Of tigers and quick departures

Richard Parker

I suppose in the end, the whole of life becomes an act of letting go, but what always hurts the most is not taking a moment to say goodbye. -Life of Pi.

I sat quietly, pensive, at hearing those words. Piscine Patel was sharing his story about that fateful day Richard Parker, his tiger companion in the shipwreck, left him for good without even looking back and saying goodbye. Like he had no recognition of him, his existence, no awareness that he was leaving someone behind. He just left and went his way. Yeah, tigers do that, huh?

And then it made me think about how sometimes, this happens to us, too. How often we leave a situation, a person, an event, without some form of closure, without an actual goodbye. It could be that, like Mr. Parker, the way I see it, we don’t intentionally leave. After being shipwrecked for 7 months, the first thing Mr. Parker does is to relish the fact that he is on familiar territory and wants a return of some normalcy in his life: roam the island, scavenge for food, and then come back when it’s time. Was he even aware he wasn’t going to see Pi anymore? That that was their actual farewell, their last meeting?  How do you say goodbye when you’re not even aware it’s time for it? Loss of a loved one, loss of friendship, death in the family —do these quick departures ever prepare anyone?

Or it could be exactly what Pi said, about not taking a moment to say goodbye. intentionally. Why did Mr. Parker leave without a thought or even a glance towards Pi? What made him just move forward? Perhaps it’s for the exact selfish reason we don’t say goodbye to certain things, certain people. We just don’t have a good enough reason to.

Maybe it’s best to think our departures are not going to hurt people. If it leaves anyone heartbroken –will we ever know? There’s my answer to you.

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