The last hugs were over, the last kisses fluttered, and tears brushed away. As Aara turned and skipped down the stone steps, over the gravel and into the waiting taxi, the last “bye then”, “happy adventures”, “keep in touch” blew to her in the soft breeze along with the warbling of the cuckoos, and insistent “teeya teeya teeeeeya” of the parakeets. Her suitcase was already in the boot, her directions given to the taxi driver. She slid into her seat, and lowered the window, smiling back at the bunch of people waving and blowing kisses at her from the top of the steps. The taxi whirred into life, and rolled away slowly down the gravel path, from the stone building which, along with the people, started to recede away from her.
Aara twisted in her seat, placed her knees against the back of the seat and blew back kisses through the rear window. Somewhere in the recesses of her heart there was sorrow. It was painful to leave behind those who she had worked with for the last twelvemonth. But it was low and soft, this ache. Overflowing in her awareness right now was a sense of fulfilment, of burgeoning happiness.
She looked towards the rice fields away in the East. She changed her position, and peered into the distance. Damjan had said his goodbyes early in the day, he needed to go out with the others to tend to the paddy. He was there right now, looking after the process, his voice mingling with the others as they chanted the age old words, bent over the mud, handling the saplings. She could almost picture him, his red hair flowing down his back his trousers folded up above his knees, bent over double in the ankle deep mud. That was his adventure. That, and reminding everyone in “The Borough” to keep in touch with their own adventures. This morning, he had shaken her hand, and said, as he had, a year ago to the tremulous smile that had fluttered up at him, “Welcome to your adventure.” He had no tears, no wise words of parting, just words of welcome. He had been excited to hear about her new job and opportunity, and had hastened to congratulate her, with almost unseemly pleasure. His enthusiasm at her imminent departure had seemed a little strange even after having worked at “The Borough” for a year. Why was he so happy to see her go? Aara had almost asked him that. Then her remembrance that Damjan was always happy to see progress, and never attached himself to anyone, kept her silent. It was a quality difficult to accept, in a world where love meant attachment, and loyalty meant sticking to another’s side. But one almost came to understand it, when one worked near Damjan everyday.
Aara brought her gaze back to the side of the gravel path, where the solar panels gleamed yellow and gold next to the flowering herbs that grew alongside. The very first day she had come here for her interview, Elpy had been kneeling beside one of the panels, by the side of the path, fixing it, and talking into her earpiece. Aara had assumed that she was on the line with someone who was helping her fix whatever was broken. It was only after she came back here to work, that she learned that it had probably been the other way round. Elpy had likely been helping someone else fix whatever was broken on the other side of the line. She would go about her work, speaking into her earpiece with someone who had called for her help. Anything that broke, anywhere, and the first cry that would resound would be “ Call Elpy”! Elpy, kind, patient, and knowing, would answer, always on her hands free phone, because her hands were busy fixing something else. Even while she attended to her own work, she would work her magic across the waves for someone else. Right now, though, Elpy was back at the steps waving her handkerchief wildly at Aara, though it was too far away to see if she was speaking to an absent person. Right next to her were Diar, and Enaid, still smiling and waving as well.
Diar, who saw everything. Even the tears that Aara hid so well from everyone else. The tears that flowed because she always seemed to do things wrong, or badly. The tears which also flowed when she did do something well, but there was so much more left to do. Diar, who never spoke much, but always just shimmered present right next to her, just when he was most needed, and said the exact few words that set her straight back onto her adventure. It was hard to shed tears when Diar was around. One could not help but see oneself through his eyes. In a few moments he would have her feeling like she was the best initiate that “The Borough” had ever had. She never afterwards remembered exactly what he had said, just a sense of lightness as he walked back to his tasks, and she turned to her own.
Aara could still see the bright green bow on Enaid’s head, even though she had to imagine the giant smile that went with it. She felt again the warmth of it enveloping her as it had everyday for the past twelvemonth. She whisked her scarf off her own head and waved it out of the window. “Bye, thank you, and welcome to my memories”, she said softly.
“We are almost at the main road, miss, please put on your seat belt”. The taxi driver was peering darkly at her in the rear vision mirror. Aara sat down and clicked the seat belt into place. The car turned into the main road, towards the setting sun. To Aara it looked more like a new dawn.
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