Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Memories are not always made of roses....
Prologue: My Parents are no more.
I could neither see the two small girls who were waiting with a bunch of neatly tied wild roses at the exit of the railway station, nor did I see a group of elders waiting along with the girls to receive me…............ instead I was looking at the changes that came in that old railway station since I last visited it, almost 7 years ago to attend Henry's funeral.
I was looking at the neatly painted wood and concrete fence, painted fresh with a cute white and pink on alternate pillars.
The old building that was the parcel container was replaced with a new concrete structure. The old building was donated by my mom and what was left of the building was a board with her name in faded chrome paint still shining in Congo red colour.
My eyes went beyond far end of the railway station, scanning for something so vivid. I saw what I was looking for, the huge old May flower tree still blooming with red and yellow flowers.
I remembered that the tree was older than me and my mom.
I used to play the soldier and robber with those buds of Mayflower with her while waiting for the train to arrive.
She would win easily, giving me a chance to watch her beautiful laughter of victory. She was the one who taught me how to play that game on one of our very few journeys together.
Though our tickets were always booked first class, she would refuse the guard’s request to use the VIP waiting room…instead she would lead me to the crude wooden bench beneath the tree with yellow and red flowers covering the earth all around us.
She was well known around this country, where she was born and brought up.
At those times while she was in her territory, she was a kid mostly, and acted like a wild butterfly.
A few minutes of the news of her arrival would bring a dozen young girls at her door.
She would play with young girls keeping an eye on me and winking wickedly at me.
With my Dad she would always politely refuse travelling by car when he tries to reson with her to use his car and driver, simply because she wanted to enjoy the country. What she would say to my dad was that the roads being bad and the train being safer.
I knew what was her likes and dislikes.
She was not woman at those times. In her country she was a girl fluent in her language, talking to the old grannies as if she is one of them, and also to the cute black skinned children like a bubbling kettle.
Some body touched my hand calling me ‘little master’.
I saw the black guard, who was standing on the platform looking at me at the door blocking the pathway.
I was still "little master" to him.
“There are all waiting for you at the gate Sir. We are about to go…just waiting for you to get down” He added and smiled.
He looked at me intently for a second and then added gravely “My respect to the late master… I always waited for him whenever he came by train”.
“I know Mickey" I answered looking elsewhere as I didnt want to look in to his mellow eyes.
"Thanks for remembering him” I answered to Michael the guard.... visualising in my mind, his surprise and wonderment in his face when he realised that I remember his pet name so well.
That was what my dad called him fondly…Mickey !!
I slowly got down from the first class cabin, as he ordered some one to take my luggage.
I shook my head and showed him my backpack, letting him know that it was my whole luggage.
I also wanted to tell him that I was here on a mission, and what I needed was just a pen, to sign a legal document that would be my last link with the place.
I was aware that I won't see this place again, but I just kept my mouth zipped.
I walked towards the exit gate nearby, waving to Mickey as he was whistling the train to go.
Just before the exit gate I had the urge to turn around, and I did, towards the platform and at the moving train, watching each and every compartment…each one flashing in my mind, gaining speed like a movie, spontaneously giving me glimpses of her and her laughing eyes.
I stood still with my tearful eyes a long minute, looking at the tail end of the train fading away like a big python, while I waited for the moisture in my eyes to subside.
I regained my posture and turned around facing the group and smiled. "Here I am" I said.
I accepted the bunch of flowers from two little black beauties...my late uncle's grandchildren. I looked beyond the group and saw a pair of dark and deep eyes behind the faces looking intently at me.
When it comes to music, I don’t have a language barrier.
I can enjoy music when I am in a happy mood or when it dips to the lowest too… provided that the music suits my mood.
Here is one of my favourite Arabic songs, a sentimental ballad by the famous Lebananee artist Hussein El Jasmi singing “Wallah ma yeshwa”