The art of saying Good Bye

December 31, 2016

No matter how acrimonious a relationship may be in private life or in the full public view of business….when one has decided to say good bye.

It’s best to do so with the spirit that simply says – I wish you well. I bear no grudges…and you have my word. I will do everything to keep the peace.

It doesn’t matter how the other side regards you or decides to react to such a move – what is important is you are able to convey in very clear and unambiguous terms your sincerity to keep to your word.

Even should one be humiliated in this process – it must absolutely be done.

As when one walks in…it is thru the front door and when one departs it should be thru that same portal and never by the back door.

What others may say thereafter about your final curtain act is of no consequence – you did it after all for yourself and not them – that’s the way….the only way to close a chapter. Even an acrimonious one…with a smile.

As the end is not really the end…it is simply a punctuation mark somewhere along the line in the endless circle of time.

It’s really just the beginning.


‘We stood there, looking at each other, saying nothing. But it was the kind of nothing that meant everything. In his eyes, there were a thousand stories tracing across darkness like a meteor shower…each momentarily gasping at life as if to say, look at me! Only to disappear into the folds of a thick velvety darkness that seem to extinguish everything….leaving not even a trace of what had happened and I could feel something inside me break….as I knew then and there. He meant every word the night before when he had whispered, ‘forgive me…I must go and be a farmer..I shall see you in my next life.’

The curious thing was I never got around to asking him – whether he actually believed in reincarnation. Or maybe I don’t have too. We spoke about it. Reincarnation that is. Not directly.

There was one time when he shared a story about how he was always bumping into this girl. Or maybe it was the other way round.

It began innocently enough. They would meet mostly in the MRT which probably doesn’t seem improbable given how tiny Singapore is – but it seemed they even met in park connectors as well. Usually in between East Coast Park and Changi village. And it seemed even when they were determined not to meet by each changing their routine…they found out about that later when they sat down for coffee – they were still brought together. By what exactly he didn’t say…only he did mention by that time, a quiet understanding had formed between these two strangers where whenever one would chance on another – they wouldn’t have to go thru the ritual of mutual embarrassment of having to freeze and look at each other with that OMG expression plastered over their two horrified faces. Instead they both settled for a sort of detente – like two cats turning the same corner only to lock gaze and eventually move on.

Instead each settled on the idea – it was just chance…it had to be…Singapore is after all just a very small place. That was their mantra whenever it happened.

On one occasion the girl actually stopped and confronted him – maybe she had enough or maybe she was just curious – why are you following me? She threatened to report him to the police. Even insinuated that he was some closet pervert.

But I am sure even she didn’t believe that – he was always impeccably well dressed. Hardly the sort to fit that moniker. Or maybe the bough had just burst and both had both probably exhausted all attempts at trying to find ever more inventive ways to avoid each other. Or maybe they had both given up on the idea that it might all have been just the roll of the dice of chance and serendipity….something else was at work…something that neither could possibly understand.

Anyway to cut a long story short – they sat for coffee at Han’s just outside Bugis library. What each hoped for in this one encounter was never quite explained – perhaps they were both filled with a mix of curiosity and trepidation to really know what’s actually furiously and mysteriously at work. Then again since none of them could really quite understand what accounted for this strange series of accidental encounters to ask whether it might have been something else besides magnetism like how both objects are brought together. No resolution was reached.

Anyway to cut a long story short – they both settled on an agreement of sorts where he would take only this or that train at this time and place while she would do the same in the hope that they would never meet again.

I think it was more important for her than him – as she was engaged to this guy, while he was already married with three kids.

For a while, he mentioned it worked. Till one day when they met again in Moscow terminal. Not any terminal, but one of those places apparently that’s like a millionth to one. Followed by three million to one Helsinki, five million to one Narita and I think one hundred million to one back in Moscow again. Till she finally confronted him again with the same ‘why are you following me…again?’ line.

By then I guess he had given the matter some thought – anyone would and his only explanation was they were somehow linked together by some karmic force in their last life. I don’t want to come across as metaphysical or even religious – because that wasn’t how he recounted it. But he did mention a book once penned by a bizarre Japanese author – Mishima who wrote an equally bizarre novel – the sea of fertility where the narrative was along such lines.

Can you imagine. They’re at a terminal on the other side of the world – and he’s reading chunks of that book to this girl. As if to tell her no matter what they each did to avoid the other – they would always come together and that it would continue to happen whether they liked it or not. That it’s even conceivable they may not quite understand how or why it should happen – but since it’s happening….it’s best to just let it run it’s course and not try to fight it.

Because whatever it was that impelled one towards the other was infinitely larger than both of them.

The girl listened of course. She might have believed it was all hocus pocus – but she stayed and listened. At that point I think they both reached an understanding that it was futile for one to try to avoid the other… was after all something they both couldn’t quite wrap their heads around. The implausibility of it all. Nonetheless, she read that book that he mentioned along with the others that came thereafter.

I think that finally broke the spell – neither he or she saw the other again. Not even when he or probably she wanted to see the other. Later on he mentioned. Walking the same routes he would normally chance on her like some 18th century flaneur to find that mythical line where their lives would intersect again…but try as hard as he did….he never saw her again. As for her…she probably did the same.

After all how many men do you know reads chunks of Mishima aloud at airports to bleary eyed women who think they’ve been followed around half way across by perculiar men?

Latter on when I asked him what was behind it all. He merely quipped. Maybe I owed her a moment of understanding in my last life…that was the same look I saw in his eyes that day when we held hands without ever saying a word to each other on the way to Changi airport – I will find you thru the infinity of the ocean of time…it has no dominion over me!

It’s been six coming to seven years since he left Singapore to be a farmer – believe it or not. I do still see him from time to time in the MRT. Just flashes. An image on the window, a passing blur….but it’s never for very long. Just enough like running your fingers over a tongue of a candle – but it’s never him…never.

I wonder whether it’s the same with him?’


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