Knowingly or unknowingly we all think of death and how it might come to claim us. Quite natural. But there are some of us who anticipate it every time thus losing out on the present scenario called 'living.' This post was gradually born when I was in the midst of a lecture on British Literature. The resource person is a retired professor of Literature and a charming old man. But I noticed that many times in the course of his lecture, he invariably spoke of death. He told us about a man who travelled with him the day before in train but died due to cardiac arrest this morning. And after that, he remarked: "What if I die the same way today?" While adjusting the microphone's volume, he would say: "What if there is a shock and I die?"
I quite agree that for a man of his age, death is something that constantly niggles the mind but to anticipate it all the time is a bit unnerving. It is a fact that everyone who comes into this world must go, but why waste the precious moments thinking of something that will anyway come.
At this juncture, I would also like to cite another example. There is a man who serves as a gate-keeper in our University. He happened to chat with us a few days ago. He is a man who has retired from the Army. What he told us never left my mind: "The life in Army was wonderful. Even though death was always lurking, it was a great life. Now there is nothing left. Life has become boring." His words stuck me. Imagine always living in the shadow of death! There might be a bomb-blast or a bullet-rain anytime. But that man was very happy. In fact, he even has a bullet wound on his shoulder and left thigh but it has not deterred him. He finds civilian life boring! What a contrast between the old professor and the retired army gate-keeper.
I often think of death and the various things associated with it. In fact I have even imagined my own death with people saying things like: "Even yesterday, she was having coffee with me and talking about D. H Lawrence!" Well, so much so for death.
Let me pause with a lovely poem on death by John Donne:
Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not soe,
For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill mee.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.
So, do you ever think of death? Does it scare you or does it seem like an extension of life in another form? Would love to hear your thoughts.
Poem courtesy: Internet