It is five in the morning. Frigid and chilly, typically not how October dawns in Chennai are

supposed to be.

I'm perched at the smallest corner of the airport, downing my fifth cup of chamomile tea.

Departures and arrivals are no longer what they used to be. No last goodbyes, no first hellos.

There's nobody sitting on the rails desperately waiting to see the hint of a face. Kids aren't

scurrying around tugging at their parents' arms. No last-minute checklists to tick off with the

siblings. No promises being made about yearly visits to somber grandparents. No forehead

kisses, no fleeting hugs. No heart-tugging moments captured in photographs and ear-marked in

journals to be discovered later and replicated to the t - a flickering Casablanca of the transcendental reality. The whole atrium is empty, save for the security personnel, and a couple of old vendors selling flavored tea.


From: Paris

Status: Arrived

The yellow ticker on the flight information board starts blinking at me with a knowing finality. I bend over to untie the laces of my trainers and tie them back again, if only to give my fingers - that have suddenly metamorphosed into a ball of nerves - time to breathe. To hide the pink in my cheeks.

I tug at the sleeves of my hoodie to cover my shaking hands. I stretch my mask atop the bridge of my nose, so that every time I reflexively hold my breath - when my eyes spot a shadow that even faintly resembles yours - it doesn't seem too evident to the passersby around. The minutes have ticked away into hours when - at long last - I look up at an empty arrival foyer.

"Maybe, he strode past when I was crouched down." "Maybe, I should try and scout around?"

Somebody bumps into my shoulder as I trot amuck in the parking lot.

"Je suis desole."

It is funny how language ceases to be a barrier the minute your brain recognizes a voice.

My heart stills in a way it hasn’t, in three years.

I turn.

The12-mile rib-breaking jog was worth my while after all.