Airports, Rain, Tomatoes, Flowers
A student takes a final look at her bare dorm room with a satisfied sigh. She steps out into the sunlight, lugging two large suitcases behind her, and bathes in its warmth until her taxi arrives. Throughout the trip to the airport, she engages in easy conversation with the driver, relishing her first face-to-face interaction with a stranger in a long time. She waits patiently to board her flight. With an unopened book on her lap, she simply watches and listens to the bustling crowd.
A mother paces impatiently among a sea of people at the gate marked ‘Arrivals’. Her eyes fill with tears when they land on her daughter’s face, weary with travel but with an expression of bottled excitement just like her own. They take hurried steps and engulf each other in a ferocious embrace. The trolley of luggage drifts, forgotten, along with ages of worry and longing for the security that being together would have brought. Keeping their arms glued around each other, they walk to the nearest airport cafe to share a cup of steaming filter coffee. The mother looks up at the sky and laughs. “It looks like rain,” she says.
In rural South India, a farmer looks at the gathering grey clouds as he sends his gratitude to the Gods above. His wife comes outside and hands him a basket. He follows her through a freshly sown field of paddy to a plot of crops. Together, they begin gathering tomatoes. Children playing in the neighbouring field see the old couple at work and run to join them, making a game of the task- the one who picks the fewest tomatoes has to be the denner in the next game! Soon enough, they load their harvests into the farmer’s old truck. He waits at the wheel as his wife hands out apples to the children. It’s starting to drizzle. He sends another prayer to the Gods as she gets into the truck, and they drive to the market in the neighbouring city, looking forward to their first real stream of income in a long time.
A man strolls through the market, greeting people he recognises. He stops to buy tomatoes. His mind trails off as he waits for his purchase to be weighed, and he thinks morosely of Monday. He dreads returning to his dreary job and guiltily misses the opportunity to stay home all the time. From the corner of his eye, he catches a glimpse of a woman at the neighbouring flower stall inspecting a string of jasmines. He says her name. His heart swells when she turns to look at him with a smile. They talk and talk, his eyes never leaving hers. He drinks in everything about her, already excited about the next time they will run into each other. He swings his bag of vegetables as he strolls home, dread forgotten. He’s glad to be able to leave the house again.
A woman places a jasmine garland, fresh from the market, around the photograph of a wise-looking man. People trickle into the house one by one. The tone is hushed and respectful, but conversation flows unbridled. The grief she has contained for so long is softened by the chance to honour her late grandfather with a proper wake. Stories are exchanged, and memories of the beloved man enrich the air with unforgotten love.
There was pain and isolation, but not without love and strength. Now, households nurture closer bonds. Sons call their mothers more often. Embraces are tighter and greetings are livelier. Errands are completed with fewer grumbles. Goodbyes are said with more heart. Smiles are wide and no longer hidden by masks. Beauty is not completely lost. In some ways, it’s more obvious than before.