"Passengers your attention please ...."
The flight had landed and the wait was getting more anxious. The announcements, cab drivers waiting for their turn, the coffee vendor, the busy morning newspaper stand, the air crew and the cleaners wiping the floor, the sounds of the cars moving. The airport receiving area was a bustle of activities. He was seeing his mother after a long time.
"Time please ..." the person standing next to him asked.
"6:55" he said quickly looking at his watch
"Would the long haul flight have been comfortable... did she sleep off in the flight... how will she manage the luggage..." such questions pestered Kannan's mind.
He quickly sipped the last few drops of coffee with the left over wet sticky sugar in it giving it a shockingly sweet taste and rushed towards the gate where the passengers had started getting out. He saw his amma coming out of the gates. Her eyes were searching for her son among the crowd impatiently waiting for their loved ones.
"... Did she see me ... oh how could she miss me..." He thought to himself.
He saw the smile on her face and understood that she has seen her son. He rushed through the crowd and took her trolley and gave her a quick smile and asked.
"So how was the flight ... everything fine"
She looked at the grey hairs, the tired looks, times indelible marks on her sons face... he has gone thin than before... is he alright... does he have food properly on time ...she thought to herself and quickly replied.
"Oh yes... it was very comfortable... you came alone"
"Appa wanted to be at home and your Badhra is busy preparing breakfast for you ... your favourite appam and stew" he said smiling
The images of him as a kid flashed through her mind quickly. The bright eyes, big ears, black thick hair, the dirt on his shirt when he comes home after playing... it was an array of images that flashed in her .... was it heart or the mind...she never knew. She wanted to ruffle his hair as she used to do when he was a kid. He has grown up and would not be liking if I treat him like a kid. I should hold myself strong... She decided.
The morning wind was cool and the pulled down windows of the car let in the moist wet aroma of the sand drenched in the previous night’s rain. The soothing wind relaxing after being inside the airtight aircraft for over 6 hours. Amma was tired and was trying to keep herself awake...
"We are buying a farm in Tamil Nadu... its good, and the talks are on... we got a good price... they were asking for 90 but settled in 75 ..." He went on and on ...
She did not know when she dozed off into a light sleep and all that she could remember was the wall behind her kitchen at home. She saw herself stand there and talk to Geetha.
"Yesterday I went to Kannan's painting exhibition... it was nice... he paints so much, he does well. Vijayan sir said he has a bright future... he sings too... but I want to get him trained in violin... he is smart"
Geetha was listening to her smiling... which was usual to her. Every tea time, the gathering place was the green mold spread small wall which separated the two houses. Ramu and shamu were small and they would be seated on the wall while they talked to each other every other day. They used to share their small happiness and sorrows over a cup of tea by the wall.
"I was there too ... he is good" said Geetha
They went on and on sipping the tea about their children.
"Here comes the star" said Geetha when she saw 9 year old Kannan run towards them.
Amma abruptly stopped the talk and looked towards him and said:
"You only know to play and make fights. See how dirty your clothes are... how can you be so irresponsible... see Ramu and Shamu .. They are so well groomed... learn something from them"
Her harsh words, slowed the small artist down. Kannan smiled at Geetha Chechi and waved at Ramu and Shamu and walked into the house through the kitchen door, head held low.
"Kids will get spoilt if we appreciate them or in front of them" Amma said softly to Geetha.
She went inside to find her son tired after all the playing and fights with his cousins.
"What happened ... are you all right" she asked Kannan
"Amma ..." he said softly "Can I lie on your lap for sometime ..." he asked her.
Amma was woken up by the screech of breaks. She woke up to see appa standing there smiling at the door.
"Back to square one" she said.."I am back to my routine"
The opening of the baggage and the talk and food all took away a good amount of time. After the lunch Kannan walked towards amma and asked her.
"Is everything alright at akkas place"
She went silent and after a short while she said "She is fine".
The silence spoke a thousand words to the mother and son. Appa had gone to sleep and Badhra had stepped out for her meetings scheduled for the afternoon.
"Amma ..." he called out softly "can I lie down for sometime on your lap"
She saw the same 9 year old Kannan again before her. Head held low. Tired after his 31 years of life from then. Amma smiled and hid the tears that were about to slip down through the corner of her eyes. The silence was peace for them ... the air condition broke the silence but was just not heard anymore. Years of tiredness and time seemed to melt away on the mother’s lap when the old hands ruffled his hair.