Monday, 16 May 2011


The day has a hole in it and it leaks seconds that grow into minutes and minutes that turn hours and hours that become the day. Some days pass swift as a swallow flying over; others drag and crawl disobediently towards the liberating strike of midnight, announcing the changing of the guard. She flips a page of the book but already forgot what she read on the previous one. Her eyes glance left and right but her heart beats up and down. The bright departure hall casts dark shadows over her troubled thoughts. A tear slides down from under her sunglasses. She feels lonelier in this crowd of a thousand people than if she were to be alone right now. But being alone is not an option. Grief is a dreadful dish at a family dinner: it’s shared among others without anyone saying or pretending anything first, but the food itself must be bitten, chewed, swallowed and spit out again all by oneself.

The boarding announcement will be made any time soon. In a few hours, she will step into the house that harbours her forgotten and remembered childhood memories. That place was the beginning of all her beginnings, and will forever be that place, also now. When we go home, we don’t go to a house but we actually go to the place where our parents live. They are the invisible mortar that holds the bricks of the walls together under the roof called “home”, and for as long as they live in that house, we keep calling it “home”, even long after we moved out ourselves.

She is on the way home. And home is a long way. Less than 12 hours have lapsed since her sister called her with the news that her mom had passed away. Whatever happened since then has fled from her memory, as if she were a myopic without glasses dashing into nowhere, or a drunk who forgot what happened the night before. The power to choose the timing for the unexpected is one of life’s unfair cruelties. No one is ever totally prepared to deal with the acceptance of our own mortality. Against all odds, we nourish hope and cling to the illusion that we can at least control time, albeit not postpone the inevitable for ever.

A rainbow-coloured ball hits her shoe. She looks up into the giggling face of a blonde-haired toddler. He’s unarmed in his playfulness, but no weapon is more powerful than pure innocence and goodness. She can’t help but smile back at him. He wiggles a few steps, bends forward as if he’s almost going to fall, and then picks up the ball. He walks back, turns around and then throws the ball mischievously back in the direction of her feet. Never mind he misses the target. He warbles infectiously. She picks his colourful toy from the floor and rolls it back to him. The boy thanks her with his enthusiasm when he jumps up from joy without getting his feet off from the carpet even. She nods understandingly at the lady behind him, which she assumes must be his mom. The woman cheers encouragingly at him. And then - of course - there is no more stopping him. The scene is repeated, and she plays her part benevolently. She teases him, by holding the ball longer in her hands before giving it back to him. She makes him laugh, by pretending he hurt her leg by hitting her. She makes him cry almost, when she hides the ball behind her back and makes him think she lost it. For a few minutes, just like the little boy, she forgets where she is and what brought her there. And they exchange a thousand words without speaking a single one.

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