When it’s time to say good bye, what does your heart do? Does it skip a beat, or go on beating normally? Does it make you physically sick, or does its pounding, drown the world around you? These two simple words, so self explanatory, with touch of prayer in them, seem light and breezy, but play the chords your heart, in such a different way. You may think, when does one feel these myriad emotions, it’s just a miserable feeling all together. But zipping through your mind like a flash of lightening, these nameless emotions are what agonise you, when time comes, to say good bye. Recently, we were travelling abroad, but the children were staying home, due to their various educational obligations. As always, traveling without them stresses me out, and I rather feel like a programmed robot moving towards its target. So with these undercurrents of unease wafting through my mind, I stood waiting at the departures, when my eyes met with a farewell scene that felt familiar to my heart. A father had come to see off his daughter and grandchild, the three of them were moving towards the entrance. On reaching, he quickly and quietly said goodbye to his daughter and grandchild. The daughter didn’t linger either, she moved forward, without looking back, holding on tightly to her child’s hand. The young one would, from time to time look back and wave, the grandfather would do the same, with a gentle smile on his face that didn’t reach his eyes. The father who on coming had looked so strong and tall, suddenly looked sad and empty. He drooped like a sad little flower and looking his age. His demeanour said it all, “you are my heart, but I set you free to go back to your life. Even though my heart feels as heavy as lead, but I give you back your wings, to fly to your nest. “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you. And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you” The daughter on the other hand didn’t look back, her shoulders stiff and her walk quick paced, something about her whole stance said” if I look back, I will never be able to move forward. I will always be your little girl, holding on to your hand, never wanting to let go.”The pact between parent and child, to never look back, never linger on, until at a safe distance, continued till she walked completely out of sight with one last wave goodbye. At that, he turned around and started walking back to the car park. The forlorn expression on his face, as he headed back to his empty car, chocked me up, making me want to give him a hug, and say it’s going to be alright. Somebody once wrote an article in readers digest, and my father trying to explain something about parenthood, posted it to us in our monthly letter, that we received in the boarding school. Each point in it started with “until you become a parent you won’t understand “, and then went on to explain why. At that age, we did read and understand the English of it, but not the meaning. Today I understand each word, as though it comes from my own very heart. Just in the same way, saying goodbye is always hard, but saying goodbye to your child ties you up in knots, because it matters to the heart. This is someone, who took life hearing the beat of your heart, and when you see them walk away, it’s as though part of it left with them. This is not to say that you don’t want them to take wing or make their own niche in the world. It’s just that matters of the heart, are at best, in-explainable. At such moments, I always revert back to the great poet Khalil Gibran, seeking solace from his poem, from his famous book The Prophet. When a woman with a baby in her arms, asks him to speak to them of children, I will quote a few stanzas and I am sure it will capture you in a way that you will search the poem and read it to the end. It explains the inexplicable, in such a profound and earnest way that you cannot but find the end, to seek the solace for your own soul, when the time comes to say goodbye. “Your children are not your children They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you You may give them your love but not your thoughts, For they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.” Published in Daily Times, March 31st 2018.