The first thing an Indian parent usually teaches his/her child is to shake his hand and say bye. ‘Bye Bolo Beta Bye!’ they tell him, as the confused kid takes an initiative to move his hand in a windshield wiper motion only to be amazed by the applaud that his act receives. The kid would not even as much as smile at you, yet because of the parental tuning, he inadvertently gives you a bye. Since then the kid carried into his adulthood, his perennial dedication to saying ‘Bye’.
Now think about this, you drop in to visit someone you know. The welcome and the ‘hello’ is always cordial, pleasing and definitely not overdone. Just letting you know that they are happy to see you after long. Now compare this warmth with the one that you receive while you leave. The byes start as soon as your buttocks leave the couch all the way till half a kilometer from their place. Small waves, big waves, tired waves, sleepy waves, just-for-the-heck-of-it waves, they give it all to you and they expect you to wave out of the car window, sometimes even jutting your head out, till their eyesight blurs. I do not understand this stuff.
My grandmother believes in crying for the whole community. I think she finds it inauspicious and inconsiderate to wave someone goodbye without her eyes brimming like the Seine river. There has to be emotions attached to every goodbye even if she doesn't know the person who visited. What she calls as acts of benevolent sentiment, might look to other’s as her cry for help, indirectly trying to let them know that we practice third degree torture on her. So much for bidding someone the good old goodbye.
Few days back, a family friend dropped by and just like every other family friend, he took over the television and stayed put on the couch till late evening. Anyone who tells someone to ‘consider this as your place’ was definitely trying to be Chandler Bing. Finally in the evening he decided to leave and my parents started their ‘Bye’ routine. “Bye! Phirse Aayiyega” my dad lies, while my mother churns out the “Bye!Milke bahut accha laga” as my grandmother looks straight up at the ceiling fan without as much as blinking in an attempt to bring out tears. As I stood simply smiling at the man finally leaving, with my right hand cautiously reaching towards the television remote, my Dad suddenly demanded “Bye bolo ungil ko!”, totally ignoring the fact that I am nearing my 25th year of existence. The man stepped out and my family kept on gargling on ‘bye’ until he was securely inside the confines of his Hyundai Eon. We continued to stand at the door waiting for him to start the ignition, when he decided to pick up a call. As my legs started the numbing game, I finally took the initiative to close the door and just then my Mother screamed “How can you close the door!!! Uncle is yet to drive away.” The door remained open till the man ultimately decided to keep the phone down and leave, but not until he was awarded a fresh set of whimsical ‘Byes’. The night was spent sleepless, thanks to the mosquitoes that had utilized the opportunity fruitfully.
I understand the emotions attached while bidding someone dear and near a temporary bye. We as Indians even believe in following our family member till the gate, even if he/she is just going to the local dispensary to as much as buy a pair of strepsils. But I do not understand this everlasting ‘bye’ that we render to someone who is just an acquaintance. The straining of the neck out of the car and stretching out your hand, just for some meaningless bye byes.
You might say that we are a hospitable bunch of people. But if you think about it, it simply looks like you are rejoicing over someone’s departure evidently more than their arrival. Atleast try not to make your joy so evident.
So if because of some catastrophic reason I decide to visit you, just give me a single bye and a kind nod. Don’t wait for me to cross the boundaries of your myopic eyesight to close the gates and go back inside.
But if you really want to go an extra mile, you can choose to do this.....
IMAGE COURTESY- happilyunmarried.com and proper utilization of Google.