The Ritual of Saying Goodbye

When it comes to saying goodbye, I think it is always harder for the one saying goodbye. So, on Monday when I waved my sister goodbye, I can’t help but feel that I am going to miss her, but I am Asian after all, and Asians shed no tears. We are efficient in our emotions, we hide all our angst. Sometimes I think we are worse than the British stiff upper lip concept because whilst the British just hide their emotions, we Asians pretend emotions do not exist (except for rage, since we love to rage on) and then we express all other emotions through tackiness.

The more emotional and repressed the Asian, the more tacky they are.

But I digress.

So on Monday night, my family and I made the journey to Changi Airport, Singapore to send off my sister. We rarely fly from KLIA these days due to our patriotic feelings towards the  Democratic Republic of Moolah (translation: it’s cheaper to fly via Changi than KLIA). I do like going to Changi Airport, it’s a little warmer than KLIA and there’s actually places to chill out at for a while.

We have a ritual when it comes to sending family off. We would head to Singapore at least five hours earlier than the flight time, because Dad is paranoid that we would be caught up in some sort of jam, or a moose escaping from Singapore Zoo  would cause a rampage on the PIE and we’d be late and we’d miss the flight. We would almost always have dinner in Singapore and almost always, it would be at Burger King. Which is as tacky as it sounds but as Asians, remember, tacky is good. Tacky equals emotion. Fine dining means we don’t really care much about you.

And it’s also because BK Singapore is better than BK Malaysia. It’s trufax.

And then we’d have Starbucks. Because again Starbucks Singapore is better than Starbucks Malaysia and it would keep the family awake until the sister’s flight leaves. We would talk, mostly of nonsense like I’d whine about how the old lady at the mosque thought I was still in High School and my sister would whine about missing the food in Asia. Occasionally, my dad would interject with a soft voice telling my sister to study hard. Work hard for your family in Asia. Which makes my sister a little teary-eyed until my brother punches her and reminds her how much better the country will be without her being around.

When it was time to go, the family would crowd around by the departure gate. My parents would hug her goodbye feeling all sad. And then it would be me and my brother’s turn to say goodbye. So what do two very grounded people do when their sister is going away for a long time and not necessarily coming back this year? We wave goodbye. I remember my Western friends making such a fuss about waving at people when they are RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU but seriously? What’s the alternative? Hugging equals emotions and we prefer to think that they do not exist. Handshakes are far too formal so waving is acceptable.

And then we would head back to our home in JB, crossing the causeway with one less passenger in the car. It feels more empty than usual so we would either tell each other jokes to lighten the mood or do something stupid like drive with the boot open at high speed on the highway to ignore the gaping void in our lives. We’d cross the Causeway, muse at the ever-changing rules of the Singaporean Immigration and mum would nag us about getting up early the next day so we could drive back to KL.

I would then go to bed later that night, with one light on because I think it’s really the best way to avoid Kyuko from Ju-on appearing from underneath my blankets and not because the room is suddenly much quieter without the ridiculous emo music blasting from my sister’s pc.


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