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#Opinion: The Theory of Goodbyes – By Ucheoma Onwutuebe

#Opinion: The Theory of Goodbyes – By Ucheoma Onwutuebe


Goodbyes are difficult when you are the one who made room for the welcoming. Goodbyes are tough if you have been the patron of the invitation; if you were the one who threw your doors and your arms open at the arrival of another.

Goodbyes are difficult when the ones who want to walk away shy from speaking the reality of their minds, when they evade saying point-blank the truth in their hearts because they feel you are too fragile to handle it. You try in vain to pry their mouths open like groundnut shells so they can speak their minds, yet to no avail. And you watch them endure silently, shrouding their real feelings in heaves and sighs and you have to rely on second-hand information that confirms to you that everything is not quite right.

Goodbyes are difficult when the throbbing hole of a new vacancy pulsates your whole being and you are tempted to find prosthesis in another for the gapping hole an absence has created on your insides.

Goodbyes are often remorseless. Inexplicable. Things may be pitch-perfect but you are oddly dissatisfied. The food was perfect. The baby did not cry too much. The bed was soft yet firm enough to bear our rocking weight….but he will stay no longer than this. Why? He doesn’t even know.

Goodbyes are tough when we have made too much room for someone in the presumption that they have come to take permanent residency in the quarters of our hearts. The Mills and Boons we read in our teenage years gave us a warped notion of love and do not tell us that most people are emotional nomads who were not built with enough staying power.

Goodbyes are difficult when you have a play list created for a lover; when he ruins all those beautiful songs for you. When you have to turn off the radio when John Legend sings ‘All of Me’.

It begins with the first Hello: the letting in of another into the chambers of your life, their attentive ears to your woes, the empathy to your gaffes, the humour they find in the tales of your adventures.

You watch you and your lover go from no name basis to pet name basis and sadly back to first name basis. And in each concurrent affair , you have to christen another “Baby”. That is why I gave up on pet names and endearments. That is why they do not hold water for me again. Everyone who is “Nkem”, “Darling”. ‘Baby’ today become Charles tomorrow. The transitioning is almost painful for me.
When people walk away, they do not always walk through doors. They walk away through calls left unanswered, the late and curt reply of a text that you’ve been waiting on. When the magic dies in their eyes like candles snuffed out by the wind. When they show up late for a date and they sit through it like bored school children waiting for the bells to chime and for the teacher to say, “School dismiss…..” You can hear goodbye when the phone goes unanswered and minutes later the dialing tone (or caller tune) still sings in your head.

When a lover drifts, he reminds me of my favourite uncle who nodded disinterestedly at my water colour paintings. My infantile indulgences which I invited him to could not lure him away from his depression. He had submitted his CV to different firms and the papers were collecting dust and the secretaries were wiping their babies clogged nostrils with them. My mother began to complain he was eating too much food and using too much water. But my main worry was that my Uncle would not deign to appraise my water colour cartoons.

But goodbyes must not be filled with drama even though they could be surprising. No matter how difficult, no matter how tough, when someone wants to walk away, I open the door. I could make some persuasions, say to them, Wait a little, it’s raining outside. Take shelter here with me, Wait for the rain to subside. But when they are bent on walking away, I step aside. No dramas. Shade is not necessary, neither do I go on swaggering and screaming ‘Good riddance’, if I do not mean it.

I am like the TV or radio host that welcomes her guest with much enthusiasm, who has a time frame to hold a topic and when it’s time up, she let’s the guest go till next time.
But most times, Goodbyes are not final. I am full of faith and I leave the door open in hope that some stray folks would find their way back home.

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