Saturday, April 19, 2014

How I would like to Die

I am one of those people who can't but stop thinking about death. How will it come. When will it happen. Who will be there. Once it starts rolling down such tracks, my mind is a rogue out of control freight train.

How will it be delivered? Will it be Nature, my own hands, someone else's, or a coming together of circumstances that will leave me in a strange place, with a strange thing, and perhaps alone with a stranger made completely from shadows and with murder in her eyes? And there are the visions. I am face down on a concrete road, with one good eye left - a crowd surrounds me, and dust takes flight every time I breathe till the point when I know my time has come.

Don't even get me started on life after death. The usual clich├ęd discussions we all end up having with friends over Beer, or with ourselves in those moments in our plastic cubicles, or while looking down from extraordinary mountains and across oceans so vast and so enormous that we are reduced to nothingness and one can't help but wonder, Where will I go after its all done?

Till now, like with jobs, when you only figure out one by one what you don't want to do with your life as opposed to what you want to become, I knew only of the ways I didn't want to go.

No drowning for me, thank you. I find being under a wave overwhelming and deeply unsettling. I just don't want to go out from being a central part of my own wide open universe, to being a fraction of a vast, angry ocean undecided if it wants to spit me out, or reduce the life inside of me to floating debris. Rocking gently over and under waves controlled by a disinterested moon is not for me.

Then there is disease. I guess no one of our generation wants to go out that way. The romantic charm of living a life long and living a life graceful never appealed to anyone of us, did it? Dying one day at a time, which I admit we anyways do, is not for me especially with disease and discomfort for company. All that Kurt Cobain BS about Burning Out, Than Fading Away that the hip guitar slinging friend in college talked about surprisingly still sticks in one's head long after the crazy haircuts and the ridiculous bandannas of our youth are lost and locked away in forgotten old trunks. No disease. Thanks again.

And then there is the death by one's own hands bit. I am working on a writing project where a man plans to kill himself, and so I felt the need to get into my hero's head to understand what it would feel like on that day. I took some days off work, went to a hotel, locked myself in and pretended. If I was to kill myself today, what would I do? Will I take longer than usual to brush my teeth? Will I switch on the hotel TV to experience the banality of it all, one last time? And so on. I sat there, like a cheap plastic laughing Buddha on that rented coir foam bed. And it came to me every now and then. For hours, it came in waves and it went away. 

It just does not make sense to kill oneself. You are going to die one day. The sheer chances of being born as a person, as opposed to say an Eel are rare. Very rare. You have just hit the cosmic jackpot. You got lucky. And you want to blow your freaking brains out for honor, fear, or whatever? 

So, as I was saying. I was only aware of the ways I did not want to go. Now, the other side. How I wanted to go! Can there be a positive spin to an otherwise largely avoidable event. There were no personal favorites on this, till a few days back.

A few days back it came to me. I had a painful backache, and my head was in the Wife’s lap, while she gently started to apply balm I could not help but cry out sharply. Our dog, Joko – who normally swears by his motto of Sure and Complete World Destruction – turned in our direction. A moment ago, he had been chewing off a towel for as he says “I don’t like the way the towel looks at me”

Joko, tilted his head, and looked at us for a few moments.  And when I howled again in pain, he gently let the towel go and gave me his complete and undivided attention. And this beast, with deep brown timeless eyes looked at me like he knew the ways of the world far better than anyone I have ever met. He got up, and in one smooth uninterrupted move was on the bed and lying next to me. And as I slowly turned my head, and my wife threw back her hands knowing the appetite he has for causing unintentional pain by pounding away his heavy paws in places that should not be pounded by heavy paws, Joko looked straight into my eyes for a few seconds, closed his own - and licked my face. And he started licking my bare back. Eyes closed, like he was saying with every stroke of his long tongue that things would be ok. The pain can be overcome. I love you, take care human beast Gaurav.

And he did not let go. He kept at it for minutes, and I felt a strange sense of relief come over me as the pain disappeared under the onslaught of love, saliva, and assorted things that he picks up from here and there. And then, his body tired – Joko slipped into deep sleep, his tongue half sticking out on my hand (Yes, he does that). I felt relaxed, and in that moment – my head on my wife’s lap, my dog softly snoring on my arm - I fell into a sort of space between being awake and being asleep.

And that’s when I knew. This is how I want to go away. Surrounded by those close to me, love gently stroking my hair, a loyal friend sleeping at my arm, possibly a few more looking down at me on a familiar bed on which sunlight drifts in and drifts out through undecided curtains. That’s a death everyone deserves. Surrounded by family and friends. That’s how I want to go. And maybe, if I am lucky and a good boy for the rest of my days; someone would break into a little sob just as life breaks out of me. And someone else may say that moments ago here was a good man, who would have made a joke about how he looks dead. And maybe, if it is handy and the moment demands a touch of drama- someone would loudly read out something written by me (And give me credit, and not pass it off as his own). And if everything is fine, perhaps a dog, with the wisdom of the ages in his heart, would look up into my dead still face and say take care human beast Gaurav.

By Gaurav Parab
For the rights I did, not the wrongs in my book.
For the roads I avoided, not the shortcuts I took.
Not for the scars marked across my skin,
Remember me for the man I could have been.

For the virtue unshown, not the sins I did
For what I had to show, not what I hid.
For the songs I wrote, not the words I said.
For the life that could have been when I turn dead.

For the shoulder I gave, not the backs I turned,
For the blows I took, not the ones I returned.
For my conscience, not for my mind unclean
Remember me for the man I could have been

The things I bought, not the ones I quickly sold
For what I did, not the stories that are told.
The thoughts inside, not the brilliant spin.
Remember me for the man I could have been.

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1 comment:

Manjusha said...

A few years ago, I used to think a lot about this. I've consciously avoided thinking about this for some time now. What's the point, I deduced. It's not as if I get to pick the day, time, or circumstances.
Here's a poem I wrote in those days comparing death by disease and dying a sudden death: