Tuesday, 2 April 2013

On Death and not knowing, 'What Next?'

Death is a great leveler. It closes potholes, smooths bumps and writes the closing chapter of each autobiography. We fear death because we do not know if there is anything beyond it. We are afraid to let go of the familiar. We are afraid to end our story or that of an important character in our book of life. We do not celebrate death as we should, instead cringe and cower at mere mention of it.

Death is never sudden. It takes us by surprise because we don't want it to come.

My professor who died young because of his consumptive habits used to, like a prophet of doom, scowl at us and thunder from the dias, "Death is the only reality of life." We thought he was drunk and rambling, which he was - most of the times - but, he was right.

Shaken by the death of a close friend's mother last year, a lady who loved me like her own and of several other parents of friends, I told another friend that I'd be happier to go before my own parents. 'I do not think that I can take their passing away'. He was polite enough to hide his shock of this declaration because he knows me well. He calmly said, "that is the most selfish death wish ever made."

Yes, it would be and a coward's wish at that.

There is no conning death.

I was reading the blurb of an Indie book recently and was stuck by its bizarre plot about 'Seducing Death'. The girl in question NEEDS to live and so, when she meets death suddenly one fine day and finds out that it's come to claim her, she decides to seduce it with promises of love and wild sex. It was beyond bizarre and obviously had found no publisher.

Jokes apart, I have seen enough people sparring with death and prolonging the final moment often prolonging the suffering of the ones they love. It is much more sensible to accept it as a reality and not be swayed by its fear.

However, that does not mean that we should not try holding death off till we are well and ready for it. We need time. We always need time to put things in order. We are never ready for death. We always think, it is a long way off. And then, it sneaks up on us, leaving us inconsolable.

It is a dark place when someone passes on. The emptiness seems universe deep. But, over time, one gets to accept death as an inevitability. I now go to funerals and pray for the family and friends of the person who has moved on and seek peace for the soul. In my mind it has become a fact. It is something that NEEDS to happen.

Nature teaches us about death as pattern or a cycle. Autumn, dries up and kills everything. Winter is hard and bitter. We miss the warmth and the greenery. But then comes Spring. New life emerges and the world becomes beautiful, green becomes the base and shows off hundreds of other colors in the blooms that take over the Earth. It is a time to celebrate birth. Summer is the time for action, it resembles life. We need to finish all our tasks during Summer. It often burns and singes us but, so does life. Autumn is as inevitable as Spring and we need to remember that at all times.

Death is a part of the rhythm of life and it follows a pattern. Most of us miss the pattern that is visible right from the day we are born. Death is the only truth. I lost a brother a few hours after birth but, I never gripped the truth - not even when I saw my mother grieving silently over a child she had never had the opportunity to hold in her arms for many years. I was too young and my parents too protective. It was never discussed openly. In time I got used to her silent tears.

Now, I wish it was discussed more openly. It would have been a great opportunity for me to accept death when it struck my loved ones and left empty spaces in my life. Not discussing it then, made me a coward and made me weak. It also made me feel like the Colossus or an immortal. Death always seemed far away. Till it stuck those I loved and cared about.

I wonder at times, if death will come as a swift and sudden attack like an enemy bent on rushing me off kicking and screaming or if it would be a welcome friend come as a relief from all the troublesome choices I have made in this life?

It may come as one or the other but, while it lurks in some dark corner waiting for me to finish my time, I must clear my desk everyday and not leave anything important for tomorrow like, telling people who love and appreciate me, how much they mean to me.

Death is the vigilante lurking around us reminding us to not take time for granted. So, wash your hair and paint your toes. After all, don't you want to go looking your best?

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