In every step of our lives, we say goodbye to our friends and families at one time or another. ‘Goodbye’ is a word that inevitably follows a ‘Hi’. We say hello to so many people from the time we take our first breath and then we say goodbye to them knowingly or unknowingly as we gradually take our steps into the future. We hold human relations and the humans who are part of those relations close to our hearts. Friends, grandparents, parents, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, husbands, wives, sons, daughters and all those who cannot be categorized are always hard to say goodbye to. In the midst of all these, little do we realize that we say goodbye to many more elements that go unheard or unseen and almost always are never thanked.
The first bench in our first class, the playground of nursery school, the innocence of childhood, the stairs of high school, the dear books and clothes we part with to make space for new ones, the warm bed in our parents’ house when we leave home for the first time, the first mobile phone, the first car, a destination we return from after a long vacation, the festivities when they end, every loved moment with our first pet are just some of those elements that pass by unnoticed. When I left north India in the beginning of this year, left Gurgaon – a city I almost despised – I did not know that saying goodbye even to a place you never liked can hurt and remain somewhere deep inside. A few days back, I realized that a city is not just a place; it is all about the elements it comprises. So, in my case, it is the apartment with the large terrace, the innumerable sunsets, my voiceless friends like the pigeon and the stray dogs, the park across the street, my long reading sessions, the taste of warm food in chilly winter nights, the sound of guitar that echoed through the rooms that I miss today the most about Gurgaon. I have said goodbye to them and can never return again.
I went back a little further in time and I felt I said goodbye to so much more: I said ‘bye’ to my favorite festival – Durga Puja, one month ago. I had to say goodbye helplessly to my kitty Sandy, when I put her in grave three years ago. I had said goodbye to my favorite Indian destination, Kerala, four years ago, after a long vacation. I had said goodbye to my first job during recession five years ago. I had said goodbye to the fields and trees and the long balcony of my college 9 years ago. I had said goodbye to my school church and the beautiful sound of its piano 12 years ago. And I have said goodbye to so many things and elements and seasons in between without saying thank you.
I realize now, that I say goodbye to every breath, every time I breathe and with it I say goodbye to a part of my life. I know now that I will not let anything that touches me, pass by, without saying thank you before saying goodbye. I believe every non-human has feelings and if it has made a difference to my life, it has helped me live through another day. A thank you or a goodbye can never be meant for humans alone. These two words are for everything that makes us what we are today – living or non-living, tangible or intangible and very thing in between, that help us live through each day and give us memories to live with, tomorrow.