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An elegy on death

An elegy on death
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Death is a signpost for some; deliverance for others; an opportunity; revenge. A A negotiator to settle accounts. Death for some is a fulfillment. An...

Death is a signpost for some; deliverance for others; an opportunity; revenge. A A negotiator to settle accounts. Death for some is a fulfillment. An escape. An attainment: siddhi Death asked life, "Why everyone hates and fears me, but love you?" Life replied, "Because I am a beautiful lie, but you are an unwanted and painful truth". Death is a cruel epitaph to an otherwise flowing nectar called life. The other day two girls visited Hyderabad to watch a movie. A bomb detonated suddenly in their vicinity. One girl died. The other one, who was dreaming of becoming the breadwinner for her hapless parents, who were beedi workers, lost her leg and is fighting for her life in a hospital; a father was dreaming of getting his daughter married in two months. His life was suddenly extinguished in the mindless orgy. He died leaving his mother, wife and three daughters. The husband of the famous story writer D.Kameswari, a Superintendent Engineer D.V.Narasimham of Odisha, once told me an instance of interesting twist of destiny during his college days. He was studying in Banaras. His friends were travelling home for vacation. They were enjoying the journey, playing cards. This gentleman wanted to have a cup of tea. He got off at a station. When he was sipping his tea, he suddenly found the train moving. He ran to catch his compartment, missed it and got into another. A while later, there was an accident and all his friends in the compartment in which he was travelling a while ago perished in an accident. It was not the bogey but the death that he missed. Whenever I pass through the Paradise complex at Secunderabad (it was once a theatre) - I cannot help recollecting an incident. This happened some 50 years ago. I was in Hyderabad during those days. The proprietor of the theatre, I was told, wanted to catch a train, but just missed it at Secunderabad. He was so frantic that he chased the train to Janagaon and boarded it. Only a few minutes later, there was an accident and he died. It was not the train he chased, but his appointment with death. Death is a signpost for some; deliverance for others; an opportunity; revenge. A negotiator to settle accounts. Death for some is a fulfillment. An escape. An attainment: siddhi. The famous play, Nobel Laureate Jean Paul Sartre's "No Exit'', starts with a protagonist saving another from a certain suicide attempt. This man is irritated and chides him: "How dare you think that I will be happy by living?'' or something to that effect. That we are condemned to live is the axiom of Existentialism, a philosophy propounded by Jean Paul Sartre. But, surprisingly, many persons do not realize that there is a way that man can outlive death. Tyagaraja, Beethoven, Graham Bell, Thomas Alva Edison, Newton, Ramanujam have demonstrated the truth. Surprise still is the fact that some of these people lived for mere three decades: Jesus, Vivekananda, Sankaracharya and Ramanujam. It is not the extent but the depth of one's life, not how long but how well that makes a person immortal. We hear about people trying to terminate lives to settle accounts, making an excuse of their religion, fame or even personal benefit. In the words of famous novelist Irving Wallace "�We have any number of nonentities who come, stay briefly, and are blown away into nothingness, forgotten and unremembered as the flying sands on a windswept beach.'' Geographical time is beyond the comprehension of the human mind. For instance, the land mass at South Pole, Gondwana as it is called, started drifting by climactic pressures and slowly divided into different continents. In Telugu they were symbolically named 'khandamulu' (Asia khandamu, Africa Khandamu, etc). This is a process that happened in approximately 180 million years. The earth is drifting even now. In Africa, across Tanzania to Lebanon the earth is slowly drifting. The drift can be seen now. It is famously called the Great Continental Rift. In a few million years from now, perhaps Africa will become two separate continents with sea caving in between them. Compared to this, man's life is a laughable miniscule- of 50 years, 60 years. In this very small space of his existence, a few luminaries made this earth worth living while certain others are destroying life around them madly in mindless violence. Lacking a sense of humility? Lacking understanding of the limitation of his existence? Basic culture? It was the famous writer Mark Twain who said: "I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it." He believed in reincarnation! Bringing forward his past karma? So be it. But what about those who make life inconvenient, not conscious of its limitation? I can never forget the prophetic words of that German playwright Bertolt Brecht who said "Do not fear death so much, but rather the inadequacy of life. Death is an alarm signal. It reminds us of the inadequacy of our understanding. It makes our lives crunched each time we interfere with it". Death is a basic necessity of humankind; it consistently and blissfully eliminates Hitlers while nervously and thankfully immortalizimg Mahatmas all the time. Death is a leveller. Death makes life timeless and lasting. Death is the ultimate elixir of life. Any number of visionaries are musing on death because death has been an ancient enigma and a favourite muse for many in many centuries. To quote famous German philosopher Schopenhauer, "It is clear that as our walking is admittedly nothing but a constantly prevented falling, so the life of our bodies is nothing but a constantly prevented dying, an ever-postponed death''. (gmrsivani@gmail.com)
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