I wrote this article for TOI (Times of India) almost a decade ago. When we revisit old memories, we are shocked by the sea of change. That was how I felt when I read my earlier article. The article below was written when I had to bid goodbye to a very dear friend. Emotions were bubbling inside, and writing was an easy outlet. Since then, I have learned that there are far more painful goodbyes; some travel far beyond life – An empty nest, a dear one’s death, farewell to your earlier self.
Disclaimer: This article was written by my ten years younger self, who no longer exists. If you want to sue her thoughts, order a time machine.
PS: This article can be read on TOI also.
Saying goodbye is never easy. No amount of earlier experience prepares you for it. It is an unpleasant fact, a bitter medicine that has to be consumed. Each time it is consumed it emits the same bitter taste.
Recently a very dear friend of mine left the emirates for greener pastures. I had promised myself that this time I‘d be strong. This time I will not let my emotions flow as tears. I should have known better. We bid farewell to each other in between, emotional embraces, sobs and promises to be in touch via, Skype and Facebook. Yes, it is true, that electronic media today is omnipresent and all-pervasive. It has brought the world so much closer. We can search for and find our long-lost childhood friends on Facebook and simply add them to our lives with a click. We are aware of their moods, there were about, their vacations, and their kid’s birthdays through constant status updates and photos. Today we are more connected, yes- but are we actually close?
Sharing your thoughts or even thoughtless gossip with a friend over a cup of tea cannot be substituted by banging fingers on an impersonal machine while chatting. Physical proximity counts a lot. Thanks to video conferencing, every weekend both sets of parents have literally watched the kids grow. I am indebted to technology for those graces. However, I still miss the feel of my mother’s fingers on my hair as I rest my head on her lap. I miss sharing the daily titbits and worries, and I know our parents just ease out their creases and worries and put their best foot forward, during such conversations. The inconsequential details are either never shared or put out for a more appropriate time when we meet. The buzz at the back of my mind -Why trouble them unnecessarily?
We end up discussing profound, spiritual, philosophical, realistic, fashionable, and endless other topics with friends. Most of the time, I have gained some insight or a different perspective about certain things. At all times meeting up with friends elevate my mood, and brings out a livelier and more animated self. There I said it. Meeting friends makes me feel better about myself. It makes me love myself more. So perhaps when I said by goodbye my melancholic mood was triggered by a selfish motive. It was as if I was losing part of myself. That is not the end of the story. I wish the human mind were as uncomplicated as that. My friend like many other people we bid goodbyes to had made a place for herself in my life and heart. Her reaction, her antics, her perspective and above all her presence will be craved always. As an expatriate, we build a world for ourselves, a home away from home. We extend the concept of family and friends become part of it. We know that happily ever after’s are found only in fairy tales. I know there are more heartbreaking farewells than the ones I am facing now. The more permanent goodbyes like the demise of a loved one. Farewells when nothing but the pain is real. When kids grow and fly away from the nest we call home. That is reality and it bites. It all boils down to one thing letting go! Therefore, I will let go and wish her a safe journey and happy life.