So where you headin’… I rub my legs down from the crampness of sitting for twelve hours straight. Looking up to stare into the eyes of the tear streaked, snot covered kid sitting next to me, I wiggle my eyebrows , only to get the response of one of his snot bubbles located directly under his nose to pop. The poor child is then vigorously wiped down with one eau de toilette towellete provided by the ever kind pissed flight attendants. I witness a transformation as the child is redressed in more civil clothing, his mother biting off the crisp tags. Whimpering’s escape the child only to be silenced with a smart smack. I yawn and pat my head, trying to calm my curls only to have them spring as if taunting me. Rolling my eyes, I place my forehead against the window pane, fogging the glass (or is it plastic?). Below me firefly’s dance as the ground sweeps below. As the imminent nearing of the lighted darkness surges before me, a repressed anxiety begins to build inside my chest. Seven years. I let it ring in the hollowness of my mind… seven years. I breath another fog onto the window, trying to listen to the muffled captain and his apparent relief at almost landing. Pushing away from the sight I stare yet again at the limited space, and question the plastic folded tray; who will be waiting for me, will they recognize me, will they see me, did they even remember I was coming, will they like me… hell, do I like me? I tighten my hold on the armrests as my stomach senses the descending of the aircraft into oblivion.
Escape. What took so damn long to open the hatch? I itched to leave the forsaken plane, feeling the beginning of open contempt as disgruntled passengers recognized the faces of the innocent looking infants that kept most awake during the whole flight. Finally we began to move, only to have one mother (as always) screeching at her husband to unload the zillionth item from the overhead compartment. She stood defiantly in the middle of the aisle, a sight. Her hair that was done with care and affection now hung miserably loose. Her makeup which she applied reverently now looked caked and blotchy. And her eyes which were filled with merriment when stepping into the plane now stared out with emptiness and fatigue. Her pack of children huddled and clutched to her chiffon toub, as if wanting us to feel the burn of motherhood. Thinking surely not the time nor the place dear lady, I move sideways along the middle row of seats and glide down the second aisle towards the exit with boundless glee.
One step is all it took. The ever kind pissed flight attendant gave me a hurried farewell which fell to deaf ears because inside… inside I was wreaking havoc, feeling my pulse thrumming, echoing with seven years, seven years, ya’Allah atlast… my God atlast! One gust of hot wind reminded me of the now… and I smirk thinking, so this is the caress of Joy?
They hadn’t forgotten. I settle more comfortably as we speed out of the airport. The tinted window hindered my view, so I press the down button, letting the stifling A.C. out and the breeze of early morning in. We pass vendors that haven’t been opened yet, their owners lounging in the soft glow of dawn, drinking their shai and cup of calm for the upcoming day. Little did they know that they brought such comfort to my eyes, my beautiful countrymen. I let my hand out the window, letting the wind tease my fingers as I feel it’s gentle pull. And then I hear, the ever sweet, the one sourly missed voice that has been denied to me in the States, the Azan. I could only close my eyes and think to myself, so this is the sound of Joy?
Dragging one foot after the other, I could hardly breath. Will they remember me, will they like me, dear God… I pause at the entrance to the living room and find sleepy faces swivel my way and stare. I swallow, and give a weak smile. Feeling awkward, not knowing what to do with myself, my entrance begins to feel like a nightmare. A frail looking woman stands, dressed in a wrinkled toub that was put on in haste, comes to stand before me. Again I swallow… I cant.. I..ya Rab… Embraced within my grandmothers strong arms, I choke. Squeezing my eyes I inhale, and feel her arms tighten as she murmurs and breathes in me tranquility. Tell me, how do you speak love, how can you vocally express the momentum, the rush I was feeling within this remarkable woman’s arms? I could only think to myself as I breath in her wrinkled toub, so this is the smell of Joy?
I let my eyes hungrily sip in the vision before me. My aunts, cousins, uncles, and grandmother sitting in their pajamas laughing at a silly joke my clown of a cousin makes. I could still feel the pressure of the countless kisses rained upon me, awed by that simple gesture. Take this, cherish it, store it, this is it. I stand and excuse myself asking one cousin to take me to the restroom. Making sure the door is locked with a tug, I turn around and stare. This pressure will not stop building within my chest, it is bubbling it’s way up my throat as I clap my hand over my mouth. Falling in a heap in the middle of the tiled floor, my eyes become blurred with unshed tears. And then… I bawl.
Hardly being able to move after the gallons of tears spent, I begin hiccuping and laughing. I laugh till my stomach hurts, which only brings on a fresh batch of tears. Here I was, filled with this intense anxious energy, folding within itself with confusion and impatience, lacking virtue. And now what am I filled with? I’m spilling over the brim with this untainted, priceless load of bliss. So where you headin’… I’m headin’ home… I am home.