“... The thought of leaving Cairo felt scary and exciting. The emotions running through my head grounded me and yet called for me to venture on further.
I found my way to a little airstrip where I was told that a plane was to fly back to India in the next morning.
I gathered my few belongings and carried them in the rucksack my mother had given me the night before I left, the same rucksack that my brother had taken when he enrolled to go to war. She had known for a while of my desires to go, even though I had never told her where and when.
Ever since the death of my brother during the war, a lot had changed in her. Although the fear of losing her other son haunted her, she would not have had the heart to deprive me of a life that my brother never got the chance to live.
They say that life is short, and now I understood why. For the fragility of life does not lie in the idea that it will one day end, but in the idea that you never know when it might suddenly end.
My first plane journey was to take me across many lands even further away from home than I had ever been. A journey from Cairo to Mumbai. The thought of finally stepping foot in the famous city that so many of my books mentioned excited me. I felt like I already knew the place and yet I had never been.
I was already longing to wander the streets and see for my own eyes the colours and smiles of the culture and the people who make it. A vision I had only seen in my dreams
I sat down on the top of a small dune for one last glimpse of the Pyramids. The view also showed the Nile, and more importantly, the oceans of sand that lead me from Casablanca to here.
I opened my rucksack looking for my journal, and as I went into the small inside pocket, I felt an envelope which I had not noticed before.
The envelope looked old, just as my journal would one day. On the front of it, it read ‘To my son’.
I opened it and read the letter:
“My dear son,
I know you leave tomorrow.
I don’t want to make a fuss about it, especially in front of your father... and besides, you probably have a lot to prepare and to get ready for.
I know you don’t think it right for you to stay here but know that your absence will be felt. And as frightened as I am, your courage, so great as it is, almost feels strong enough to carry both of us through this.
The table will be set for you when you come back, and you can be sure that on your return the fire will be lit and a glass of whiskey will be waiting for you, as the rest of us will be too.
I hope that the Unknown proves itself to be more wonderful than it is to be feared.
As I read the words that she had so carefully written, the thought of her by the fire at home brought tears to my eyes. I wished she could have seen then, what I see now. The sun setting peacefully and slowly in front me, just as the flames of the fire would doing back home.
Re-reading the letter, I started to wonder if my mother had put this letter the bag for me or for when my brother was leaving for war. Either way, I knew that her words were true and that I would one day come back home from my travels, with stories to tell and a eulogy for the Unknown.