As we get our passports stamped, hunt for our luggage and stroll down the escalators leading to what has always been the best part of the journey, I try as I’ve always tried, to hold back my tears, and not fail my promise to myself to stay strong.
As my brother and I approach the arrival hall I see my father’s silhouette towering the crowd. My heart skips a beat, and my tears slowly build up in my eyes. I keep up with my brother’s jokes hoping to stay calm. My father sees us. He holds my youngest brother and pushes him gently below the fence separating the arriving passengers and their impatient relatives and friends. My six year old brother, Mohamed runs towards us. I automatically bend down and stretch my arms and he runs into me, burying himself into my chest and locking his arms around my shoulders. We stay there for a while, until my brother carried Mohamed and sat him on the luggage.
When I reached my father, just as I did every time I reached him in the past five years, I ran to him, and buried myself into his chest. I closed my eyes firmly hoping to pull back the accumulated teardrops. But they were set lose. And my voice broke. I wept.
The world stopped. Time and place suddenly disappeared. And I am there forever. My father said a joke about my crying. A joke I never really hear. Only at that moment, I know that I can never feel more protected. At that moment my mind detaches from all its worries. My heart forgets what it has always feared. At that moment, I can feel the warmth of the world reaching me. Gently lighting my soul, bringing me back to life.
Five years later, I still cried when I heard my mother’s voice on the phone, when I hugged her as I arrived home. Five years later, I take the journey I have always taken, I fly on the same flight, through the same route, at the same timing of the year. Only this time, I know that I am not leaving, at least not at a specified date. This time, it is entirely my choice.