I have two daughters. Olga age four. Venla age two. I look at their pictures on the whole of my room in Southwark (London). It is evening. Maybe ten o’clock. I have finished packing my two bags for today’s flight back to Ha Noi via Singapore. I have cleaned the room. Thrown paper away. Folded the jumpers I will not need during the next two months. Put them in a box. Took plastic bags to wrap my Ikea pillows. Put my Asics runners away. The room is still. The bed lamp on, warm white light. Even Woolworth Rd where I live seems quieter. I have just talked on the phone with my friend Omar who is teaching economics in Chemnitz (ex Karl Marx Stadt). Inevitably our conversation went on our home town, our lives abroad and the decision to leave Italy. Our current lives which have the same concerns as if we would still live in Cremona but at the same seem freer, at least to me.
Sitting at the edge of the futon bed. Sip Roibos tea. Enjoy the stillness that follow the end of packing and marks the beginning of the waiting time until the departure. The wall I am watching at is full of pictures. They are my links to Katja and the girls while I am away for work. Almost all of them are about our family and the life in various countries during last five to six years: Finland, Nepal, Finland, Cambodia, Finland, Vietnam.
I slowly fly over the pictures. Up and down. Left to right. North to South. East to West. Europe to Asia. Asia to Europe. Look ay Venla as a baby. Olga in the lap of Chan when we left Phnom Penh, Venla in Finland at the mökki, me and Olga the terasse of a Greek restaurant in Tampere. Look at Olga, at her smile and my mind starts to wonder off. My eyes still looking at this wall of pictures buy my mind sees a memory of few weeks ago. We are in Ha Noi. It is evening. We have been out for dinner to a Japanese restaurant. Four adults and five children of various ages. We just left the taxi at the parking lot of the Swedish Camp where we all live. The children are running around. The four of us walk and soon will to say good night to each other. Olga is walking few meters behind me talking to her friend Emma. Emma starts to run towards her house across the garden, Olga is on the path with us. I hear them saying good night to each other. I stop and turn around to observe. ‘Good night Emma’. ‘Good night Olga’. Emma runs away. Stops. Seem not sure about what to do. Turns back and calls for Olga. I see Olga on the path. Waiting for her friend running towards her. It is almost like seeing the scene frame after frame. As pictures on a PC slideshow. Olga waits for Emma. Looking at her running across the garden. She is really in the moment. Going to bed can wait, there is this moment just now.
They reach. They whisper something to each other which I cannot hear. It is their secret. Maybe a plan for the next day. Or a story for later. Or again the discussion to ask to us if they can still play for just half an hour before going to sleep. I see the two of them standing on the foot path, under the warm light in the garden. Olga holds Emma hand. And it comes as a sudden realisation to me, in that very split second, that very frame that she has an own world, own thoughts, own talks with friend from which I am rightly excluded. That she has grown up.
The picture in my memory fades and I return on the pictures on the wall. My room. London. Departure. Home. Where is home? What is home? Home is the family. I would so much like to have that frame of Olga and Emma among these pictures, so strong are my feelings for that moment. I wish we had the ability to take pictures with our own eyes, just a blink…click! Store them in the mind and download them to a PC. The problem I see with it is that we would be able to re-live constantly our life which may not be so good after all. Like this Monty Payton character in a show I just saw in the plane screen, who was walking to God: … woosh, that was your life. So short? Can I have another one? No, you can’t. So b make of that …. woosh the best we can.
Well, at least I have this picture in my mind and can try to put it in words as I am doing now on this plane at 36009ft over the Caspian Sea, en route to Singapore and Ha Noi … en route home.
SQ317 London – Singapore