Monday, 22 May 2017

Goodbyes are tough, and easy too


I think goodbyes are the most definitive and long lasting of all human emotions. A hello is curious, welcoming and unsure of why it is where it is. The smaller 'Hi' is a little more cheeky and informal. The goodbye, on the other hand, is precise and clear-cut on the message it wants to convey. It hits you hard and leaves you mellow.

Goodbyes cut out a piece of you everytime you hear them. And they happen all the time. Goodbyes happen all the time. Outside houses, schools, malls and nearly all places human beings visit. Of all the places, however, those which happen at airports, railway stations, bus stands or whatever other mode of transport you pick, are the most soul jarring. These goodbyes leave an unfinished feeling, an emotion which is complete but the effect is not yet. Everyday, at these places, millions of goodbyes exchange hearts. Everyday at these junctions, a goodbye ends a story and starts another one.

Of all the places, however, airports have the toughest goodbyes. And perhaps the easiest too. Easy because they end in a flash. Goodbyes at airports are easy because you don't have to stay with the heavy departing emotion for very long. Some family member will crack a joke. Some last minute advice from a senior member of the elder generation will be passed on. A precaution to take, a medicine you must not forget.

The shy new bride, who got married only three months ago in this family is also present. Occasionally, she steals a glance at her husband, who is at least a couple inches taller than her. She is tall too. And for today, she is decked up as well. Another tall couple nearby exchanges glances with this one and knows what they feel. Perhaps the former are accustomed to this feeling now. Of letting someone go without uttering goodbye verbally. Eyes meet and they say a lot more than goodbye.

There will be grim faces of fatherly figures, overseeing the proceedings, oblivious of the chit chat, trying to maintain composure. These fatherly figures are ready to act the moment they sense something wrong. Nothing will go wrong. Hopefully. Passports have been checked, the tickets verified. The documents are all in position.

It's time for the goodbye.

Fellow travellers who are behind wait patiently for the hellos and the final handshakes and waves and the good-bye to get over. They remember their first time. The first time they flew, they were nervous too. Someone came to see them off to. There was a line behind them as well. The then flier behind them in the history did not egg them to make it fast. Perhaps they are returning the favour.

Once the flyer is past that glass wall, past the first of many security checks, they are gone. Off into another world. Now, those hand waves are hardly seen. People nonetheless try. On both sides of the world separated by glass walls. Uncles and aunts, nephews, nieces on either side of the glass wall say goodbye. Once inside the terminal, the flier is alone again.

Some people move with a clinical precision, as if they know exactly what is where on the airport, like the back of their hand. Others are nervous. Perhaps the first time fliers. Unsure of what world is going to consume them once they are inside. An air hostess also checks in. It's work for her. Perhaps she does not like coming here. Who, after all, likes coming to the office daily?

Goodbyes are toughest on airports. Its tough because all you have now are a few thoughts to hold on to. At airports, you can not even have that one last glimpse, one final drop of love for your parched soul. You have said your goodbyes, but those are not enough. Nearly not. It is tough holding on to those departing words. You are unsure of what to feel. The glass door, opening and closing as one approaches and leaves is perhaps the best example of goodbyes. Easy and tough. Goodbyes.

Goodbyes are easy. And tough too.


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