Monday, June 20, 2005

A perfect goodbye

A dear friend left for Canada. It was her first trip out of the country, and as we drove to the airport late at night, she hummed to songs playing on the radio. It was, as you know, late; at a time when people are fast asleep. But some were awake, calling up the radio station, chatting for long with a polite jockey who did not know how to stop them. We turned the volume down and kept silent, the weight of the length of her trip away seemingly everywhere, on our heads, in our hearts. What can one say? Come back soon? Take care? Our friends and family carry our unsaid prayers and greetings with them.

Later, standing by luggage outside terminal 2A, I remembered how heart-breaking goodbyes were when I left for college, carrying prayers, greetings, and lots of laddoos. Every goodbye that meant something came back and reminded me that there is an art in saying goodbye; not too long, or it may seem overly sentimental; not too short, or it will seem incomplete. In the end, after her trolley was loaded and we stood in that weird limbo between here and departure, the words came by themselves. It was the most perfect goodbye of all: a look, a brief bye, and a touch that said 'I'll see you soon.'

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