The Art Of Goodbye

“You also know
I also know
Our ways are getting separated
Even going away from me
You stay in my memories
Never say goodbye”

– Lyrics from Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna

Goodbye is my least favorite word in any language.

There is not much good in it.

It feels like I have spent my lifetime perfecting the art of goodbye.

I was thinking about this as I was watching a friend of mine cross the stage, signaling the end of his time in college. I was elated to see him and my other friends graduate; proud of them for finishing their degree and excited for the endless possibilities their lives contained. I was also heartbroken that they were leaving. Mostly, though, I was grateful that our lives have crossed paths to begin with. That day, I watched the commencement ceremony online, not because there wasn’t enough room in the auditorium but because goodbyes are extremely difficult for me. I wasn’t there, not because I didn’t care, but because I cared too much.

While I was attending my international school, friends came and left like trains at a busy station. In college, saying farewell to my international student friends was particularly hard because we knew our time together was so limited. I have felt a terrible ache when I have left those places, great people and moments behind.

Throughout my life, I have had to say goodbye many times. It is one of the things a person like myself, who has lived a non-linear life, is all too familiar with, but never really talks about, even though it is always hiding in the shadows of my thoughts. Even with my kind of lifestyle, it doesn’t get easier to leave. Sometimes it becomes harder because I have already moved with startling frequency. For those like me, who feel forever rootless, goodbye can be the very thing that brings us to our knees.

But it is also a blessing in disguise because it has made me see the beauty in ordinary moments. I have learned to enshrine memories in glass cases deep in my heart to remind me that these people and places existed. I have learned to live every day as if it was my last because I can never know when goodbye may come again. Another beauty of global mobility is the ability to go anywhere and to start again once more.

I will continue to watch more of my friends graduate and start the next chapter of their stories. They came into my life with such force, like an airplane barrelling down a runway. Soon they will leave with that same sense of urgency, with infinite promise greeting them wherever they arrive next. When they depart, I will carry my memories of them in my pockets like the treasures that they are.

I am reminded of a J.M. Barrie quote that goes, “Never say goodbye. Goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.” I’ve realised that perhaps the secret to the art of goodbye is to never say it out loud. Not because I don’t care, but because I care too much.


* Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna: Never Say Goodbye in Hindi

This article was first published on 20 September 2017