I want to be a dodo bird. Or a dinosaur. And attain greatness simply by going away forever...
Now let’s not all choke over our chais and coffees as if I’ve shocked you. As if you didn’t know.
On a day when nothing extraordinary had happened .. no earth shattering twitter war, no elections round the corner, covid numbers in india were boringly low, a famous writer chose to die. So I sat watching his greatness being celebrated on the news when suddenly my son says walking into the room.. “Did he die?”
I’m impressed.. “You knew this guy?!”
“No, They’re saying such good things about him - he’s surely gone.”
Oh. Fair point. After all, I do know more about dinosaurs than I know about crows outside my window everyday. Yes, crows are noisy, croaky and not aesthetically appealing but then dinosaurs won’t be winning any beauty pageants too. But Spielberg chose to make a film about them, while the crows? They remain thirsty.
There’s something so mystical about death. The finality of it. It sprinkles gold dust and gives us a halo, we become Cinderellas forever without a deadline. Literally. God has an evil sense of humour!
As our status changes we become beyond reproach, not to be criticised...(can’t talk bad about the dead you see) But the living, oh they can go to hell! We are vile to the living and patronising to the dead. With this transition from Alive-to-Amar, we become whiter than white. Daag achche NAHIN hai… na na! not for us. We are unblemished in death.
Our final home is the frame on the family wall. To become the once upon a time in people’s distant memories. Ek tha Tiger... Ab nahin raha... tsk tsk tsk.
Don't get me wrong. We must absolutely respect those before us, and who are no more. We must respect their achievements, their mistakes, learn from their journeys for the road that lies ahead of us. But when will we get down to respecting those who are with us in the now?
Our canvas, our poetry, our prose becomes art after we leave, while in our life till death do us part, we struggle for everything from basic dignity to parking space. Each one of us is victim and guilty of this abhorring cruelty to each other in life. We are living longer than ever before in a world that is starved for mutual kindness. So much so that Death becomes an Angel to deliver us to the promised land.
Lady D would’ve been trolled for her relationships and the wrinkles on her face, martyrs would’ve been called rioters, Jyoti Singh would’ve been called Apavitra instead of Nirbhaya while her rapists were acquitted… If they would’ve lived.
Death spared them all from the vultures of the world who have a view on everything and need to shove it down everyone’s throat. That we choose to be vultures instead of doves is the tragedy of epic proportions. Being nice, doing good, basic decency, so simple to extend to the living. and each time we extend ourselves, our lives become richer in so many ways.
But instead we vilify the living while pretending to not speak ill of the dead. Kyon bhai, what paap have we the living committed? Why speak ill of the living? Being kind to someone after they pass is like using perfume before joining a Zoom call. Does nothing for no one, but serves the self well.
There’s a duet by MelC and Bryan Adams that goes - “Baby when you’re gone, I’ve realised I’m in love.” Sigh...while in their case it was an ex who will at least know they’re cared for, so many who have gone forever would’ve gone happily if they knew the good things that were said about them.
But you know the first principle of all good things? To be treated nice, we have to also be nice… to ourselves and to others, in time, not after it’s too late.
There can be so much more to life, so much more for us to give. So many lessons to learn before death does us part and we finally realise that,
Babu Moshai, zindagi badi honi chahiye thi, lambi nahin...