‘Kullu nafsin zayikatul maut,’ (Every soul shall taste death): Quran: Surah 3: Verse 185
The famous British author J K Rowling once said, “To the well-organized mind death is but the next great adventure.”
It is never easy loosing someone whom you love. The intensity of pain which one undergoes is indefinable and sometimes it is that much severe that it hardly allows you to heal. But as it is said time is a great healer, the pain of losing someone slowly diminishes and gradually gets replaced by the memories of life lived together.
Right from the childhood we are taught that one day we will have to leave the ephemeral world for eternity. Deep inside us this idea of death and fear of it is what keeps us haunting all the time. But we should know that the day which we are afraid of can be our last day of miseries and actually the beginning of eternity.
No one would probably like to die and no one would escape from it either. It is like everyone wants to go to heaven but no one wants to die. Death is inevitable and no one has ever escaped it. However death is not as universally bad as we think it is. It sets a lesson of equality in front of us; it respects no religion and sees no difference between rich and poor.
Some writers consider death a kind of an exchange where one exchanges this life for the better and finds life a continuous meaningless struggle. They see no difference between life and suffering, and in fact call life as a platform of sufferings which ends with death.
This reminds me of Mirza Ghalib who rightly puts it:
Qaid-e-Hayat o Band-e-Gham Asal mei Dounu aik hai
Mout sai Pahlai Aadmi Gham sai Najat Paayai kyu
(Life as a period of imprisonment and grief as bondage of fate both are indeed same;
So why should man get liberation before death strikes finally)
Despite knowing death’s inevitability, we still have an instinctual fear of it, Ghalib aptly describes it further:
Mout ka ik din Muayyan hai
Neend kyu Raat bhar nahi aati
(Death is definite one day
But why can’t I sleep in the night)
To minify the fear of it, one should better pretend that death does not exist or use death as a reminder to enjoy life, as Emily Dickinson says “that it [life] will never come again is what makes life so sweet”.
We love life over death and all the pleasures in it. Those who die in a state of despair die happily. They believe death as something ultimate solution to all problems. My approach towards life here is not somewhat nihilistic but these are some bitter realities of life which one must chew over thoroughly and accept whole heartedly.
John Donne while countering death in his sonnet “Death, be not Proud” says:
Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me
He takes death another form of rest like sleep, a way to be far from the maddening crowd
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow
Donne aptly presents death as something respite from world’s drudgeries and boredom. Death is not something superior to usual immoral activities like drugs, rapes, thefts, robbery etc. If such acts are performed when one is alive and in full sanity we can get to see death personified many times day in and day out. Donne calls it an escape from earthly life to eternal afterlife. Fear of death is something that restrains us from doing evil deeds.
When health of any person deteriorates and is driven helpless by a prolonged illness and when he loses the hope of being alive, he too takes death as a sole way of relief.
Usually, I go into a thought that when one dies what happens to him? A deep mull over leaves the question unanswered. It is a different issue to discuss about the otherworld or the life after death, people of different faiths have different beliefs, but the truth is that death benumbs everyone irrespective of religion, caste and color and the sentiments we share after death are same.
Imagine what will one do with the life which never ends, there is a particular span of life that is worth living or worth enjoying, the moment one enters into the stage where he is engulfed by health related issues, with no passion and dreams to live with and no opportunities to cherish, life becomes living dead for him.
Thus immortality is something that can turn out to be a damned existence. One can’t exist without death, we shall accept it as the second most important part of life as Glenn Ringtved rightly puts it “what would life be worth if there were no death? Who would enjoy the sun if it never rained? Who would yearn for the day if there were no night?”
Death thus is simply a continuation of life where one generation replaces the other. It sets a lesson of transience in front of others. Your room gets occupied by someone else of your family members, your mobile phone, laptop and other gadgets which used to be in possession of you are replaced by others. The only mark of existence are the photos you left behind. Life keeps on moving routinely in your absence too.
Author has done PhD from Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Aligarh