Remona Aly
Monday 30 December 2019 BBC Radio 2

The Long Goodbye

The Long Goodbye

The Long Goodbye

I had some city slicker friends over for the weekend and dragged them on a two-hour muddy walk for a taste of village thug life. Then I plied them with a conveyor belt of food and snacks until they pleaded with me to stop – I just don’t know if there is another way of Asian hosting.

When it was time to say our goodbye salam, we hugged, walked out to the car, took some selfies, opened the car doors, began another conversation, shut the car doors. An hour and 38 minutes after their initial planned departure, they finally drove off. 

This is what I like to call the long Muslim goodbye. It often takes place in a corridor and might result in another cup of tea for the road. Parting really is such sweet sorrow that we stretch out the time like an elastic band, just to be together that little bit longer.

As we enter the last days of 2019, it’s not only the end of a year, it’s the end of a decade. For me, it’s been a decade since I lost my dad, and it’s been a long goodbye to him. The last ten years have also seen a farewell to my thirties, an adieu to dire dating apps, but still I give my long goodbye kiss to this decade. Not to forget what is past, but to reflect forward with a different perspective. 

For it’s been a decade of births too, of little buds of joy giving new life to my family tree. Of learning that even when your heart can break, your soul can bloom. That unexpected promise is always around the corner, and that memories never leave.

 “Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes,” said Rumi, the 13th century Persian Muslim poet. “Because”, he continues, “for those who love with heart and soul there is no such thing as separation.”

I will learn to love with my heart and soul, and not just my eyes, so that goodbyes aren’t really goodbyes. Having said that, I’m ready for more extended ‘tarrahs’ in the corridor, so if I’m ever around your house and say I’m about to leave, don’t get my coat for at least another hour.