Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Till Death Do Us Part ..

(Painting : Death And Life ~ Gustav Klimt, 1916)

Apart from love and sex, this is one of the perennial obsessions of my life : death. The possibility of the death of my beloved ones. And myself. And the absolute certainty of it. The very thought of it stirs up a weird panic deep inside my heart. It starts to beat a little faster. I try to avoid thinking about death. Death of anyone dear and near. Run far away and manoeuvre an adroit slip. Imagine something else. More beautiful. More joyous. More lively. In this game of hide and seek, I win many a times. And with the cunning of reason, I successfully push it down to oblivion. Never allow it to sprout for a long time. Smother it as much as I can. It continues to remain dormant. Until at an unexpected hour, I suddenly hear its howl at my doorstep. Yet again.

One of the adolescent pastimes to stave off my mind from falling into the throes of agony caused by the possible death of a loved one was to conjure up the death of the loved one itself. I used to dramatise within my mind a detailed scenario of the death of my father. In that apparitional spectacle, I will be getting a sudden telephone call from my native to the hostel where I was studying, announcing the cardiac arrest and the consequent passing away of my father. I will then imagine about the mode of transport and the friends who might accompany. I will also imagine who all will be there when I would reach my home, how his body will be laid, and who will be around him. All this will be elaborate and more detailed. But the phantasmic sequence will come to an abrupt halt at this juncture : about how I will react at that point of time after reaching home. That used to be the climactic moment of the play in my mind. I could work out all the details minutely till the moment I reach that finale. However much I tried to conjure up thereafter, it always ended up in a blank. And such episodic flights of fancy will conclude, in reality, by me making an innocent phone call to my home and pretend to modulate my voice to normalcy. The ultimate solace of all this would be to hear the voice of my father at the other end.

Much water had flown down the river of my dreams since then. Gradually I had almost forgotten those mind games which I used to play earlier. The fate lines enshrined in my astrological chart took me to inhabit the Arabian coasts. And I was preparing myself to turn over a new leaf of my little life. Then, out of the blue, came the jolt of my lifetime : the long awaited, almost forgotten telephone bell rang to announce the departure of my father at the dawn of a Thursday. It was followed by a long silence at the other end. All I could hear was the chirping of a sparrow. My father had quietly vanished into the sands of time. And what I had hitherto enacted in my mind's eye got replayed in reality. Even though the colours changed, the contours remained more or less the same. Except the grand finale. I crash-landed straight into the centre of an agonising whirlpool of unfathomable grief and muffled sorrow. My life turned topsy-turvy. Even a whiff of what I subsequently experienced could never be imagined before. That is death. You cannot get prepared to encounter it.

That happened in 2001. And am still struggling to come to terms with it.

This Tuesday morning, I woke up to read an SMS from Venkat Saminathan : Maami passed away last night at 10pm. The timing of the message was around 3 am. I had spoken to Maami only a few days before. It came as a rude shock. Dilip and Suresh spoke to me. I rushed to Chennai immediately. I wanted to be with Ve.Sa. at this hour of immense grief. By the time me and Sengathir reached Ve.Sa.'s house in the afternoon, they had already taken Maami to the crematorium. Her ashes were handed over in a container which confluenced with the waves of the sea at Besant Nagar beach.

Ve.Sa. was sitting in the same verandah of the house where I had bid adieu to Maami last month during my trip to Chennai. Ve.Sa. had come out for an evening with Dilip along with his walking stick to the hotel where I had put up. He was barefooted as he could not wear his sandals because of the fracture he had suffered in his legs. That was the second fall and fracture within a short span of few weeks. He held my shoulders, climbed up the steps of the hotel and came to the room. We discussed till mid-nite over 100 Pipers. In between, he rang up Maami to inform her about his safety and tell her not to worry about him and that he would return little late in the night and she could have her dinner and sleep peacefully. He always talks to her in that tone and tenor : an intimacy which has grown more affable with time. From 1992 when I first met him to 2010.

Now it is the mid-night of yet another Thursday. Three nights have passed by since Maami left Ve.Sa. who is now in his mid-seventies. Ve.Sa. would have probably started to have more intimate conversations with Maami. As I have been having with my father since 2001. Death is a deeply meditative phenomena in one's personal life. It is the most profound experience of sadness of the human soul. An artery emerging from one's heart snaps and the blood keeps drenching the heart. It never stops. One has to undergo the pain with its heightened intensity. There is no escape from it. From there, the doors open up. One can understand life more sincerely and more seriously in death alone. Death is the ultimate Teacher of Life. Life is not the same any more after encountering the death of a loved one.

Do we ever learn anything from it?


  1. Do we ever part with each other? Krishna clearly says to Arjuna in Gita, that there was no time when HE or Arjuna or the Kings participating in the battle of Mahabharata were not there nor any time would come in future when they would not be present. Then what is death. Krishna explains that just as we change clothes, similarly, the spirit also changes its clothes. Also when Gandhari was weeping after death of all her 100 sons and was inconsolable, HE showed Gandhari glimpses of next life of his sons who were having merriment in some other Loka. So if we go by scriptures, there is no such thing called death.

    But the fact remains that there is death of the body and it must be quite painful, that is why we try to avoid it all the time. Infact it is said that our mind is millions of years old. Therefore we must have had number of existences prior to this life and we must have undergone death many a times. But since death was painful for each of the time, we keep coming back to life avoiding even thinking about death.

    So what is the way out. To accept death with open arms? This is possible only when we die to every thing we have accumulated, good or bad, conciously. Then there is nothing that death can take away from us. Ideal thing would be that at the appointed hour, we are in a position to leave our bodies conciously and go for an eternal life. But ideal things are not easy to achieve. Next best thing would be to have HIM on our lips when the knock comes. Is it possible?

  2. It is very common among humans to imagine things and rue on them until the string of imaginations get snapped by the emergence of another influential thought. By placing oneself in supposed events and planning oneself to manage them have served for long for right form of decision making. It is not known how human mind would have functioned lest there is imaginative thought process. At times one even thinks about one's own death and tries to surf on its apparent happenings with complete control over the events as one wishes them to be.

  3. red earth and pouring rainMarch 19, 2010 at 10:58 PM

    Death or the incidence of mortality is drops into one's consciousness, quietly, unannounced creating expanding circles of sadness. It unsettles the gentle rhythm of anyone who toiled hard to create one's space in the tiny playground with crude negotiators. death brings with it varied images, assorted feelings with utter uniqueness to everyone. For me, it always carries the failure of my responsibility to the concerned. Grandfather with his real or imagined uncured illness is haunting me all the time at the incresing frequency. Again, the solitude of the happening of death in the sterilised urban setting should be one of the most profound happenings inthe history of civilisation.

  4. Death is always freedom to a person who is dead.
    Death is always painful to a person who is alive with the memories of dead cum beloved one...

    Death is just like that for those who are non sensitive. It is precise and beautiful for those who are sensitive. It is miserable for those who are mediocre. For mediocre every moment of life is miserable as he is no more in anywhere..

    Father's death... I'm very closely accompanied with him in last days and one thursday morning your voice still in my ears "Father is dead - Go to tamilnagar - help Anand".. I'm not able to realise the fact which ends with severe headache but after some hours I accept the reality and become normal. From that day to last year my life is moved out with flat by escaping from reality..

    Even after narrow escaped from death now only I start realising the value of life?

    Death is undoubtedfully threaten one..

    All of us having an experience of beloved one's death..

    Some one having experience of to see death in closure..

    But unless otherwise one who realise the value of life, death never makes any changes to the perception of one's life..

    As all our life is moving on with illness / goodness of selective amnesia..


  5. Death:

    Do we really have death or born to die?: As pankaj(ur friend) said rightly that it is only change of dress/color/skin/avatar etc and there is no death to one's life. Everything (everyone) is with us and around us. No one had departed from this universe.

    Should I feel(+ve or -ve),fear or sympathetic about it?: There is an answer to everything, accept GRACEFULLY since no other option. one can possibly understand the death by right dissociation, clear introspection and association with PARAMATMA/COSMOS.

    The DEATH always throw upon several questions and few of them are:
    How does the death of one's beloved persons differ from other's death (known/unknown living beings)?
    Is it possible for anyone to differntiate the death of known and unknown living beings?
    Is it the same feeling when one encounters death of beloved and unknown?.
    Do we know how many deaths are happening in a unit of time scale?
    Are we aware of all DEATHS?

    If anyone has the differential intensity or imcomplete answer to anyone these, then it the word DEATH will bring fear, insecurity, restlessness of mind and body. Also it is possible to understand DEATH from the death of any living being more precisely the death of beloved ones.

    Death is universal and perfectly in line with the principles of nature as far as any biological organism is concerned. No escape for any living(????) being. But at the same time there no such phenomenon for the soul which is eternal.

    The haunting experiences of death of other co-organisms always leads to bleeding hearts, congested lungs and temporary death of brain. One can observe the deep silence to musical extravagenza as the social& mental maturation goes down the order.

    No one had said, taught or recorded the experience of death in normal sense, Such experiences may be of delightful; of happiness ; of pain; of relief; of freedom; of panoramic; of eagerness to reach the paramatma etc. In this play of drama, the actor is always correct and the audiences do have all remorses depending on the degree of attachment with materialism/mediocre life.

    Not withstanding all the above, the DEATH is DEATH; one cann't see the same figure, same voice, same smile, same criticism, same love, same pain, same hatredness and the SAME LIFE. It is painful encounter which prepares everyone to have introspection, understanding, calmness and finally to live meaningful(???!!!)...

  6. இறப்பை பற்றி உங்களது பதிவு நல்லதாயிருந்தது.
    மனிதன் 5 பயங்களை கொண்டிருக்கிறான்.

    அ) தனது பெயர், புகழ், பணம் – தனது அடையாளம் இழத்தல்
    ஆ) தனது உடலுறுப்புகள் இழத்தல்
    இ) தனது உறவினர்களை இழத்தல்
    ஈ) தன்னிறப்பு

    நீங்கள் பயிற்சியின் மூலம் ஓவ்வொரு பயத்தையும் துறக்கலாம்.நான் இதை
    செய்து பார்த்திருக்கிறேன்.

    முதல் ஓன்றை ஒரு நிமிடம் நினையுங்கள். ஏதோ ஒரு பிரச்சனை காரணமாய்
    வேலை இழந்து, கெட்ட பெயர் வாங்கி, தெருவில் நிற்கீறிர்கள். அப்படி நடக்கும்போது
    லாரி ஏறி உங்கள் உடலுறுப்புகள் காணம்ல் போகின்றன. வீல்சேரில் சிவாஜி போல
    பாடிக்கொண்டு வரும்போது ஒரு தந்தி வருகிறது.

    இப்படியே யோசித்து கடைசியில் நான் இறக்கிறேன். அது ஒரு நல்ல அனுபவம்.
    மிகப்பெரிய மங்களகரமான விசயமது.

    பேசலாம் இதை பற்றி..


  7. Death is a kind of an agony that can't be overcome by any kind of consolence when it happens to our beloved ones..

    It happened to me when my grandpa left us. It was at that time i felt that there is nothing in this world which is worser than the pain caused by the death. I have no words to express how i felt,because time was only factor that healed the pain. The thing is that,whatever i felt like sharing with my grandpa, I am now sharing with his soul..

    "Death is the ultimate teacher of life". "Life is not same any more after encountering the death of loved one" - That's true. It really doesn't have any alternate. My grandfather's death taught me a lot..

    Death is the only thing in our life which we can't accept and avoid when it happens to our beloved ones.. But we should be mentally strong to defeat such situations.

    True love can be felt only in the absence of our beloved ones..

    Let's pray for all their souls to rest in peace...

  8. You start falling...falling...falling..., you cant stop, no one holds you, its toally dark, you dont find a floor to stop falling....

    I get this dream sometimes, suddenly I wake up (fully sweat due to fear)..

    I feel death of self or someone very close to you is like this dream come true, i.e., you dont wake up, you go into an endless falling.

    Someone close dying...In my village, elderly ladies often say "I should pass away as a first person, as I dont want to see any one dying..."

    As rightly said, you know the value of your life when you die or about to die...Life is a miracle, unexplained by science..

    Your death shall be like a dry leaf falling from a tree... without any pain either to the leaf or to the tree..

    I wish to have such death...Such death will occur to one who had not hurt a single person in his life...which is not practical...

    Then lets we die one day...Kamal.