“Aage bhi jaane naa tu, peechhe bhi jaane naa tu
Jo bhi hai, bas yahi ik pal hai
…Jeenevaale soch le, yahi waqt hai kar le poori aarzoo” – Sahir Ludhianvi
[You know not what lies ahead, you do not know that which is behind you
If anything, this is the singular moment
… Think O living being, this is the only time (you have) to fulfill (your) desire]
It was a couple of weeks ago that we exchanged emails and spoke with friends as they were preparing to leave for their biennial vacation in India. There was palpable excitement, just thinking of meeting up with family, of the intimate conversations with loved ones, special dishes that would be savored, shopping for books and music and oh so, so many more wonderful memories to be created in India for carrying back to Canada. We are looking forward to it, they said, and would have stayed longer but our son could only take two weeks off his work. Time – that precious commodity and everything was being planned to make the best use of it.
We chatted about the concept of “back home”. She said, “in a strange way that home is a nostalgic memory, which often comes up hard against the current reality, and I return, grateful for being ‘back home’ when we land at Pearson”. This time the landing was anything but gentle.
Their return flight in transit from India to Canada had just touched down at the tarmac when explosions rocked the airport in Brussels. Our friends deplaned and amid chaos ran for their lives together with hordes of other confused, cold and frightened, screaming passengers before being herded into a large cold hangar. After three days of uncertainty, no luggage, personal effects or even a change of clothes they had to wait in suspense before being transported to Amsterdam and finally landing “back home”. What went through each person’s mind? What helped each person manage his/her thoughts? Does one stop to help up another fallen stranger to her feet or does survival instinct kick in and self-preservation makes one ignore all else? It is difficult to even begin to imagine how they and others coped.
They – and we – are fortunate and thankful for the way things turned out. There would be time later to talk and get things off one’s chest, but for now bliss is just a hot shower, change of fresh clothes and the secure comfort of one’s own bed.
Mr. A. Einstein pointed out empirically the relativity of time and space. I guess this holds true emotionally as well. To a person waiting in a cold hangar without food and few basic amenities each hour would feel much longer. To families waiting outside the airport for news of their traveling relatives, each minute would stretch interminably into an hour and weigh heavy. On the other hand a person trying to run for his life might experience everything happening in a flash.
We are affected more when things happen “close to home”. In the global village we now live in, where is “home”? Is it Mumbai, Paris, Brussels, Nairobi, Yemen, Cairo, Kabul, Toronto or New York?
Home is where the heart is. And we are just thrilled that our friends are back home.