The Waiting Room

Mrs. Lauren White or Laura as she was called a few days back, before her marriage, sat down with her cup of coffee in a chair of an almost full waiting room in Terminal 2 of the JFK Airport. She liked to be called Laura, just Laura, because somehow the name ‘Lauren White’ that too prefixed with a ‘Mrs.’ made her feel old already, even at twenty-four. Travelling was another task that made her feel so and unnecessary delays, like the one in her flight today, even got her into that characteristic zone of irritation. But of course, she was in one of the busiest airports of the world and such delays should not make a responsible married woman like her irate. So, to ignore that undesired feeling, she picked up a newspaper. ‘THE WAR IS OFFICIALLY OVER’ was the first headline on the front page. ‘Who in the world cares for these political stunts?’, she thought to herself as she flipped over the page to read her favorite article on the latest fashion trend.
She had just started to read into the first line when an anxious voice caught her attention. It was a woman, perhaps in her mid-thirties, nervously and anxiously making enquiries at the information kiosk, sweating profusely. ‘Why is she so anxious about a flight delay? It happens all the time here. I hope I do not turn out to be like that when I am thirty’, thought Laura. However, she continued to watch as the lady making the inquiries finally turned around, walked towards her, and took a seat beside her.
‘The flight to D.C. is due to take-off after an hour’, she announced to Laura, ’By the way, I am Clara Calloway’. ‘I am Laura, and yes I know it is a nuisance, but I could not help but notice you sweating profusely, it is only a few minutes late Mrs. Calloway’, said Laura.
‘Oh yes, I know I must be looking very messed up, but I can’t help feeling so excited, my Husband is arriving in Washington today evening and I want to be there on time to greet him’
‘Okay, so he went on a long business trip, did he?’, asked Laura indifferently, once again trying to read her column.
‘Long trip, yes. He is returning from Iraq after six years. You must have surely heard about the War getting over?’, asked Clara. This made Laura take notice, she put the paper aside, although after stealing a glance at the headline she had ignored the first time.
‘I am so proud he has been there serving our country’, continued Clara, ‘Although there were times when the pain of separation almost became unbearable. Like the time he lost his leg last year. I couldn’t hold myself up when I read it in his letter. Those times made me weak, made me question if he was sacrificing himself and us, his family, for people who wouldn’t even bother about the war. But I realized in time that I was being foolish, and above it, I was being selfish.  It is not the present alone my husband was fighting for, it was the future as well, future form which our kids and millions of children like them will benefit.’
‘PASSENGERS TRAVELLING BY FLIGHT NO. FB-1217 ARE REQUESTED TO PROCEED TOWARDS GATE 1-A. I AM HAPPY TO ANNOUNCE THAT WE ARE NOW READY FOR DEPARTURE.’ The distant announcement seemed to silence the crowd in the waiting room for a moment, but the silence was lost again in the hustle-bustle as passengers gathered their belongings to head towards their destination.
‘I think that’s our call, I am really sorry to have interrupted you, you were reading the paper I think’, Clara said humbly.
‘Not at all. It was a pleasure to hear from someone who has a better view of this country. I was whiling away the time earlier, now I am going to read the paper indeed’, Laura said smilingly as she took out the paper to see the front page more carefully.
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