By Neel Anil Panicker
I have a confession to make. I hate farewells. Farewells are meant for those whom you would never meet, ever again. At least that’s what I make of it. I have a morbid fear of farewells. I guess it dates back to my childhood. As a child we were visited (which, I believe would be the case with all others) by a horde of relatives and people close enough to make our hearts glow. Coming from a large diaspora, our family links extended far and wide, across the length and breadth of the country. A few from even abroad. Once I remember back when I was barely ten or twelve, we had gone to our hometown in far off Kerala. It was the annual summer one and half month regimen we religiously undertook to our ancestral home. I always looked forward to these trips as it meant not only a welcome break from studies but also brought in the exciting prospect of bonding with a teeming multitude of cousins__first, second and even thrice removed. Within ten minutes of our train halting at Kollam station and thereafter within five minutes of arriving at our tharavadu, I was deluged by the soothing presence of young ones who made sure I was never alone and I practically lived, breathed, bathed, ate, and even slept alongside them.
Off we would go at the crack of dawn, a merry bunch of pre-teens, our feet traversing past lush green paddy fields, running past old men who lay half drunk beside languid backwaters smoking weed and throwing distant aimless stares upwards, their cataract spoiled world weary eyes piercing through the leafy partitions of sky high coconut trees that dotted every single inch of the limpid blue horizon.

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