Monday, October 22, 2012

On Death

Death is the only incontestable truth of life. And perhaps that's why it is so difficult to deal with. Of all the things I have read, heard, and observed about death, the thing that stands out most is the short story from the last of the Harry Potter books, about the three bothers who conquered death.

Death is strange in its ways. Sometimes, it creeps up on us stealthily, suddenly; other times it takes a long painful time to manifest and finally claim the person it has come for. But either way, it leaves us feeling hollow and doubting the point of existence. Why must people we love have to leave us and vice versa? What is the point of forming relationships if - as Linkin Park have rightly pointed out - "in the end, it doesn't even matter"?

Why we live and die is an abstract question that perhaps nobody will ever have a clear answer to, but while we exist in this world, I guess the key is to make the most of it, to do the things that make us happy or give us a sense of purpose and fulfillment  And we have to do this without fearing death because it is an eventuality that will come to all of us, sooner or later. I know lots of people are scared of dying but somehow, I am not. I imagine my own death a countless times, especially when I'm crossing the road. I know that beyond this life, at the very least there is peace, which is surely not something to be afraid of. I try to imagine how my family and friends would react, and it makes me sad, because I don't want them to shed tears over me. I want them to be happy, always. Which is why I have learned to react to death of loved ones in a very calm way, because I am convinced that they would not want me to completely lose it and sob for them. People often perceive my reactions as cold or indifferent but they are not. I feel things inside and never see the need to make a big show of such private emotions. I will grieve in my own way, alone, I simply cannot lean on someone's shoulder and weep. I think grief or sorrow of any kind is best dealt with alone because only you can understand what you are going through and only you can make yourself come to terms with it and heal.

Of course, talking to people sometimes helps but I have never been the talking kind. I talk to myself more than I talk to others, which makes me sound like a psycho but is really not that bad. It is only through intrapersonal communication that you can understand yourself, and it is only after understanding yourself that you can attempt to understand others. When someone I love is bereaved, I really don't know what to do except be there if they need me for anything at all. I think death reminds us all about the fragility and temporary nature of life, and it should encourage us to do the things we feel like doing and not think too much about the consequences. Losing people has helped me realize that it is important to show your friends and family how much they mean to you. You never know when time runs out, so you might as well do the things that need doing and say the things that need saying. Because of all the negative emotions in life, regret is perhaps the worst one. As my very dear friend S says, "I'd rather regret having done something, than not having done it at all."

Do, pal ruka, khwaabon ka kaarvaan 
Aur phir, chal diye, tum kahaan, ham kahaan 
Do pal ki thi, ye dilon ki daastaan 
Aur phir, chal diye, tum kahaan, ham kahaan 

A song that reminds me of the transient nature of everything in life - from the movie Veer Zara, directed by the late Yash Chopra, founder of one of my favorite film production houses - Yash Raj Films.

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