We’re at Vaclav Havel Airport. He’s older than me. 25, to be specific. His green full sleeved shirt has become a part of him. He’s worn it so often that every time I think of him, I think of him with it. He returns from the toilet, sits next to me. I have to go now, he says.
I walk him for a while, towards Terminal 1 where he is to board a plane to Bucharest. Halfway through, we hug and part. I walk to the security check, to take my plane back to Milan.
Two people hold hands in front of me. They talk in an intensity I’m unable to decipher. I clear my bag and when I turn to look at them, they’ve walked in different directions. I’m in the middle of them as they walk away. And where they were is an emptiness.
Earlier that day, we had woken up in the Old Square Hostel in Prague, quickly put our things together and rushed to Namaste Republiky station. The escalator which lead us down to the station was long, almost straight, thoroughly nauseating. I stood behind him as if that was all the security I needed. On the train, I declared that Prague was a big city, unlike Milan. What if Prague has more than one airport? he asked me. I pretended to panic, then went on to sit quietly and didn’t clear his mind. The train went from one stop to another – we were four stops away from Zlicin. He got up to enquire – Is there only one airport at Prague? Yes. Vaclav Havel Airport in Ruzyne. We laughed together.
Outside the airport, I’m reminded of the night my father dropped me off at Chennai International. He stood with a throng of wavers and saw me check in and clear immigration. Even after he had left, from a corner I stood looking at the wavers. I kept thinking that my father was there, still there, waving to me.
At Vaclav Havel, everything looked clean. An East Asian boy and an Indian girl caught people’s eyes. Ours caught the Czech men. He told me that he was 17 when he visited Mykonos. When I was about to leave, I cried, he confessed. I told him about the time I cried in Venice. Leaving a country has always happened in tears.
Ray LaMontagne sings in my ears,
‘Don’t let your soul get lonely child
It’s only time, it will go by
Don’t look for love in faces, places
It’s in you, that’s where you’ll find kindness
Be here now, here now
Be here now, here now’
I watch him walk away – take the stairs, then turn around to wave, walk away. I stand watching. Even after he’s left, I stand watching. Slow tears collect in my eyes. I lock my jaws to prevent further emotions. In my blurring sight, our time in Prague flashes across my mind. How we were seated laughing at Chapeau Rouge, how we were dancing at the Dubliner. In my blurring sight, even after he’s left is the remains of his green shirt. The remains of a best friend.
Location: Václav Havel Airport Prague, 161 08 Praha