I hear my father- or is it my brother’s? calling me, saying my name, standing before me. I jerk out of my sleep. I am lying on an airport bench in Iceland. Summer is over. I am with my two children. We are going back to Halifax.
Twenty years or so ago, the people that I loved and matter the most to me were others than those who wander now in my emotional landscape. I think of my youngest uncle, my mother’s youngest brother, who was possibly my favourite person in the world, when I was eighteen or so. He was a frequent visitor to our home, my parents and my siblings too adored him, and we would watch films, play card games, and talk talk talk for ever and ever.
Years and years passed. He changed, enough to write a novel about. Two divorces, a death, hashish, religion. By the time the Golden Boy was born, we were not even on speaking terms, though we had never even quarrelled. Three years ago, when we were summering in Iran, he dropped in my parents’ place for an hour or so. The Golden Boy adored him on first sight, and they played furiously together. I was amazed by my own indifference towards him. Upon leaving, he promised the Golden Boy he would visit soon again, and he never did, of course.
There have been others too, colleagues whom I spent ten hours a day with, forging what felt like an unbreakable emotional bond out of intense working conditions. We gazed at each others’ faces and when it was time to say goodbye, my heart was breaking. We promised each other visits, calls, contacts, which barely materialized. Some days I think about these people, and some days I do not. Some nights, I dream about them. ‘
There were people in my life, whom I thought my happiness and that of my children depended on us being together. Our separation troubled me every single second. The Gentle Reader may be familiar with my mournful, shocked tirades after my brother left Halifax. Now I realise what I had known all along, with the same fluidity that people leave your city, they can leave your heart and mind. I have grown older now, and now I realise my happiness does not depend on anybody. I stare at the pretty faces of my children. Now, my happiness is in their grasp. But ten years, twenty years from now? Who knows, who cares? The flow of people through my soul, the shaking, shifting patterns of the kaleidoscope of my love. Now it falls thus.