

Airports, railway stations, bus stands.... they all fascinate me. I can spend hours there, all by myself, just watching the people pass by. i like watching the hustle bustle, the activity. i love observing the people... some in a tearing hurry, some idling the hours away,. i love observing t he people.. the self assured ones with their confident swagger. the nervous one, checking and rechecking their baggage, their tickets..,, i love listening to the sing song lilt of the announcements. i love the rush at the stores - folks meticulously checking out the merchandise, looking for that perfect gift for their loved one. i love catching the expressions on their faces while they are on the fone . i try and imagine the life they are going away from or are returning to. i try and conjure images of the kind of peope they are and the kind of life they lead..i build their stories in my mind.

my home, by virtue of being close to the airports and not very far from the major railway terminuses, serves as transit accomodation to a lot of family, and their friends . for the longest time, one of us , me or the spouse , would be regulars at the airport or railway station, either receiving or seeing off a guest.

i do not like seeing people off. especially if it is somebody frm the immediate family. parents, spouse or the kids. i hate bidding goodbyes. at the airport, i follow them with my eyes, a transfixed gaze, as they walk further away from me. my arms raised to wave out so that they catch my sight from amongst the crowds. and as they negotiate that last turning and look behind to wave a goodbye, i want to rush in , pluck them out, hold them close and say, "bass, chal wapas ghar chaltey hain".

i was at the airport tonite, to see off the son. he is away on a short trip. just 10 days.

just 10 days... this was how i convinced myself when he asked us if he could make the trip. his enthusiasm was infectious. plus the fact that he is the kind of a person who usually doesn't easily ask for something for himself. he will have weighed it in his mind a hundred times before. again, , he makes it a point to assure us that it is perfectly alright if we refuse. that we don;t have to give in just because he has asked .

like most families, ours is a nuclear family set up. vacation time meant the 4 of us vacationing together. they havent experienced the madness and the fun when hordes of cousins got together during the holidays. they really havent spent much time away from us.

i wondered if i had been wise to permit him to go for this trip - 3 days at a Linux Coder's Conference and then a 5 day sight seeing trip. he is an adult at 19 years. but for me he is still a child. mine.

as the date of his departure had approached, i had felt my heart flutter wildly, palpitaitons at times, panic stricken at others. had voiced my fear to the spouse, seeking validation each time... have we done the right thing? he will be all by himself !

i hoped n prayed that he would be careful with his travel documents... that he would wake up with the alarm, tired as he would be while being responsible for himself.

he stays away for his education. i have made my peace with that. but then i have family around there. he has his teachers and class mates around.

these 10 days he will be in unfamiliar surroundings, with not a known soul around him.

i am scared.

i didnt want to reflect any worry , doubt or fear on my face. i didnt want to pass it on to anybody in the house. the spouse and friends assured me that all would be well. but i have been restless.

today we went to see him off. today i found the airport a gloomy place to be. perfectly reflecting my state of mind. young sons, holding on to their mothers, passing on some of their strength to her, to hold on till they came back next. the mothers smiling lop sided smiles of trying to bid a cheerful ggodbye while trying to reign in the upheavel in their hearts. as if their smiling countenance would lighten some of the burden their child is already carrying on his shoulders.

i had gone to see him off. i was blank. no palpitaitons. no panic. a calm. i saw him fumble as he opned his back pack to remove his passport n ticket at the entrance to teh terminal. he had forgotteb to zip his bag back. i could not hold myself and hopped in next to him , zipped the bag in place for him. he said his goodbye. we told him we are in teh waitung room.

within minnutes he called to say he had checked in. i was angry. why o why did it haev to be so fast? he came near the waiting hold, a sheet of glass separating us. he waved a good bye. i picked up the intercom and told him we would wait till he finished his immmigration. that would take a load of our hearts - the paper work being in place.

it was nearly an hour later that he called that he was now proceeding for the security check . i asked to call once again after he boarded the craft. he agreed.

we now had to leave the airport. the goodbye moment... it had now arrived. not when he entered the terminal, not when he had checked in, not while he was waiting fr the immigration clearance. but now.

a long walk to the car, even that was comforting. it gave me more time to hang around at the airport. i understood i was being ridiculous. but yet...

he called to say that he had boarded. i quickly fired a final set of instucitons -" wear yr jacket ". etc etc and paassed on the fone to the spouse. the tears popped out of my eyes.

within minutes the fone rang again. it was the boy once more. the husband answered the fone.. and soon he was laughing out loud.

why?? a neighbour and his wife were on the same flight.

the husband spoke to them...."ab shrimatiji aaj raat chaiin se so sakti hai. aap jo uske bete ka khyaal rakh rahe ho !"

and funnily enough , i really relaxed completely. they were with him. it was comforting. so wot if it was just for one leg of the journey.. i could now put away my worries for one more night.

tomorrow is another day.

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