Written by | Arificial Intelligence
ne thing is for sure: I would never be old enough to talk about death. Not even on the death bed. But I have been holding on to this topic for the last fifteen years, always censuring my thoughts about death, reminding myself that ‘I am still not mature enough.’
The first trigger came fifteen years ago. I was humming a tune and tip-toeing childishly into my friend’s house when a voice from inside shouted: “Stop right there, and return to your home.”
My grandfather had passed away; but my early childhood had made me so cold that I didn’t even feel sad.
Childish curiosity; I managed to get a peek into the house. A shiver went through my spine. I had just seen a dead body; pale white, and bare. A sad yet sober guy was pouring water on it. Only 6 years old, I was now scared of death.
Two years later we went to meet my mother’s ailing aunt. She was terminally ill; some said the reason was here knee injury, others said it was cancer. Whichever way, she was lying on her bed, ‘waiting’ for death, or that is what people thought she thought. Two years ago I head seen a dead man, and now, a woman on her death bed, shrunk to a mere three feet. What an ideal childhood!
Enter Y2K, my Uncle passes away. His 7 children are stranded. They have lost hope. Nobody chips-in to help the orphans; just a few tears and advices to offer. Thirteen, I just didn’t understand what was God up to.
2003, my father calls me at my hostel and passes the telephone to my mother. I could sniff trouble. My grandfather passed away; but my early childhood had made me so cold that I didn’t even feel sad.
Grandpa; the guy with whom I had spent my early childhood, the breakfasts at sunrise and wearing of surma to improve eyesight; the play at his shop, and his evening gifts. These memories scrolled in my head; golden memories, and yet my heart was saying “So what?” on his death. I couldn’t believe my behavior.
The second trigger to express my feelings came last year. A cheerful, smiling, cute Harris lost his father. I bunked my electrical class to join my other 5 class mates who were to meet and console Harris.
Damn! Again that same feeling; I just don’t feel sad for Harris. Meanwhile, the other five members expressed their utmost grief for Harris. Okay, so these people are extremely nice guys, and I am the only bad one. Whatever! I keep wearing my smile. Ali is irritated. He said that I was acting arrogant; I should feel for the fatherless boy.
As we reached Harris’s flat, we learned through his grandfather that Harris had just left to put his father to rest. So there was now at least one hour to spare. So we went to a nearby hotel; had a jolly lunch, took stylish pictures. Coke, giggles and taunts; one hour passed very quickly.
As we returned, it was school time; the last nail on the coffin; staring and pointing at school girls. I was stunned at their behavior, so lost that a speeding Hi-roof Toyota nearly drove over me; Azeem pulled me out at the last moment.
We have returned to Harris’s house. There are six of us, five good guys with gloomy faces, and one terrible guy; he is still smiling. From the flat arrives a red, angry looking, yet hopeless Harris. His flat shoulders have dropped low. With difficulty, he is balancing his weight on his toes; it seems that in just one tragic day, he has forgotten how to stand.
All the nice five guys hug and console Harris, they pray for his late father. The sixth one, still smiling, only hugs. Harris had his eyes fixed on the floor. He may never know which of his friends bunked their classes to be with him at this hour of need. Everybody stood still for five minutes; Harris still balancing his weight on his toes; he can barely stand. We bid him farewell. His eyes are still on the floor. It appeared that Harris shall never recover.
Meanwhile, there was the Annual Urban dinner at night. The five nice guys, the bad one, plus all the batches of Urban and Infrastructure Engineering met, and had a hell of a party.
I still keep my mouth shut. I still don’t know what death is for a person.
The last trigger came last Saturday. Enough is enough, I said to myself. I just had to discuss death.
The final trigger
A girl from the Karachi University bus is crushed to ‘death’ by another Karachi University bus as she fumbles and falls from the door. 11:30, it was common news, that she was from our University, and Saboor’s class fellow.
I am again in argument with Ali. I tell him that it is no big deal that a person dies from a bus accident. He tells me that a crime has been committed, and as NEDians, we should rise to protest, he adds that it could be me killed by a bus, if things remain the way they are. Everybody else also echo his notion that indeed it is a sad day.
Not again. One bad guy, and thousands of protesting, good guys. Ali finally persuades me into becoming a good guy. So now we have one thousand and one good guys. Yahoo!
The protest begins at 12. It was scorching heat, a few more 'poor' girls could have died of heat stroke. Placards were raised above the heads and slogans chanted:
· Change your policy
· KU F*
· No more kills
Ali asked me, "Have you brought your camera?". I said that I didn't know that a girl would die today, and we would have to stage a protest."
People started asking each other if the Tv guys had still arrived or not. Their mouths were watering at the thought of coming on national television. So the nice guys tucked-in their shirts, parted their hair, and raised slogans for the 'poor' girl, anticipating for the camera. Finally, they are filmed for primetime, and photographed for front page slots.
Update: Ali said that he indeed did come on Samaa Tv. I wish I could get hands on that footage.
Click here to see the 'unofficial' protest video
According to the Reader's Digest's "How to Live with Life", Death is often more relieving than painful. It is a solution and not a problem. Moreover, the pain a dying person seems to be in is and exaggeration. Scientists have observed that as the brain shuts down, reception to pain decreases. So when we see a dying person, we are only seeing involuntary movements of the departing body, there is 'no' pain is involved.
Yet, the accepted notion is that death 'is' quite painful. The spirit wrecks havoc with the body's nerves as it comes out of the body.
Both theories about death may be right, or maybe a third theory is actually the correct one. But does it matter: Do we have a choice not to die? What we can do is to change our reaction to death:
· Stop fearing death, it will come when it will come.
· Be prepared. Discuss it.
· Don't fake sadness when an XYZ dies; you will only look bad in the end.
About the author The author is a Second Year student in Urban Engineering. He is also the editor of this blog.
Why do we cry when people die?
How do you think a dying person feels like?