I hate goodbyes, I hate them with a vengance. They make me sick like nothing else does — not even lizards and cockroaches. They make me helpless. Of course it doesn’t mean anything. I have still had to say thousands of goodbyes in my comparatively small life. I have had to move away from people who I thought i could not breathe without, I have had people move away from me. However much I cry, or sulk, or mope, I know they are a reality of life.
I learnt about them very early in life. Since the time I remember life, I remember goodbyes — with schools, teachers, friends, family; with homes and streets. Initially, people would tell me it is not a big deal, you will come back to these places, to these people, you will meet them soon and all will be the same.
But of course it was never the same. You hardly get to go back, and if at all, the things you go back to, and go back for, are no longer the things you had come back for. People have moved on, places have changed, and you — who has returned expecting to fit in the scene just like before — have no place left to take. Sometimes the place is taken by other people, sometimes by your own ghost, but it is not available to you anymore.
Occupying the same space and same time as others is a mystic thing, it happens organically and becomes an intrinsic part of you, just as you become an inseparable part of it. The human need to interdepend — on both, people and places — ensures that you weave yourself in your environment like you have always belonged there. It is as true for us humans as it is for any other living creature — trees, pets, stray animals. If you don’t your survival becomes hard, if you do, more often than not, you thrive.
But what happens when you have to uproot yourself? Or those who you have grown roots with are uprooted. Do you stay grounded or leave with them?
Staying put, again, is a human tendency. After all, how many things can you run behind, how many people can you uproot yourself for? That is also perhaps the difference between humans and animals: as much as we may be interdependent, we are also independent. So we stay, even though a part of our root also undoes itself and moved with those moving. A part of your self goes with the person going. And as much as you may want, that part never comes back to you.
Maybe then we mourn breaking up of ourselves and not really the others who are moving. Maybe we cry for we know that we will never be the same again. We shed tears for the part of our spirit, the piece of our soul, which now goes with the person — or stays behind in a place.
Bidding adieu makes us vulnerable. It makes us sad. It brings forth our fears, it reveals our insecurities. More than others it makes us aware of our own need to belong — to a place, to a person, to a society, to a clan. It shows us the hollowness behind our perceived nonchalance; it tells us how small we are in the larger scheme of things.
In that way, perhaps, goodbyes are not such a bad thing after all. Plus, in a world where crying is considered a weakness, they let you indulge in it once in a while. If nothing else, it helps you vent the emotions you have bottled up forever.