A lump crawls up the back of my throat, pushing at the corners of my eyes. It glistens on the ledge and threatens to fall.
A stuttered heavy breath is drawn and I feel the back of my jaw tighten. I have had this moment many times before and recognised it rising. A motioning of my hand guides down the well rested shades to hide the onset of perceptible tears.
I clench my fists, shut my eyes behind dark shades, and hear my mind count. Three. Two. One. Exhale.
A trail of dampness is a carousel down the contour of my cheek.
It’s a moment in passing. Nothing worthy of being noticed, but if – and when you do, it will make you feel so very small. A humbling of sorts. A tingle that informs some unknown part of your conscience that this is the way home.
This rising of the tide within came to me once on my way back home – part of that flock of plumed Kumuls flying over seas, making their seasonal return for an overdue break, though never having missed a beat from the heartbeat of the mother nest.
Staring out through large panes of glass onto planes docked at the Brisbane International Airport, the familiar red, purple, gold and green of the curled up kumul hanging off a white Boeing 767-300, glided in to take its place among a sea of international carriers.
Home was almost here.
Surveying the terminal, a lively rustle among the other Papua New Guinean students, who had undoubtedly gathered here from across the seas were all on their way home. A familiar journey to all of us, and one that would ultimately define us – both here and there.
And now we are awaiting the cabin doors to open at Jackson’s International Airport, Port Moresby. Preparing ourselves for a sultry November midday, and as I bring down my shade, I brush against the damp trail in a bid to hide it.
But the contained grin from the Air Hostess standing watch at the end of the cabin let’s me know it was an effort in vain. She has seen it many times before and no doubt will see many more Kumuls come to rest.
I walk past her putting on a muted grin, somewhat embarrassed.
“Welcome home…”, she whispers.
Three. Two. One. Exhale.