Until I saw the last bit of them, of him,
I looked out-
Waving, searching, recognizing, connecting-
Across the winding lines of people,
The barricades, and the short, tiled expanse of the airport,
Until I saw no more.
Left alone, with my constant hum of thoughts and my baggage,
Left alone in a crowd of a dozen people
Also similarly lost in their lonely states,
My mind flew back, back to a small square study room,
With cold white ceramic tiles, pencils and sketchbooks spread across the floor
And me, trying to whip up something special- it was his fiftieth.
With a picture in hand, I slowly studied
As my amateur hands copied them onto a sketchbook
Each etch, each line, striking in its impact-
Every wrong one turning him into someone else,
Every right one confirming an image I held in my head for so long.
I traced out his face- the round, brilliant head
Extending into the cheeks broadened by age and a young chin that was spared,
And the valleys that descended into the bridge of his nose and the sockets of his eyes-
Soft eyes, like those of a puppy,
Brimming with the innocence and charm that made him easily win hearts,
Soft eyes with a glare that could sear a hole in your forehead when provoked,
Down the bridge of his nose,
The small, petite one of my grandfather,
With nostrils that gave away a hidden reaction- anger, sorrow, disgust.
Down the jaw that was once sharp and strong
And tightened every now and then when incensed.
But there were also the teeth
Big, beautiful teeth that framed his mouth every time he laughed,
Twinkle in his eye, eyebrows raised, ears perked up,
A glimpse of the young boy who felled mangoes,
The young man who read novels at the back of his college classroom,
Free, uninhibited, a rebellious character of his own kind.
And now, as I looked back one last time,
I saw him standing,
Pain held back with a calm, proud smile,
I could only look away,
With the deciphered image of my father as mine to keep.
Picture courtesy: Sebastian Del Grosso