Sinking in Your Silence — Farewell (2023)

Catrina Prager
5 min readJan 8, 2024
Photo: Soham Kandu

Much is said about the transactional nature of relationships — what do we want from other humans that’s making relationships so damn challenging? And of course, money, love, sex… all float straight to the top of the barrel, except really, in most cases, they’re just by-products of our most inane, most vulnerable longing.

What we want from a relationship is just… to be seen.

That doesn’t usually make it as a bona fide answer to “What do you want?”. Mostly because we’re scared it’s gonna sound pathetic. We carry with us this idea that we’re the only ones with that desire. That need. Maybe if we realized it’s buried inside all of us, we’d have an easier time of it.

Farewell — until we see each other again.

Afan (19) grapples with heartbreak as he embarks with close friend Kush (30) on a day’s trip to celebrate his upcoming marriage. Tensions rise, forcing them to confront their past and mend their bond, amidst their shared grief and hope for a brighter future. Farewell is a story of an intimate friendship between two men, exploring themes of masculinity within the context of people of colour, set in the UK.

Farewell is a 2023 movie made up of long looks, and even longer silences. In fifteen short minutes, it manages something other films fail at in two hours — capture something that’s real about the human condition.

When I sat down to watch it, my mind was kinda all over the place. I kept jumping from question to question — who are they? where are they going? what’s the relationship? — like we tend to, to keep ourselves from hearing the silence.

After a couple of minutes, though, I managed to tune out my intrusive thoughts, and really listen. There’s a mountain of things left unsaid buried between Afan (Samir Mahat) and Kush (Vishnu Krishnan). A broken bond that’s haunted by the grief, untenable and harsh, of a friend who leaves.

It was what drew me to the movie in the first place. If you ask me, we need more art talking about the deep, intimate bond of friendship (as opposed to romantic love). Because to have someone — maybe the only person who really sees and knows you — disappear suddenly, that’s a different kind of heartbreak, just as terrible as( if not more so)a break-up.

Bleeding all this time, or how we begin to disappear when nobody looks at us

Watching Farewell put me in mind of an old Lori Carson song, particularly the lyric that goes,

Have you been bleeding all this time?

It’s sung with such indescribable tenderness and genuine compassion for the person who’s suffering. It’s implicit that the singer is here now, and will help you. Stop the bleeding, hopefully.

Photo: Soham Kandu

That’s the look the older, more mature Kush gives heartbroken, sulking Afan. Hiding behind loud music and an edgy attitude, Afan’s grown accustomed, all bleeding and alone, to keep the world at arm’s length. And yet, here comes this person who says uh-uh, that doesn’t work with me.

Throughout the film, we see Afan’s mask crack and eventually fall as someone else, this loving, caring fellow human being looks at him head-on, and finally addresses the elephant in the room.

Who broke you? And do you really think you’ll stay broken forever?

The effect is returned when, discussing Kush’s own upcoming marriage, Afan says,

Well, at least now you won’t be alone anymore.

From an outside perspective, it seems a terrible, unfeeling thing to say to someone… albeit true. Perhaps the single biggest relief about marriage (or at least, the idea of) is that finally, we won’t be alone anymore. There’ll be someone to share in this complex, confusing mess that is life with us.

Except, as Afan puts it, the line’s not meant to be cruel or in any way hurt Kush. On the contrary, Afan speaks with such genuine compassion, possible only when you speak to someone close whose hurt is almost as painful and terrible as your own hurt.

While Afan’s recent failed relationship takes centre stage in this short, it’s implicit that Kush, also, has known suffering. That he’s bled and been so deeply, terrifyingly alone. That maybe, one can guess, it was Afan who saw him and helped stop the bleeding.

While you were gone… the things I wish you saw in my long stares.

When tragedy strikes, we often congregate and ask of another why nobody saw anything. How could we miss it? And it’s terrible, and heart-shattering, but so is the acute, muted agony of realising the people who are supposed to care about you aren’t seeing you. That the people you’re meant to lean on in hard times will willingly (and often quite gladly) obviate your suffering so as not to rock their own boat.

My favorite shot of the movie — I saw myself so much in that act of curling up, alone, clutching my own untenable sorrow | Photo: Soham Kandu

In some aspects, we live in a world more connected, more socially fruitful than ever before. And yet, how many, watching the movie, can say hand-to-heart that they have a Kush in their own lives?

Would your own friends force an unpleasant conversation, reach out when they see you sinking? Or would they just politely side-step any “real” talks in favor of the safe and mundane?

Time and again, I’ve found myself in a position of stark loneliness. A place where my obsessive thought was that someone of the people assigned to “my people” would see me, and see just how close I’d come to the bottom. We sort of just… assume that that would happen, but clearly, it doesn’t always.

Following a long absence, Afan is off-putting and confrontational towards his friend. Rightfully so. His every posture, his long, tense silences at the beginning of the film, all scream look at me; look what terrible thing happened to me when you weren’t looking.

I think we all want, at times, to scream that.

2023 was, for me, the year of the short movie. I can safely say many of my favorite discoveries were shorts, and Soham Kundu’s Farewell was hands-down the best of all. Few movies have managed to reduce me to tears while filling me with such a tender, wide-eyed sense of hope.

Thank you for reading. I recently released the second book in a fantasy trilogy. So chances are I’ll be talking about writing, among many other scatter-brained subjects on here. If that sounds like something you might enjoy, why not subscribe? It’s free.



Catrina Prager

Author of 'Hearthender'. Freelancer of the Internet. Traveler of the World. I ramble.