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Two goings and a funeral in a cruel week of goodbyes Filed on August 31, 2020

If saying goodbyes is very, very hard then what's perhaps tougher is to accept the goodbyes and move on

There's fire, there's smoke, and then there's Chadwick Boseman standing tall and staring you in the face, as the dust settles and the smokescreen slowly fades, in a taut vibranium suit on top of a distant hillock. "I never yielded and, as you can see, I am not dead," he asserts next, having risen like the phoenix from the ashes in the now iconic scene from Black Panther.  

I am yet to watch the Marvel epic in its entirety and with Chadwick Boseman's death on Friday (early Saturday here), the pain of missing out on the movie while he lived, is now inexorable. In fact, I regret not catching the Oscar-winner earlier when it released in 2018. Yet, like millions around the world, the legacy of Black Panther and of Boseman, who played the first prominent African superhero in mainstream American comics to perfection, has swept me off my feet too.  

And since the news of his death broke, I have now played this particular little clip several times over just to remind myself once more how T'Challa was not just the king and protector of the mystical Wakanda but also the voice of hope and resolve for millions of Black people and the oppressed even before the world leisurely began to realise that black lives, or any life for that matter, actually mattered. And that global outpouring showed in the tweet from Boseman's verified Twitter account announcing the actor's death and hailing his fighting spirit. With over 6.6 million likes and counting and another 2.1 million retweets (at the time of writing), it became the most-liked tweet ever in what Twitter called "a tribute fit for a king". The closest to this was the one by Barack Obama in 2017 that included a Nelson Mandela quote, liked more than 4.3 million times.  

If Boseman immortalised iconic black characters including Jackie Robinson, James Brown, and Thurgood Marshal besides Black Panther, he now epitomises the very identity of millions in death. And for them, myself included, the cross-armed Wakanda forever salute will now live on even as I, like the rest of the world, mourn his death in a cruel week riddled with other departures and goodbyes.  

First came Lionel Messi, arguably the greatest footballer on earth (by some standards) and Barcelona's most decorated player, with his explosive news of departure from the club. Then came the news of Shinzo Abe announcing that he would resign as Japan's longest-serving PM because of poor health. That's two goings and a funeral in one week, leaving the world a lot less settled for sure.  

In Japan, this comes at a time when the economy has taken a historic plunge and the coronavirus is threatening to force a second postponement of the Olympics. With no obvious successor to Abe, who is leaving office a year early amidst rising labour shortages and a shrinking population, the country's no less messier than Barcelona where fans have gone on a rampage since learning about Messi's will and desire to leave the Catalan club. Hundreds last Tuesday flocked to the Nou Camp, where Messi plied his trade for 17 years, to protest against how the board handled their legend. Clearly, for the heartbroken faithful of Barcelona, it's not time yet to say goodbye to their king just like how it is for the people of Wakanda for who Black Panther can never be really gone.  

So how do you say your goodbyes? Is it usually always a wavering teary-eyed farewell? Or is it a firmer, more resolute handshake and/or a hug to affirm yourself that you have reconciled with the new departure? I am curious because even after saying several goodbyes - some planned, many unexpected - I still haven't quite mastered the art and I doubt I ever will. If saying goodbyes is very, very hard then what's perhaps tougher is to accept the goodbyes and move on. And this week served us another cold reminder through two goings and one funeral.



Abhishek Sengupta

Abhishek is the head of multimedia at Khaleej Times and has worked in radio and television channels before joining UAE's first English daily. Semi-skilled in breaking news and storytelling for visual and print media, he feels he is more comfortable talking than writing. A food and travel enthusiast, he is always busy making itineraries when not producing videos for Khaleej Times.

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