Airports, railway stations and sometimes even bus stands are places where human emotions come to life. I have always liked to just sit in these places and watch people dwelling in their many emotions.
I have had this affliction from the time I was a child and travelled in the slow steam engine that crawled into the station. I used to enjoy watching people trying to get in and out of the train in a hurry.
From that time, I have noticed that people always stay much after their loved ones have got into the train; they wait patiently for the train to move. They know in their hearts that the ones on the train are not going to get off. Yet they wait.
They share last-minute niceties and then the inevitable happens; the train starts moving. Those on the platform start waving till the train disappears from the station.
Departures don’t go very well with humans. Farewells are the hardest part. In a train station or in an airport lounge, farewells mean separation; separation from loved ones — man from wife, parents from children, friends, siblings … the list goes on. The most difficult part is letting go of a person in the unknown zone of time.
I don’t like to see people off. It is the one moment when I feel lonely and it leaves a void in my heart. Every time, I say ‘bye’, I wonder for a fleeting second if life would endow me with a chance to meet the person again.
I am certain that it is better to receive people instead — be it at bus stops, airports or railway stations. It gives the heart a strange sense of joy that is almost mixed with fear and yet, it is a beautiful feeling.
Love finds a way
The earnestness with which the heart awaits the arrival of the beloved gives one a feeling of being cared for. Even in a crowded place like a bus station, love finds a way to post itself in the heart.
I can recall innumerable occasions when I have experienced this feeling in these. What fascinates me most is the airport. I like the fact that we wait anxiously in those long halls looking forward to catching the first glimpse of a loved one.
Receiving halls rarely have luxurious cafeterias. Maybe because people can’t get themselves to sit down for a relaxing cuppa. Instead, their eyes and thoughts are busy, racing through and scanning the crowds. People are busy and on their toes — quite literally.
As they crane their necks, it is always a bet to know if their eyes have missed the guest or not. And lo! The first glimpse of the person, pushing the trolley is that moment of complete joy.
Lovers, parents, children — they all meet with the true exhibition of human feelings painted lavishly on their faces. My grandma was perhaps the only kind of person who refused to receive people at these places — they come home anyway, she reasoned. Yet, there are scores of us, who like to watch the entire gamut of emotion — anticipation, anxiety and then, that moment of reunion — come to life.
This makes me wonder. What if the wooden bench in the railway station or the steel chair in the airport were to have a mind and a heart to think and feel? What stories would they tell us? They would have seated the bravest and weakest of us.
Witnessing life go by, they may have many interesting stories of reunion and separation. They would also have the finest catalogue of human emotions neatly archived and stored in memory. Now, if only, I could read it!