Saturday, April 17, 2010

HUGS ARE FOR FREE

Maya threw her cellphone down on the floor in a mix of rage & frustration. Here she was at the Delhi airport, waiting patiently for her flight for the past three hours and now the airlines announce that her already two-hour-delayed-flight has been delayed further! On top of that, right at that instant her cellphone just refused to show any network. Great, she thought, just great! Just what I need!

Maya had a three-year old son, Krish, waiting for her back home. She was longing to get back home to him & had arrived at the airport, upbeat about the journey, 'coz she knew, just a few hours more, & she would be home, holding Krish in her arms. But as soon as she arrived at the airport, she heard that her flight had been delayed by two hours. That meant getting to see Krish, two hours later than she had hoped. And now just as her two-hour long wait was about to end, came the announcement of her flight being delayed further! Maya felt her insides knotting up in emotion. She fought back her tears.

A working mother, Maya had always had to travel leaving Krish behind at home, because of her work. But whenever she went out of town, it had never been for more than two weeks. But this time, it had been different. Maya had been away on an assignment for two months. Two months away from Krish. It was torture to her. She missed him so much. Though she spoke to him over the phone more than once, every single day, yet she missed him. Because after all, speaking over the phone is very different from holding your child in your arms, hugging & kissing him, watching him play around you. Maya felt as if she missed a part of her herself, for the two months that she was away from Krish.

She was dying to talk to Krish at that moment, but her phone simply refused to co-operate & show network. She tried the phone booths inside the airport, only to be greeted by large, OUT OF ORDER signs, outside the booths! Maya took out the photo of Krish that she carried around with her, in her purse. "Mamma, is gonna be home soon, beta. Mamma is gonna be home soon", she said to Krish who was smiling up at her from the photograph. Choked with emotion, she couldn't control her tears anymore.

Suddenly she felt someone tugging at her dress. Hurriedly wiping off her tears, she looked up. There infront of her stood a little boy, about five years old, dressed in smart clothes. He stood there holding a lollipop in one hand & tugging at her dress with the other. He seemed a little bewildered to see Maya crying. Maya managed to give him a broad smile. The boy responded with a shy one. Maya had noticed the boy playing around in the airport lounge a little while back. She asked him his name. "Rehan", he said. Maya took out a toffee from her bag & gave it to him. Rehan, took it & rewarded Maya with a huge grin.

Feeling a little more confident about himself, Rehan sat himself down beside Maya. Then he asked, "What's your name?" "Maya",his new toffee-giving-friend replied. He seemed to like the name, beacuse he gave a broad smile. "Where are your parents?", Maya asked. Rehan pointed to a huge group of people, sitting on the opposite side of the lounge. The group which was dominated by talkative women & a large number of children, seemed like tourists to Maya. She asked him about his parents( "The fat woman, is my Mom & the man with the long beard is my Dad"), his siblings ("Five sisters & two brothers. I'm the youngest") , where he lived( "Hyderabad") , his school( "Apex Academy. Class I, section D, roll no.36") & whether he had pets( "Two dogs--Moti & Kalu. And one cat--Bobo").

Tired of all this questioning, Rehan held up his hand, indicating Maya to stop. "Now, I will ask you",he said. Maya smiled at him. "Where are your Mamma & Papa?" "In Mumbai" Rehan looked concerned. "Then how will you go home? Alone? Won't you feel scared?" Maya, smiled at Rehan's innocence. "No, I won't be scared. I'm a big girl now", she replied with a grin. "I'm a big boy too! I'm the tallest in my class." "What do you do? Do you go to office?", asked Rehan. "Yes, I do." Soon, Rehan got tired of asking questions. His attention shifted to a new, interesting object he had just spotted. "Whose photo is this?", Rehan asked pointing to the photograph of Krish, Maya was holding in her hand. "This is my son, Krish. I'm waiting to go home to him. I've been waiting for the past four hours, because my flight is getting delayed. I've been away from him for the past two months & right now I'm yearning to go back home & hold him in my arms & hug him & tell him how much I missed him & how much I love him. But I dont know when my flight is going to be scheduled, & when I'll be able to reach home!" Maya broke down. Filled with anger & disappointment at not being able to go home, Maya just couldn't bear it anymore. She cried like a baby.

All this while, that Maya ranted & gave vent to her emotions, Rehan sat beside her looking at her, a bit quizically. But when Maya, started to cry, Rehan gave an understanding look. This was an emotion he understood. His mother had told him, that whenever someone cried, it was because their heart had broken & the person was very, very sad. The only way, to stop the crying was to shower love on the person by giving hugs & kisses to the person or by holding his hand or by patting his shoulder. He saw that his mother did all of the actions whenever he or any of his siblings cried. Rehan, may not fully realize the reason for which his new friend, Maya's heart had broken, but he was definitely going to try & mend it. He was not going to allow his new friend to be very, very sad.

Rehan shifted closer to Maya & held her hand firmly. Then he patted her shoulder lovingly. When he saw that she was still crying, Rehan got down from his seat. Then standing infront of Maya, he slowly uncovered her face, which she had hid behind her hands, to conceal the fact that she was crying. Rehan looked at Maya's tear-strained face. He felt sorry for her. Then, without warning, he gave Maya the biggest bear hug, he could. Maya, was taken aback. For a little while, she just sat, motionless. Then, taken in by the warmth of this unknown kid, she hugged him back. They kept hugging each other for a few minutes, when Maya suddenly felt more pairs of hands around her. Looking around, she saw, the kids from Rehan's family had also gathered to hug her. They must have seen their brother hugging someone, & they had rushed to show solidarity with him.

At that moment, Maya felt a warm, fuzzy feeling inside her. She felt happy. Happy after a long time. She seemed to forget, that she was away from her son. All the anger & frustration that she had inside her seemed to vanish. All because of some act of kindness from some unknown kids at the most unlikeliest places of all! They did not know her. She did not know them. They have never met before & in all likelihood would never meet again for the rest of their lives. But that did not stop these kids from coming over & hugging her, as if she was some long lost friend. They were showering love on a complete stranger, but the love that she saw in their eyes was honest & straight from the heart. They were happy to help someone who was unhappy,& in distress, by extending their warmth. And it was all so unconditional. Maya's heart filled with joy. She gave huge bear hugs to each of the kids. She gave toffees to each of the kids. Flashing big smiles, the kids went back. But Rehan was still there. Maya held Rehan close to her. Suddenly she felt like she was holding Krish in her arms. Here is this kid, Maya thought, whom I've never met before, & who will probably forget about me in a few days, but acted like a little angel for me today. He made me happy & made me feel cared for, at a time when I needed the maximum emotional support. Maya kissed Rehan on both cheeks. He smiled at her. He felt happy that he had been able to mend her broken heart & had been able to make her smile again. Rehan kissed her back.

Just at that moment, Maya heard the announcement that her flight was scheduled to leave in half an hour. Passengers were being called for check-in. Maya's heart leapt up with joy! She would finally be able to go home! She would be able to see Krish in a few hours! Face flushed with excitement, Maya stood up. Then taking Rehan in her arms, she gave him a goodbye kiss. "Thank you Rehan. Thank you sweetheart for making me happy today. I'll remember you for the rest of my life. Today you were my little angel. Thank you. You are a very good boy, Rehan & a great friend. Goodbye dear, I've got to go now." Rehan suddenly felt a little shy to be receiving such praise. He looked down at his feet. Maya started to walk towards the check-in counter. Suddenly she felt two little hands embracing her from behind. She turned around to see Rehan. "I wanted to say, I'll remember you too. Bye-bye." Then, he left & went & joined the other kids in their games.

When Maya sat in the flight, she had a contented smile on her face. Exhausted, she fell asleep on her journey. She dreamt of Rehan & Krish playing together and then running towards her and hugging her. She smiled in her sleep. When she reached home, it was 9P.M. Krish was wide awake, waiting for her. The moment she entered the house, Krish screamed "Mamma" in delight, & ran towards her. Maya swooped him up in her arms an hugged him tightly. All the love that she had been saving for Krish for the past two moths, came out like a torrent. Krish too had missed his Mamma, & refused to let go of her. Only when he fell asleep, was Maya able to free herself from his clutches. Late at night, sitting beside the fast asleep Krish, & caressing his forehead, Maya smiled at her memory of the day's events. She had been amazed how a little unknown boy had given her so much joy, by simply hugging her. Such a simple gesture, yet such a lot of love & warmth it conveyed. And she had learnt an important lesson today, You dont need to know a person to reach out to him & shower him with your love & kindness at his time of need.You dont need to speak eloquent words, or give someone expensive gifts to make someone happy. A small gesture such as a hug, a smile, a pat on the shoulder can go a long, long way. And besides you can give as many hugs to anyone you like, without cringing,'coz HUGS ARE FOR FREE!!

2 comments: