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He loved goodbyes!
‘He’ or “Abhi” as his father had named him. His father had said “Not Abhi-k or Abhi-sek or Abhi-jit or  Abhi-roop  just Abhi, short, sweet without any baggage”.  Abhi’s father was in Army and would go away to the border for long periods of time.  He missed his father but the best part of his father’s leaving home for duty was saying good bye to his dad. He loved the railway stations, the ambience there, the chugging away of the trains thrilled him to no end. Once during vacations Abhi’s dad had arranged a trip to the hills where Abhi’s dad was posted. Abhi was really excited by the idea of travelling by train like his dad. But he was utterly disappointed when no one had come to say goodbye to him and his mother.  Family for Abhi meant his mom and Dad. Abhi’s parents had married against the wishes of his grandparents so their respective families had cut-off all relations from them. Hence there was no one to see them off at the station when they left for the hills.  But all his disappointments and heartbreaks melted the moment the train entered the destination station. His dad was there, waiting at the platform with a huge smile and open arms to receive them.  Those fifteen days were one of the best in Abhi’s life and while returning the goodbye was grand as his dad’s colleagues had come to see them off with a number of gifts for him and most importantly his dad was coming home with them.  That day little Abhi had decided he would join the Army like his dad and work in the hills. Dreams, ambitions and lives are shattered by war. In one such war Abhi’s dad had returned home in coffin wrapped in country’s flag. He was still very young to understand the final goodbye he had so say to his father when he lit the pyre. But seeing his mother’s stony silence he realized, that he will never be able to join the Army.
As we know life doesn’t stop or slow down, Abhi too was growing up rapidly as per the nature’s rules. In the process he had made many friends but one among them was his best mate. Sundar was a back bencher like Abhi and that’s how they became close. They would bunk school and go to the sea shore and wave goodbyes to the passing ships.
Abhi remarked one day “I envy those sailors” popping 3-4 peanuts into his mouth and passing the paper bag to Sundar.
“Yes! I wish I could be one” Sundar replied.
“To be a good sailor you need to study, study really hard, boys” a voice remarked from behind breaking into their conversation.
Abhi and Sundar startled by the voice, turned to find out the source.
An old man was smiling at them.
“Sorry boys broke in like this but take it from a retired sailor, go to school and study hard, and then one day you’ll see yourself captaining a ship into the oceans” said the old man looking far away into the sea.
The old man’s word had magical effect on the boys and they went back to school and never bunked classes again. A few years later, one day, they were back at the port. Sundar in a sailor’s uniform and Abhi was there to send him off.  No, Abhi couldn’t become a sailor, his mother was very ill and he couldn’t leave her alone in that state. So he took over his mother’s Gift Shop. But he was happy for Sundar. When Sundar’s ship set sail Abhi had waved to him and uttered “Goodbye my friend, do  keep sending postcards of the lands you visit”.
Abhi with his hard work and ingenuity had expanded the gift shop and in a short period his shop was the best in the city.  But his mother’s deteriorating health kept him concerned.  Her memory was wiping off progressively, initially she used to forget names, then she forgot faces including Abhi and finally she couldn’t do basic day to day operations. He helplessly watched her losing herself. One night she fell off fatally from her bed. Abhi didn’t even get a chance to say his final goodbye to her.
Life couldn’t be all that harsh with him. He met Suzanne in his shop; she had come to his shop looking for gift for her kid brother. Abhi helped her in deciding a perfect gift. They kept meeting often and steadily they became very close. Finally Abhi proposed to Suzanne and she accepted. They got married soon and when they were setting off for honeymoon, Abhi was overwhelmed by huge set of Suzanne’s family and friends at the railway station bidding them goodbye, as the train rolled out of the platform Abhi waved at the crowd.
Indeed he loved goodbyes!

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