Thursday, January 02, 2014

Considering Death

When I was 19, I had decided that I would kill myself when I am 40. I had decided that it would be a good time to die. You know, life begins at 40, so it cannot be a bad time to die. I was young then. Life looked enormously long and full of absurd possibilities.

Now I am 37, and I am flummoxed at the face of death, at its unapologetic inevitability. Now I know death is just round the corner, waiting for me. I cannot decide about it, it has already been decided. All I can do now is to wait.

Now I no longer think of my death. It would come. I am ready. I am immersed in life and I know this will all end one day, abruptly, without a minute’s notice. And by God, I am not worried about it.

But it is the death of other people I cannot reconcile with – death of family and friend, death of people I know. When I hear the death of a friend’s parent, I am aware of the possibility of my parents’ death. It is inevitable. It’s going to happen one day. I know it will be sooner than later. I know nothing on earth can prevent it. Yet, I am paranoid. I don’t know what I would do when the news finally reaches me. I live far away from them. I hope I am there with them when it finally happens. Perhaps I should keep aside some cash for an emergency plane ticket.

Sometime I think it would be easier if I died first. But it wouldn’t be fair on my parents.

My uncle, my father’s brother, died in November 10, 2013. He was 67. He died without having to spend in the hospital for more than two days. It was a good death, without much suffering. When the news reached me, I did not know what would be the right way to receive the news. I was sad. But I did not cry or anything. As the ritual demanded, I kept fast for three days and avoided fried stuff and non-vegetarian food for one week. Other than that?

On December 23, 2013, came the shocker. One of my friends in Guwahati is dead. A week back I had heard the news that he had met with a terrible accident. But death? He was 37, my age. He had the whole life ahead of him. You can still rationalize the death of an old person, but the death of a young man, at the prime of his life, how do you explain this sudden disappearance. I had a chat with him just 15 days back. Now that phone will never ring. Now I would never hear the voice again. How do I reconcile with it?

What do I do? What do I think? How do I mourn him?

If my friend was alive he would have said something profound, something intelligent. But for me, I am confounded. I just have the memories. I hope I continue to remember him.

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