Goodbye Sentiment

Four summers back, I visited my family in Japan for about two weeks. Considering the fact that I lived in another country and could not afford to travel often, it was a rather brief stay. But again, that was all the holiday I managed to accommodate that summer.

The two weeks passed quickly. We crammed everything that a person would normally do over one year in that short period of time: family trips, visiting relatives and friends in other cities, shopping, lunch and dinner at restaurants that we wouldn’t normally go to.

My mother also made sure to cook all my favourite dishes during my stay, which meant almost every dinner menu was like a birthday feast to me. It was something that had never happened all those years ago when I lived with my parents, or even after when I went to college and started living on my own. My mother’s grocery shopping was unusually generous to the extent that I got worried about the family’s meal budget.

On the day of my flight back to Ottawa, my mother and I travelled to Tokyo Haneda Airport together. Usually, my father would also come to see me off, but the day fell on a weekday, and he had to go to work.

My mother and I left home in the morning, took the bullet train to Tokyo, and by midday, we had successfully made it to the airport. After I checked in and dropped my luggage, we ate lunch at one of the restaurants. Once again, my mother insisted that I would eat my favourite food, and we ended up in a tempura restaurant. It was a little costly, but so unlike my mother, she did not even mention such a thing as price.

After everything, we sat at one of the benches to spend some more minutes before I needed to go through the security check. My mother took out a tupperware from her bag and opened the lid. It contained a mountain of grapes — my favourite fruit of all time.

“Eat some,” she said and put the tupperware in my hand.

I had been eating grapes every day for the past week, thanks to my mother’s hospitality, but she had bought a new package just yesterday, so that I could have some more before my trip.

My stomach was full from the tempura lunch, but unable to refuse the special offer, I started picking the grapes.

Ten minutes passed. I was eating the grapes and chatting with my mother, occasionally checking the time. My flight was departing in about an hour, and I thought I should get going. But my mother seemed not at all concerned about the time. It was so unlike her, because whenever we travelled together, she was always the one to keep the time.

I finally opened my mouth.

“Mom, I think I should get going.”


The disappointment was wide on her face. For a moment, I thought I should stay with her a little longer. Then my mother asked,

“When is your flight?”

“It’s leaving in an hour.”

“Then you must go now.”

Suddenly, she came back to her senses, collecting all the tupperwares in her bag. Together, we shuffled to the security check, and we gave each other goodbye hugs before I went to clear the security check.

Once I walked to my gate, boarding had already started, revealing how close I was to missing my flight. But no shock came to me. All I was thinking in that moment was the tupperware of grapes my mother had taken out of her bag and the sad disappointment on her face when I told her I was leaving.