The air hostess led the two children to their seats and after ensuring the seat belts were in place, went off to assist other passengers. As the doors of the plane shut, Sana’s heart sank and her eyes started to water. She turned to hold her brother’s hand knowing that the feeling of loneliness and despair was also coursing through his blood. It was the end of another summer vacation; a vacation spent with their beloved grandparents in London. This moment in time also signaled the start of another long and interminable wait till the next vacations neared and the exercise of crossing dates off the calendar began. To make his sister feel better, Raza magnanimously allowed Sana to take the coveted window seat. The plane was noisy and teeming with people searching for their seats and trying to find place for their hand luggage in the over head compartments. Eventually a lull settled in the cabin as people buckled up their belts and the plane picked up speed while taxiing. In a flash, the child in Sana resurfaced and she stuck her nose to the cold window waiting for the aircraft to lift and carry her back home to Karachi, her home, her friends, and most importantly, her father.
Sana and her brother Raza were the products of a deep love marriage between their parents which took off in the right direction, but somewhere along the way the fabric of life began to unwind when their mother’s illness was diagnosed: leaving in its wake two children bound by nature to their parents, but torn physically apart from the womb which had nurtured them and endured the pain of procreation. Their father, Riaz had moved back to Karachi after the death of his wife taking the two children with him. The separation from their beloved grandparents after the demise of their mother was naturally painful as it signified another snip in their close family, but all vacations were spent in London where the children would feel the presence of their mother in the arms of their grandparents.
The journey was interminable with the bouts of boredom only broken by the food and drinks which excited the children. Sana struggled in vain to watch a movie on the small television monitor placed at the back of the front seat, with air phones which were bulky and kept slipping off her small and childlike ears. Raza, on the other hand, kept his nose in his Hardy Boys book which had temporarily transported him into a world of mystery and simple crime. His deep sense of responsibility made him look up occasionally to check on Sana and her fidgety self to ensure that she was okay. After a tiring flight over parts of Europe and Asia, the plane began to descend towards a much awaited landing as the children were tired out by the cramped seats and the weight of their drained emotions.
With impatience, which is characteristic of spirited children, the brother and sister duo headed towards the exit doors to be greeted by a blast of hot air, a cacophony of loud sounds, and a smell which is distinctively local. “Welcome to Karachi” screamed the billboard as the children ran down the shaky staircase, eager to get away from their confined home of the last eight hours. The queues at the baggage claim were endless and porters were jostling the tired passengers to earn a few rupees. Raza signaled a reed thin, dark skinned man who ran eagerly towards them with his creaking trolley, while Sana shouted with joy upon seeing the familiar red suitcase on the moving carousel and urged the porter to lift it and place it on the trolley. It was a sight to behold as the two young children with tired faces and crumpled clothes, the dark skinned porter, and the red suitcase moved towards the arrival area. The children eagerly scanned the sea of people looking for a familiar face. After a few long, anxious minutes, Sana spotted her father and sprinted towards him. Her beloved Baba smiled broadly and bent down to take his daughter in his arms after an absence of a long month, whispering gently in her ear, “Welcome home, my dear”.