My brother left for India. Boohoo. And if that wasn’t enough, we went to terminal 5 of O’hare international airport to send him off. I don’t know about all the desi folks who live here, but for me, O’Hare terminal 5 feels like almost India.
As you watch fellow desi women, wearing their bright colored salwars (because m-i-l in India does not appreciate western clothes in India), clutching their big sized handbags, pushing along strollers, and followed by harried husbands who are pushing along oversized check-in baggage visibly worried about the weight, and trying to make their carry on baggage seem lighter than it is. Some of them have their bright colored laminated covers from India on their passports. You also see maamas and maamis, sometimes travelling single, looking very anxious about the long journey ahead, and being constantly advised by their sons not to worry about Heathrow airport or Frankfurt airport and to wait for the wheel chair. Grandparents bid tearful farewells as they try to get one more last glimpse of their children and grandchildren and wave to them every time they turn a corner of the serpentine security queue. An African boyfriend plants long kisses on the lips of his chinese girl friend, before he departs to the security queue, and helplessly watches her sob.
Terminal 5 is that last point before you leave for home. Once you’ve crossed that security check, you know you’re probably going to make it home. After a month of incessant India shopping, packing, unpacking and re-packing and weighing, at the few hours we get at the gate of the airport is when we can finally breathe a heavy sigh of relief. It’s our gateway to home in a foreign land. To reach that gateway and not go past it is very disappointing.