Once a year, I say goodbye to Achan. Today was the day this year.
Like most other early-morning experiences, when I’m not completely awake, it’s like I see the world through rolled-up paper; tunnel vision – I can’t see the entirety of the world around me, but since I focus on small parts of it, the small bits of the world around me seem so different.
I don’t remember the first time I saw him off. It’s become a ritual, so I remember only the common elements: my car speeding up and down the road at that unearthly hour, the proud sea breeze beating at the car windows, stopping at the Airport Poll to pay parking fees, finding a trolley to carry the luggage in, and then the few moments of uneasy hesitation before a handshake, a fast goodbye to Maji, a brisk walk up the aisle and a goodbye for a year.
Sometimes, Ma lets us go then. At other times she insists on waiting. And it’s this long wait that often gets to me. While she stands at the railing with her shed and unshed tears, I walk up and down the terminal and do everything I can to get away. Today, I started by watching the pretty girls around the ‘port, though that proved to be the wrong kind of distraction. I debated on whether to go and drink a cup of coffee, but since it had been an offer I refused at home, that option was outtatheway.
Today, it was four forty in the morning, and I had nothing to do and nothing to think. Even the sky was clouded-over and starless.