He was as usual running. Having checked-in over the phone, he had bare minutes to board the flight. The ever smiling stewardess guided him towards his seat. For the umpteenth time he wondered, whether she actually hid murderous intentions behind that sweet smile. He was always late.
He settled in the luxury of his business class fare and watched from the hole which formed his window, as he left the world behind in favour of the skies. He was forever leaving something behind in favour of something else. He had traded his college cigarettes for a more expensive brand of slim lights, beers had been replaced with single malts, bikes had grown a pair of new wheels and had been renamed cars… Some called it staying in step with life, yet others called it moving on, but he could not help but feel as if he was leaving something behind.
That feeling, of having forgotten something had haunted him almost every single day for the past quarter of this century. Yet, nothing had been out of place. Work would progress as usual, he would even return home to a normal life. But the confused frown had become a natural feature gracing his worn face.
He often wondered if this was precisely why, he did not experience the so-called ‘work satisfaction’. He worked almost on auto-pilot. At work, he just could not feel happy, never got that sense of fulfillment, yet spent hours of broad daylight and the better half after sunset locked up in his office.
He had always walked back home, with the guilt riding his shoulders that he ought to have given more at work. At work more promise, meant fatter pay cheques. What did a promise at home mean?
A commitment which said, I will if I can. It had never been, I undoubtedly will. They were family and family understands. And his family had understood better than most. They had understood so well, that he had ceased to notice them. Notice that they were not just another existing necessity which completed the picture of his life.
He had left behind family for work.
“Daddy?” her voice not sounding like the five-year-old voice he remembered. The question in her voice asking if he would be there for her, seeking answers in the timbre of his voice. This voice was different, it was more authoritative. It didn’t seek the comfort of his voice, it was seeking answers in words.
“Hmmm?” His answer had failed to change in years.
“I am moving on, starting a new life, leaving the old one behind. I need you to be around when I am saying good-bye. Don’t be late this time” her voice almost pleading.
Don’t be late.
Life had passed him by. He could recollect none of it. His wife had perhaps stacked memories in an old photo album. But he never had the time.
He was going to be late.
To say good-bye.
He could remember his daughter as the toddler who ran into his arms when he reached home. He didn’t seem to remember the woman his daughter had grown into. He was too busy to notice her growing up.
Again that feeling, that he was leaving something behind