|PC: Dall-E, Open AI
Maybe because it was December, her favourite month - with its cool weather, her birthday and Christmas in sequence. Maybe because it was seeing the variety of people streaming out of Dehradun airport - all manner of personalities and styling choices. She would have had an observation on all of them - funny and/or deep. As I waited at the exit gate to receive a senior conservationist for a work conference (someone whom I always look forward to meeting), a wild wish bubbled up unbidden. What if Maa also emerged from the gate? Wouldn't that be awesome? The impossible, the illogical wish should have induced a chuckle in the always rational me. I knew that it was a ridiculous thought.
As the wait grew longer, the wish grew bolder. The more I pushed it away, the more it popped up front-and-centre. My brain was outright refusing to co-operate with reality. With a drying throat, my eyes scanned the gate ever more intensely. Could it be her? Would it be her? Every burst of laughter, every embrace of the travellers and those waiting for them added more detail to the wish. How she would emerge (a slightly harried expression on her face, as long journeys usually made my otherwise high-enthu Maa feel), how she would smile (when scanning the crowd, she would spot me), how she would wave (both arms fully committed to the cause, as she was in every other aspect of life).
Come on. Get a grip. I told myself. It's been so long since she's gone. Don't you remember how you tried - not acknowledging her limited time, insisting that her comeback was just around the corner - in the fierce belief that not talking about it would keep her here forever? Don't you remember the searing failure of that 'plan'? Don't you remember all the details of your rushed journey home? Don't you remember the nightmarish wait outside the ICU, not allowed into that cold world of expertise, knowing that inside she was slipping away? Physically I was at the airport, but inside my little boat of logic battled huge swells of emotion. It tried, it fought, it lost.