It’s November 7th. I had left my house the previous night at 8PM, taking a flight to Mumbai and then an eight-hour long flight to London the next day at 11AM. I had spent some of the time on the flight sleeping and some reading. My mind had been restless, I was nervous, yet I felt something I hadn’t felt in a while: Anticipated Joy.
Heathrow Airport is a mad throng, as usual. The lines at immigration are horrifically long, but it moves fast. I switch on my phone and scroll through the messages on What’s App. “Ignore all my previous messages. Don’t take the Tube. It will be too mafan. I will come to Terminal 4. Be there in front of Costa Coffee,” I read. I read the message and shake my head. This can’t be happening. I keep ready all the papers that I think Immigration might ask. Return flight ticket. My trip itinerary. My hotel bookings. My address in London. Even my business card. But the woman at the counter doesn’t ask for any of those. She barely glances at me before stamping me through. I walk through the maze of people, all of who seem to know where they are going. I reach the baggage carousel and find my backpack already making its dreary rounds.
I move out through the “Green Channel,” in Customs after withdrawing cash at the ATM. And just like that, I am outside. I find Costa Coffee easily enough. I stand there near the table, waiting. In a daze. A man sits down at the table behind me. I move a little, thinking I am blocking him. “That’s ok,” he says, wolfing down a sandwich. I smile at him. “Why don’t you sit?” he asks. I demur, my eyes still anxiously scanning the entrance where the train arrives at the terminal. But the man is persistent. He plies me with questions, which I can barely answer, struggling as I am to understand his accent. I finally give in and sit down opposite to him. He is from Lebanon and is waiting to pick up his friends who have to meet someone else who is ill. “They don’t know how ill he is,” he says. “Who are you waiting for?” he asks. “A friend,” I say. “Where is he coming from?” he asks again. “Dublin.” “Oh! That’s very far!” “Well, not as far as India,” I laugh. He seems to assume I am meeting a boyfriend. I try to correct him and then I wonder why does it even matter. Then, the inevitable question about whether I am married or single. “Are YOU married?” I ask, evading it. He laughs, looks away. “What? It’s a simple question,” I say. “Well, my wife thinks I am married, you know.”
I laugh at that. But I can’t concentrate on this conversation. I glance at my phone again. I am suddenly struck by how unreal this is. I am feeling jet-lagged, my body already demanding its sleep. I wished the man would leave so that I can be with my thoughts. Perhaps, the Universe hears my call, because he gets a call and bids me goodbye. I sigh in relief. I sit at his table, still. I look at my phone again. I wait. Minutes go by. I don’t remember if I was reading a book or looking at FB, but all of a sudden I glance up, and there it is. The best day of my life has arrived.
I glance at my friend. We look at each other, disbelief on each other’s face that this moment is happening. Months of pain flutter away. Months of silence. Months of misunderstandings. Just this moment where you realize that the beauty of life lies not in abandonment, but in abandon. That friendship is a fragile mess sometimes, a mess that only we make. But that it doesn’t matter if it is messy. It doesn’t matter because the mess is beautiful and glorious. What matters is that we choose to make each other matter. Again. That we choose to pick up the pieces of a shattered vase because we matter and carefully glue it back together. How can any other day this year be more beautiful than this?