The winds were blowing strongly beyond the corridor window. The floodgates of heaven had opened and rain was pouring down relentlessly.

Three raps on the wooden door signalled my arrival. I shivered in my slightly drenched working clothes, waiting eagerly for the door to open. To see my son for a short while before I leave. There just wasn’t enough time.

After 30 seconds, the door opened, revealing the floor strewn with Matthew’s toys. Matthew was already walking halfway to the door, carrying his heavy toy box. His little face lit up at the sight of me, mirroring my look as I focused on him.

Matthew dropped his toy box at the gate, and reached his little arm as far out as he could through the grilles of the gate, seeking my own big hand. His hand slipped into mine naturally, and at once he tried to pull my hand inwards. He burst out in his childish but clear voice, “MaMa, go there!”, pointing into the flat with his other hand.

“No, Matthew, Mummy is not coming in.” I gently retracted my hand from his. He looked at me for a second, stunned.

Then he promptly broke down in tears. “MaMa, go there, go there!”, obstinately refusing to believe his Mummy is not crossing the threshold to him.

PoPo came to the rescue and scooped him into her arms. He automatically laid his head on her shoulders and continued sobbing. “MaMa has to go to work, Matthew”, PoPo said, stroking his back to console him.

PoPo turned so Matthew was now facing me. I repeated “Matthew, Mummy is not coming in. Mummy has to go to work, okay?”

With his eyes still full of swimming tears, he nodded against PoPo’s shoulders as he understood. “MaMa go work”. “MaMa bye-bye”, as he waved goodbye to me.

My own eyes started filling up with tears, as I gazed into his tear-swarmed and bright ones. “Matthew, bye-bye, bye-bye”, I waved back. Reluctantly, I forced myself to walk away. I turned around one more time as the door was closing behind me. His gaze was still focused on me until we could no longer see each other…


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