It is the first time I am experiencing waiting at the airport looking longingly at the escalators, at every face descending, trying to find a familiar face. Arrivals are always happy and this one was extremely extremely special. My son, let me say that again, my son was coming home after three months, first time since I left a piece of my heart miles away that August morning. It is the first time he has been away from home for 3 months. It is the first time he tried figuring out life on his own. It is the first time Kevin and I spent three months without him. It is the first time I was a mother waiting for my kid to come back home to me. There will be many more such occasions and that realization hit me as I stood there in anticipation. For a moment I was scared will I fail to recognize him? I laughed at myself. After what seemed like an eon, I saw that face, the smile. I pulled out my phone to capture the moment, he was telling something to an elderly lady next to him. Later he told me, she said, “she is filming you” and he responded, “yeah I haven’t been home in 3 months”. As he got off the escalator, I fell into his arms and cried. He let me cry. I was crying for all the losses while he was away. I was crying that I survived. I cried that my world was all right again.
As I waited there I remembered a rainy evening in KSRTC bus stand 27 years ago. As the red bus reached the bus depot and was turning to find its parking, I saw a familiar face, looking into each window of the bus, trying to find a familiar face, hoping, praying that her daughter made it safely to her arms. I was 17, I think, it was my debut solo bus trip from my mother’s home town to Bangalore. Earlier that morning, her brother had bought me the ticket, seated me on the bus and called my mother to tell her, that a piece of her heart was on her own in a public bus, making the 9 hour road trip. I remember the joy on my mother’s face when she saw me and asked me as soon as I got down, are you ok? I naive me thought “what could go wrong”.
As a piece of my heart made his debut solo flight, I asked “are you ok?”. He probably thought the same thing, what could go wrong.
Life has a funny way of coming full circle. I know this is the beginning of separation, like what my mother experienced, many moons ago. There will be many many more situations where him and his brother are away and I will wait at the bottom of the escalator searching for familiar faces. The duration of separation probably longer. As I said, it’s the first time I am experiencing this, so for now, let me savor this hug, just a little longer.. until it’s time for my baby bird to flap his wings and fly out again.