A couple of pre-school kids met for the first time – and most likely for the last time – one summer in a lobby of a hotel. They came from different countries, had different colours of skin, and spoke different languages. They had no toys in their hands, nor were there anything in the lobby that could become toys for the time being. They had nothing in common…
Except the lobby carpet with colourful geographic patterns. And that was all they needed.
While their parents were at the front desk checking in, they both looked around to find something to kill time with, and their eyes met. The next moment, they were playing together – they chased each other around the lobby, defining their own territories as well as neutral zones by the colours and shapes in the carpet patterns. The lobby was filled with their laughter, and smiles on the faces of hotel users and staff watching them.
Unfortunately, their fun time together came to an abrupt end, when their parents finished checking in and turned around. They instantly showed displeasure with frowns on their faces (and with words, too; although I could not understand what they were saying, I could tell they were pretty harsh), and pulled their kids apart in opposite directions. When the kids looked back at each other one last time, they had nothing in common…
No playground, no laughter, not even a last waves good-bye.
This is what I saw many many years ago when I took a job at a hotel in my homeland one summer in my college years. It all happened in a span of just a few minutes, but I still remember it all – the ease at which these two kids came together, and the ease at which they were pulled apart. I can still recall the bliss I felt when I found innocence in its purest form, and the blizzard that blew in my heart when I saw it be shattered right in front of my eyes.
Many many years later, I wonder how they have grown up.
Maybe they have become old enough to be parents themselves.
Maybe they visited my homeland with their kids.
Maybe they checked in to the same hotel they stayed back when they were kids.
And maybe their kids got bored waiting for them, looked around, found another just like them, and shared a moment together.
I wonder how this story will end.
Maybe the same way as theirs did many many years ago?
Or maybe they see the colourful geographic patterns of the lobby carpet – yes, it is still there after all these years! – and recall a memory they have in common.
Maybe they will realize that love need not be learned, but hate is often taught.
And maybe they will choose to let their kids play together and laugh together… and stay innocent together a while longer.
Maybe it is all wishful thinking. But I believe I am innocent until proven guilty of it!