elb's hovel of thoughts

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Saying Goodbye

Kayleigh ran off, giggling. Malachi and I were alone, him inside the blue of the Thomas the tank engine tent, with me crouching outside. Suddenly, he was standing straight on his knees.

'Patrick, where are you going?' he asked, his face looking serious. It was only a couple of hours earlier that the pastor had announced to the congregation of my departure, during a family service with all the children present.

Taken aback at his sudden maturity (thinking back, he did that on certain occasions, but I still hadn't gotten used to it), I didn't really think. 'I'm going back home for a few weeks.'

'Home? What?' His face, looking lost and upset, focused away from me. I wanted to punch myself in the face; I certainly did not anticipate that reaction. (Actually, I think that he said more of a 'Home? I don't understand.', but I can't remember.)

'I stay somewhere else.' I patted his head and ruffled his hair a little. 'But I will be coming back for a while, then I'll be moving to London'.

He looked at me, quiet. I was at loss for words. When Kayleigh came running back, shouting for him, I was relieved. He immediately got up and was shouting happily, bouncing up and down. I got up. Its an amazing thing how young children can change moods faster than one can snap his fingers. he did not forget however; when I asked him later if he wanted to take a picture with me, he shook his head and ran off.

Oh well. In a decade, I would be relegated to the furthest recesses of his memory. Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if any of kids totally forget who I am by the time they hit their teenage years.

I went around to engage in some quick small talk and for some pictures; I was not supposed to be at the picnic, but be packing instead because I was leaving in a couple of hours! Iona was posing cheekily as usual for the camera and giggled at my contorted expression when she related in full detail how she ate the chocolate eggs I brought.

As Iona's mother said, 'She's too young to understand but she'll feel it in a while', when Iona giggled as she told her that she might never see me again. Samuel was not around.

Eventually though, I had to go. I did not manage to finish clearing my room and sealing my boxes by the time it came to leave for Heathrow. It was still acceptable because my friend was taking over and I would be moving before he comes back. I sure hope my landlord got my letter and cheque on behalf of my friend though; I don't want my belongings to get tossed out.

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