Its hard to say goodbye. Be it to someone you love or to someone who loves you. Be it to your pet dog or to your soft toys. Be it to your favourite pen or to your favourite show.
Its hard to say goodbye. Period.
Its easier when you know you’re going to see him again. When you have days to count down, calendar dates to cut off or even a glimmer of hope for a future together.
Its easier when there is a possibility of feeling that happy, ever again. Its easier when you know, somewhere deep down inside that you’re going to see him again. And those words, don’t just seem like wishful thinking or a petty consolation to a broken heart.
They feel real. And true.
And you end up adding that moment of reunion, months or maybe years later, to the list of times you told the Universe –“I told you so.”
Airports have always terrified me. There is that moment when you say goodbye to a loved one and watch him walk away, all the while clutching the metal rod that separates you, to stop your hands from shaking.
And theirs that moment, when you are tersely hovering around bumping into people every now and then, apologizing dishearteningly and waiting for him to show up, any moment now. You pray and wish things haven’t changed all while he was away and hope that things aren’t awkward when you reunite.
But finally, when he arrives and your eyes lock, across the airport, and you notice his slight stubble and over-grown hair –and wonder how it was possible that he was looking even more handsome than before –and he smiles at you, that boyish lopsided grin of his –that you know absolutely for sure, that all that worrying you’d been doing? It was a downright waste of time.
He was back. And that was all that mattered.
The best way to cope with goodbye is to console your broken heart that there will be a reunion soon. And that reunion, will be more than all those moments you had together.
But what if your heart is smarter than you think or what if your brain has already told your heart that it would be a fool to imagine anothing waking moment together?
What if, this is the final goodbye?
Its hard to say goodbye. Specially the ones you know are going to last.
So when he took a step towards me and held out his arms, I , instead of wrapping my arms around his neck and burying my face in the warmth of his chest –something that I would readily do –held out my arms in front of me, to prevent him from coming any closer.
He obviously did not see that coming and my hands landed squarely on his chest. The touch made my heart falter, but atleast at an arm’s length away, his scent would have less control over my senses, or so I figured.
“I’m sorry, I can’t do this.” I said cutting him off.
Instantly, his eyes softened at my words and I knew that he knew what I was talking about. That wasn’t a surprise and I’m sure it wasn’t to him either that those words were coming out of my mouth.
This time, I hadn’t taken any measures to hide my feelings or control my emotions. Infact I’m pretty sure that my disatisfaction with our unsteady relationship was pretty obvious, through out his entire trip.
“I’m tired, Marcus.” And I felt tears brimming in my eyes.
I wasn’t tired of him. I don’t think I could ever be. I was tired of not knowing what was going to be.
“Emma.” He implored. He looked down at where my hands were still splayed across his chest.
“If I have to do this one more time, I think I’ll break.”
He placed his hands over mine, which were now clutching his shirt.
“Going through this,” my voice broke, but still I went on, “again and again, not knowing if I’ll ever see you again. If I’ll ever be near you again.” I swallowed. “Its not as easy.” And then I couldn’t say anything more, because my entire body shook with suppressed emotion.
“Emma,” he said again, “How can I make this easy for you? What can I say to make this better? Tell me and I’ll say it. Tell me and I’ll do it.”
I wanted to say, don’t go. I wanted to say, don’t leave me. And as I looked into his eyes, I think he heard the words I never said, but he didn’t reply. He didn’t answer. He just stood there looking at me, waiting.
Waiting for what, I don’t know.
But I found myself waiting as well.
For a motion, a sign.
But it never came. As much as I prayed and pleaded, it never came. And finally after seconds of standing like that, I realised that stretching out the goodbye like this, was doing more harm than good.
“Marcus.” I said, in an unsteady voice. “I have to go.”
He hesitated, but then finally nodded.
I looked down at where his hand grasped mine and tried to pull away, but I couldn’t. I just couldn’t.
Marcus seemed to understand my plight and lifted his hands from mine. My hands, now no longer finding the support of his warm hands, fell to my side.
I knew that was the time when I should take a step back, turn around and leave. Leave and never look back.
But like before, I was unable to. My body seemed to have a mind of its own. Or maybe it was just my heart. Whatever it was, it was strong. And clearly dominating my unsteady self.
Marcus took a step back, doing what I was intending to do.
I couldn’t help but give a small, sad smile. This was supposed to be my goodbye. My inability to live with the unknown. My weak way out.
And yet, it was Marcus who was initiating it, because we both knew that if left upon me, this would take forever.
Or perhaps never happen.
I looked up, trying to see what he was thinking and saw that his eyes were glazing with unshed tears.
And that was the end of all self-control.
With a sob that came from my very soul, I flung myself at him, not caring that his luggage fell to the floor or that people had begun to stare. All that mattered now, was never letting go, contrary to earlier, when it was to say goodbye and get it over with.
Marcus let his shoulder bag fall to the floor as he took me in his arms and buried his face in my hair. We held each other in such a tight grasp, that it would have hurt, had the excrutiating pain of goodbye not made us numb.
He pulled back slightly, but only so that he could cradle my face with his hands. He held me there for a few seconds, and I thanked God, that we had chosen a rather secluded place to stand. His eyes were red, and I figured so was mine. But as his lips descended on mine, the only thought that raged my mind was –Marcus.
He kissed me, once, softly and slowly, and I wanted nothing more than to keep going on. Then he broke away and kissed my cheek, my temple, my forehead, my eyelids, my nose, my other cheek and then my lips again.
But this time, the hunger and desperation was there. The desperation that was plaguing the both of us. The desperation that was the reason for our crying, panting and clutching.
The desperation to take in as much as we could, because very soon, not much would remain. The desperation to remember every single detail, memories every last breath, because this was what would keep us happy and warm and content, in a cold bed, all alone, in the middle of unfamiliarity.
The desperation to hold onto to what we knew.
I don’t know when we broke the kiss. I don’t know what made us and I certainly don’t know why. But we did. And then we stood there, with my head on his shoulders and his, resting atop my hair.
After I was absolutely sure that I was steady enough to pull back, without bawling at the idea of letting go, I raised me head and looked at him.
He tilted his head to look at me, a small smile playing at his lips.
“I think that was what I needed.” I whispered.
“That was what I needed too.” He kissed my forehead and loosened his arms around me. I stepped back, withdrawing my arms from around his neck. But I still wasn’t ready to completely let go, so I placed my hand atop his, which was at my waist and squeezed tightly.
He turned his hand, to make his palm face upwards and intertwined his fingers with mine.
“Should we go?” He asked.
I nodded. He picked up his shoulder bag and the suitcase and still holding onto my hand, began to walk towards the luggage counter.
“Are you late?” I whispered.
“I don’t think so. Actually, we arrived early, so now we’re right on time.”
“Oh, that’s good.”
He got his luggage scanned and his boarding pass, and right before he entered Security Check, beyond which I could no longer go, he turned to me, with a smile, both weary and light.
“This is it.” He said.
“So it is.”
“How are you?”
“Not okay. But –”
“But?” He asked when I paused.
“But as long as you’re miserable too, its okay.”
He laughed aloud at that and I smiled, because I had forgotten how happy his laughter made me.
“Well, I’m miserable.” He said, trying to lighten the mood. “Very miserable.”
“I can see that.”
“I love you.
“Good. Because I love you too.” I bit my lip, debating whether I should ask what I wanted to, when he said –
“Tell me.” And he squeezed my hand, warmly.
“Will I see you again?”
He stilled, clearly not expecting that. A flurry of emotions played before his eyes, before it finally settled on love.
“Do you trust me?”
I nodded. “Yes,” I whispered.
“Then you will,” He pulled me close. “You will.”
After that, we said a few more words, and he left.
I stood there watching him for as long as my eyes would permit. But when he was no longer in sight, I turned my back to him and walked towards the exit.
And I found that I could smile.