where personalities are developed

January 26, 2003 sunday - 23:07

on the next new year, i want to be at the airport.

i want to sit at the viewing gallery, watching planes take off through the night, each with its load of passengers going home or away. i want to watch, seeing the lights of aeroplanes running through my reflection on the glass on the night. i want to wonder who exactly is in all those planes and where exactly they are going and why.

..the train [Adela was on was] half asleep, going nowhere in particular and with no passenger of any importance in any of its carriages, the branch-line train, lost on a low embankment between dull fields...Far away behind her, with a shriek that meant business, rushed the Mail, connecting up important towns such as Calcutta and Lohore, where interesting events occur and personalities are developed.

i will remember this passage from A Passage to India and in particular the phrase "personalities are developed" which my lit teacher emphasised. i will liken the branch train to my own cloistered life and the Mail to the planes coming and going off in a blaze of glory and importance to places where personalities are developed.

anyway, i will watch. thinking of all this and of life and of nothing in particular.

and i will wait, with a friend perhaps - the friend i am now thinking of, or a friend i have not yet met - until the dawn breaks. perhaps i will note at midnight when the year has passed, perhaps i will remember only at half-past or later. and perhaps i will say, to my friend or to myself, that this new year's crossing i had already planned out almost a year ago. when 2003 the year itself was still new and uncertain and full of possibilities, this the year that has passed. and smile silently at the half-irony.

i will come up, in the course of the night, with silly and appropriate metaphors, like about life being a journey, about leaving, about airports, things like that.

and as the sun comes up, the night, and the old year, will die away. as the newness of the day is eaten by tiredness and the heat of the noon, and the airport becomes busier, and everything is as it always is, new year or not, my heart will ache, as it always does, for the year that has died. for the sadness the planes carry away. for the people in the planes. for the hope - the lack of it - in the new year. for everything that has transpired in the past. for the chances i had but decided not to go after.

for the planes are going away, to new and interesting places, to foreign places, so that personalities can be developed, while i am sitting there, grounded, watching them fly away.

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