Way back in 1984, Cochin airport was located within the Cochin Naval Base premises. Indian Airlines operated an international flight from Sharjah to Cochin. Very limited facilities were there. The runway was short and the aircraft would come to a very abrupt halt within seconds after touch down.
Visitors could line up along the boundary to watch the passengers descending from the aircraft and walking towards the makeshift terminal building. Mummy and other relatives were standing outside waving and smiling, but my children were not to be seen with them.
After the official formalities, I walked through the Arrivalsarea. To my surprise, I saw my children lined up within the restricted area (a favour from the officials) like three proverbial monkeys. I wanted to cuddle and kiss all of them.
But the most difficult question was “Whom would I cuddle first?’
The Eldest who had lived with us continuously and singularly for nine years or the Middle one whom I had left when she was just one year old or the Youngest whom I had not seen so far.
That was my Dilemma. I do not think many fathers would have been confronted with such a situation?! I had no time to think because I had reached close to the kids. My confusion surmounted to a conclusion. If I go to the Eldest first, what will the other two kids think? If I pick up the Youngest first, what will the other two seniors think?
Yes, I made up my mind, the one who lived with me for ten years should be the one to get my first attention. I was overcome with emotion. My eyes brimmed with tears – tears of happiness, or perhaps tears of regret to have been away from them for a year. I did not know. This was not the time to analyse the origin of tears. I automatically picked up the Eldest one, planted a kiss and cuddled her, then the Middle One and finally the Little One who was standing and watching and eagerly waiting for her turn.
Why this Dad was crying and laughing simultaneously she might have thought. I lifted her and planted kisses many more times and tightly cuddled her. This beautiful baby was a stranger to me but she enjoyed all my foolishness and madness of that situation.