The link below is a song from the famous 1965 English movie, “Sound of Music.” The situation for the song is appropriate; there is a party going on at home, and the father expects the children to withdraw and go to sleep. I love this song; hence I am sharing the link for you.
In our lives, we also say farewell to people, situations, and homes. It is part of life and happens in the case of most of us. Sometimes we do so with knowledge, but sometimes we do it without realising it. The question will come in mind, “How do we do it without realising?” I did it without realising. After my first-year science year at Elphinstone College in Bombay, I moved to the college hostel at Churchgate in Mumbai. It was a natural recourse as my father was transferred outside Bombay. One beautiful day I entered the hostel, all bag, and baggage! Little did I realise that I had left my home, as I had known it forever. Our sister was married at that time, my parents, my elder brother, and I were our family. The same year my brother moved to the United States. So, the family, as we knew it, was reduced to only my parents!
I was all of 17 years old, and never realised the significance of my moving to the hostels. I completed my Inter-Science, moved from Elphinstone College Hostels to COEP Hostel in Pune. While in COEP I met Jaya, we got married after finishing my first degree and rest as they say is history. Did I realise the significance of moving to the hostel at Elphinstone College? Did I know that I will never go back “home”? Was I mentally prepared for that move? Was I mature enough to think in those terms? Honestly, I did not have that maturity; I did not have a clue! Studies were the last priority in those days, but we had a Parsee friend in hostels taking the Arts course; he made us study to ensure that we could get ourselves admitted to engineering courses. But we did have some students who had a tough time adjusting to life outside the warmth of their homes. I made one life long friend Sharad while at Telang Hostel!
In retrospection, did I miss something? Yes, of course, I did. I miss my father, especially as he died relatively early at the age of 63 when I was 31. I was busy setting up my family and my home. My father was a person who would call a spade a spade; this trait I have picked up from him. He used to like to pun, would make some while chatting, another trait that I picked up from him. I once remember him pulling legs of his younger brother, bhau. My uncle, bhaukaka, in those days used to wear hard contact lenses; once, he was having difficulty wearing them.
My father coolly told him, “Bhau, why do not you wear glasses first so that you will be able to see where you are putting your lenses”! I would have laughed wholeheartedly, but due to the respect of the elderly, I only smiled looking at my father. He was supposedly adamant outwardly, but Jaya and I had an excellent rapport with him. Jaya was the first professional lady working in our family, and my father was supportive of her, always. When Jaya received a UN scholarship for an MS degree in the US, she asked my father if she can take this opportunity. Our son was six years old at that time. My father told her, “What is there to ask? Just go. Why do you think we are here?” Unfortunately, he died within three months of Jaya going to the US. I was lucky that my mother lived to be with us for the next 25 years. When I ruminate about leaving home in 1966, I always feel that I missed out on my father’s company. But the “If-Else” scenario is a double-edged weapon. If I had not left home in 1966, then I would not have met Jaya!
Till the end of the first half of the last century, life was relatively straightforward, not as dynamic as today. One was born and brought up in a town or a village. He lived in the same home as ancestors, either owned or rented. Went to school, going to college was not quite common in those days. He took up some work that was available, married, procreated, and died. There was not much change in their lives. If at all there was any migration, only the breadwinner would move to a more significant town or city, but the family would stay behind. So, there were hardly any So Longs, Alvida or Sayonara!
My niece’s son got admitted to IIT ten years back. The day he was to move to IIT, we were with them in Bombay. I asked the kid, “Do you understand the significance of today?” He said, “Yes, I am joining IIT!” I said, “That is not what is important. Starting today, when you come to this place, which just now is your home, you will come with your bag as a guest. After your education, you will move elsewhere for further education. Then settle there and will get married and …..” I am sure if he reads this blog, he will remember what I had said. He works in Tesla in the US and is getting married in November!
In life, there are many other situations where “so long” situations come up. These are when you change your job when you retire, and another common situation that is coming up in people’s lives is divorce. In all these situations, the decision is not sudden. Yes, and we change homes too! I will share a small anecdote about home changing. A friend of my daughter met me once, and while chatting asked me where we lived. Then I told him about our home changes. He said, “You seem to be very cool about changing homes. My father still thinks of our Bombay home, which we left 30 years back, and he still feels unsettled.”
When you change jobs, it is an ongoing thing, and we generally know at least a couple of months before we change the position. Job change could result in a new job, starting your business, or moving to another country. In this situation, the relations that you have formed are not very deep, but for a small duration, we may feel a little uneasy. During one such job, I met a friend who became my life-long friend, Dilip; he unfortunately died last year. But such occurrences are infrequent. When you move to a foreign country, it is both an exciting and challenging call. Exciting for obvious reasons, but the tough call is because we are going to get cut off from our roots. Modern communication helps you reduce the distance, virtually, but there is no replacement for physical proximity. The “so long” is emotional because you are going to be far from your near and dear ones, your friends, and your daily smells and daily noises!
Even more challenging “so long” must be the case where couples divorce each other. Challenging situations are the reality of life and cannot be ignored. This number is increasing; during the process of divorce, the couples, I am sure, have a lot of hatred with each other. Then there will be aspects of money, children and many other vital aspects of life. So, I shudder to think as there may not be any “so long” after such a close relation!
The retirement phase, of course, must be a real emotional phase because you get cut off from whatever you were doing every day for 40 years, you get cut off from the very same people with whom you have been meeting day in and day out! I have now semi-retired, and I have gone through this phase recently. Everything else is manageable except the emotional part, but I think time heals everything.
Toughest, of course, is the final parting with this world! But there is a silver lining to this. You do not have to say “so long” as you do not get time to do so! You also do not know whether people miss you or they are happy that you are gone! 😊😊
Alvida, for now! Do not you worry; I am not going anywhere!