Sunday, August 15, 2010

How to live and die

Death is rarely spoken about in our homes. I wonder why. Especially when each one of us knows that death has to come, has to strike. It’s inevitable. This line from Yas Yagana Changezi says it best: Khuda mein shak ho to ho, maut mein nahin koi shak (You may or may not doubt the existence of God, you can’t doubt the certainty of death). And one must prepare oneself to face it.

At 95, I do think of death. I think of death very often but I don’t lose sleep over it. I think of those gone; keep wondering where they are. Where have they gone? Where will they be? I don’t know the answers: where you go, what happens next. To quote Omar Khayyam,
“Into this Universe, and Why not knowing
Nor Whence, like Water willy-nilly flowing...”


“There was a Door to which I found no Key
There was a Veil through which I could not see
Some little Talk awhile of Me and Thee
There seemed—and then no more of Thee and Me.”

I once asked the Dalai Lama how one should face death and he had advised meditation. I’m not scared of death; I do not fear it. Death is inevitable. While I have thought about it a lot, I don’t brood about it. I’m prepared for it. As Asadullah Khan Ghalib has so aptly put it,

Rau mein hai raksh-e-umar kahaan dekhiye thhamey
Nai haath baag par hai na pa hai rakaab mein
(Age travels at galloping pace; who knows where it will stop
We do not have the reins in our hands nor our feet in the stirrups).”

All my contemporaries—whether here or in England or in Pakistan—they’re all gone. I don’t know where I’ll be in a year or two. I don’t fear death. What I dread is the day I go blind or am incapacitated because of old age—that’s what I fear—I’d rather die than live in that condition. I’m a burden enough on my daughter Mala and don’t want to be an extra burden on her.

Full excerpt here Outlook 

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