I live near the airport and so my life is punctuated by the roar of jet planes either taking off or landing. At times, when my mind is not preoccupied, the sound brings to me mixed feelings of happiness and sorrow. I think some loved ones of unknown fellow beings are arriving and some are leaving. I empathize with those unknown millions who stand at airports, railway stations and bus stops either in the pleasant anticipation of a member of family or close friend arriving or the concealed sorrow of watching them go. I have been through this roller coaster of emotions myself through my life so far.

I remember the time when my father was alive. He and my mother would visit us almost twice annually. The familiar roar of landing jet engines would bring them to us. I recall the thrill and anticipation with which we waited at the airport, longing to catch the first glimpse of them. Then would come the day of their departure and again a roar of jet engines would take them away from us. The same roller coaster of joy and sorrow happened when we visited them.

The year was 1989. We were at the Patna airport. I was a lot younger and inexperienced then. I could feel but could not articulate my feelings well. I watched with sadness and awe as a roar of jet engine took my brother to America. My father walked away from the family. I understood that he needed space and so I approached him after sometime. For the first time in my life I saw tears in his eyes. I had always looked up to him as a very emotionally tough, practical and broad minded man. A man who had worked hard all his life and had brought us up with love and care. A man who had given us a sound value system in life. I had seen him through the thick and thin of life but never had I seen him in tears.

The year was 2006. My daughter joined an engineering college. After the admission procedures were over we bought her the necessary supplies, left her at her hostel and returned. I was playing the tough unemotional dad to give support to my family members who looked at me with sadness writ large on their faces. I played my practical unemotional dad role well. Then one morning I went to arrange things in her study room. It was then that it struck me that she had left for good and now she would have another place called “home” too. She would be visiting us always with a return ticket in the remaining days of our lives. I sat there trying to control my emotions. My son, who was little at that time, there being an eight year gap between the siblings, entered the room. He looked at my face and quietly sat in my lap. No words were spoken. He had come to comfort me.

My brother manages to come once a year from America and the same roller coaster of pleasant anticipation of his arrivals and the sadness of departures continues.

The good news is that he is coming with bhabhi in three days time and we wait for the pleasant times together this Durga Puja. A pleasant roar of jet engines will bring them to us and another unpleasant roar will take them away.

This is life. The joys of arrivals and sorrows of departures of loved ones till life sustains…