Never say “Goodbye”
It was ten minutes past nine, however, the populace outside Shahjalal International Airport showed no signs of lateness of the night. The moon was abnormally large and bathed the earth in its luminous glow. The huge crowd at the entrance was a mundane scene though, although not for the lack of diversity in its members.
My eyes caught the stream of people at the corner coming to say goodbye to a man in his twenties. His arms were wrapped tightly around that of a silver-haired woman. The dim lights outside the airport reflected in the tears that were pooled in her eyes. Her sagging skin showed signs of old age - but everything else appeared trivial to the fear that was evident in her eyes.
In the brief moments that I spent outside the airport gate, I watched her say short prayers for the young man who was possibly her son. The man however was quite unruffled by her actions. He continued attending his calls and smiled at the group of people who accompanied him. Occasionally, he wiped the sweat that dotted his brow.
More than half the men there were around his age, clad in worn out suits that marked the lack of sophistication, eyes that betrayed both excitement and fear, embarking on a journey to countries such as Qatar, UAE, and Saudi Arabia to earn their livelihood.
I strolled inside, past a few security checks. A few minutes later, a mechanical voice rung out loud over the speakers: "Flight JK6785T to London will be delayed for two hours due to…"
I heaved a sign of impatience and sat with the boarding pass in my hand.
Two hours. Two hours in addition to the six months I have waited to meet my daughter, Aria! Coincidentally or not, I found a girl who looked quite like her near the airport gate. Long hair braided to one side; a nose pin that glittered even from a distance. She was encircled by friends that were both laughing and crying.
A few feet away, a middle-aged couple had their eyes fixed on their daughter and the group that surrounded her. She was too deeply occupied with spending her last minutes mustering the courage to say goodbye. She had a smile plastered across her face but her eyes portrayed a wave of sadness that she tried too hard to hide.
Goodbye. The syllables echoed throughout the airport. One can have a well-rehearsed speech prepared although it never really eases the difficulty of delivering it. At that very moment, it seems that oxygen has seeped out of the room and you are left alone, gasping in your own little airless bubble of atmosphere, and forced to say aloud that one word that you do not want to. Goodbye!
My thoughts were interrupted by the sound of laughter from a young couple that sat closely. The girl had a long streak of vermilion across the center of her forehead; red and white wedding bangles adorned both her hands and her smile reflected pure joy. She bathed in excitement and an undefined bliss, enwrapped in his protective arms while he spoke about their honeymoon destination, Goa. I could not help but smile at the sight of young love. It is beautiful.It is beautiful.
Aria was ten when she wanted to be a pilot. Deeply mesmerised by the remote controlled aeroplane that she received from her father on her tenth birthday, she wanted to fly one on her own.
Over the years, her dreams changed. While she struggles in her second year in medical school, I still reminisce about her face every time I see a pilot.
From where I sat I could see a large group of flight crew. Small luggage in tow, walking out of the airport engaged in light conversation with each other. The lifestyle they chose always appeared outlandish to me.
Of course, to be able to travel around the globe was tempting but I could not imagine being condemned to such a nomadic life. But that was just the insight of a forty-five year old single mother. I looked at the wrist watch again. It displayed fifty minutes past ten. My wait was almost over.
By Mayesha Raidah