Have you watched yourself walking away?
Yesterday I saw myself walking away.
This is how it happened.
I had to drop off my boys at a church youth camp. Since the side-road leading to the camp site was one-way, I dropped them off at the entrance to the side-road. After they got off, as luck would have it, I had to stop awhile for the traffic light to change. I instinctively looked back at the boys walking away. Because of the angle of the road, I could only see my elder son - and that is when it struck me.
I felt a part of me walking away.
No longer a little boy, he was a big young man now. A large bag thrown across his shoulder, he walked purposefully on. Was it the walking style? Or was it the way he slung the bag over his shoulder? Or was it just my mind, playing games? I don't know, but I swear I saw myself walking away yesterday.
As I sat there, my hands grasped the steering wheel tighter as my head bowed down; I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude, more than anything else.
My mind flashed back almost twenty years.
I was inside a plane at the Trivandrum airport, waiting for it to take off. I was seated by the window and I could see the airport building in the distance. I could in fact see the viewing gallery far off. And outlined in the glass window of the viewing gallery, I could faintly make out the crowd of people who had just watched their dear ones board the aircraft and were now patiently waiting for the plane to take off. Those were the days when you had to walk to the plane before boarding it using the makeshift ladder. Anyone standing in the viewing gallery could see and identify their dear ones as they walked down to the aircraft - until they boarded the plane.
But if you were a passenger walking towards the plane, generally when you looked back, you would not see much; you would be fortunate if you could identify someone who had come to see you off and was now looking down from the gallery. It helped that my father was a tall man and as I had looked back before getting on to the plane, I had quite clearly seen his head above the rest of the crowd - I remember seeing him through the second window of the viewing gallery. But once in the plane, it was not easy; I couldn't be sure, but when I looked hard enough at the second window of the viewing gallery far off, I thought I could still make him out. And as I sat there in the plane that afternoon, I remember feeling a lump in my throat; I could feel the tears welling up and I experienced a strange sense of loneliness.
I was rudely awakened from my thoughts by an impatient honk behind me - the traffic light had turned green sometime back.
I wonder if my father, standing in the viewing gallery, had seen a part of him walk away and board the plane that day.
Just as I had seen a part of me walking away yesterday.