On farewells

By Ninad Pundalik

It is that time of the year again, when I realise that change is inevitable, for the n-th time. I love meeting new people, especially people who work hard to live a life, not just survive. Over the past few years, luck has favoured me by putting me in the right places. The adage of a door opening for every closed door rings true though. The flip side of meeting new people has meant a steady stream of goodbyes to many people I have shared cherished moments with.

In the distant past, goodbyes always had a ring of hope attached. Friendships forged in school and college had an expiry date imprinted by the anvil itself. Everyone left the place at the same time, and nobody would be left languishing in the same walls, haunted by memories sweet and sad. We all knew that it was going to end one day but that it would be a very bright period. Recent musings proved that my expectations from friendships after college were not the same though. I missed a major fact, and that seems to have tinted my picture of farewells with a shade of moroseness and sorrow.

In what I know refer to privately as the yearly migration of freshers from the company, a few more faces and email addresses decided to jump the bandwagon, crossing continents for higher education, or just tech parks for more interesting opportunities. It took me a while to realise it, but I do miss some smiles, waves and conversations that I had taken for granted as part of my recent past. And once some people leave, others in the same group will never be the same too. There is a collective sadness that somehow never gets shared.

On another note, harried and hurried farewells at the airport entrance or the bus stop never hit home. There is something about seeing people fade away, standing in the doors of a railway, that is bound to give goosebumps. One of the few pieces of poetry that paint this picture really well, was penned by Sandeep Khare for his work with Saleel Kulkarni in Marathi, titled ‘He Bhalte Awghad Aste’ (हे भलते अवघड असते – This is pretty difficult). I hope I’ve done justice to it in this free form translation:

गाडी सुटली, रुमाल हलले, क्षणात डोळे टच्कन ओले
गाडी सुटली, पडले चेहेरे, क्षण साधाया ह्सरे झाले
गाडी सुटली, हाता मधुनी  हात कापरा तरी सुटे ना
अंतरातली ओली माया तुटुदे म्हटले तरी तुटे ना
का रे इतका लळा लावुनी नंतर मग ही गाडी सुटते
डोळ्यानदेखत सरकत जाते आठवाणींचा ठिपका होते
गाडी गेली, फलाटावरील नि:श्वासांचा कचरा झाला
गाडी गेली, डोळ्या मधल्या निर्धाराचा पारा फुटला


The kerchief flutters as the train departs,
A shadow of sadness hides behind a smiling face,
Intertwined hands shiver, refusing to let go,
The yearning strains, struggling to avoid the inevitable.
Why does the train invoke such compassion just before leaving,
Shrinking to the horizon, etching deep memories.
Emotions crumble once the train leaves the platform,
Leaving behind a flood of tears…