At The Airport

Bismillahir Rahmānir Raheem.

At the airport, there are open cafés and sitting areas; people lined up, sitting on horizontal metal poles, since so many of the chairs and benches are already taken up. WH Smith sells sandwiches; magazines; books. Some people have brought with them their Kindles. Others buy books for £9.99 or so. Water. Toiletries from Boots: those mini ones. Somewhat extortionately priced, here at the airport.

Burberry scarves, and bags. Duty-Free Toblerones, and perfumes, and all the rest. You get: one bag, on your back. And another bigger one, perhaps to roll along. Some people do this ‘travel’ thing so often that they seem to have perfected the art of rolling their suitcases along. Dressing for the role: stylish-but-comfortable clothes, coffee flask, neck pillow. Faces that say: “I’m kind of really tired, you know? A little disorientated, but… I’ll get there.”

She posts another picture onto Instagram anyway. In it, she looks energised. Off it, she seems disgruntled as she tries to locate the perfect filter for it.

Everywhere you look, pretty much, there are people. All sorts. Two-year-olds, maybe, talking to their big siblings. Babyccinos. The elderly, and wheelchairs. There is a prayer room; flights being announced, on blinking screens overhead. Plane to Russia; Thailand; China; France. Criss-crossing paths.

Some: returning, with souvenirs and memories in tow. Some: going, with expectations, and goals. To see grandma, or to spend a week or two at the family farm. Airports: the wannabe-philosopher within me yearns to say how they are such… liminal spaces. Between origin and destination.

Human beings conversing, over coffee, maybe. Bleary-eyed, and in waiting. Keeping busy; eating; knowing that they are Elsewhere-bound. Some ‘let loose’ a little; act like this place is sort of less ‘liminal’, less airport, and more ‘home’. “We’ve got ages to go until the plane comes,”

might say the person who is not yet aware of how quickly the time is passing. Under these white lights, and amid all the chatter. Plane to __________ boarding now. And he has to up and leave. Higher and higher, and most of it, he finds, he must leave behind.

With Salaam, Sadia, 2021.

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