DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
The Divine Sonnet X is a well-known religious poem by John Donne. I have reproduced only a part of it above. I have chosen this famous title for my note because death has also chosen me to be its representative, its champion.
One very strange phenomenon that has repeated many times in my life so far is that whenever I have tried to help a sick and troubled individual, man or animal, it has died soon after. This could be a common experience with all since death is normal irrespective of the help and medical aid provided. Maybe I am making an issue out of it. Then again, maybe not.
Let me recount a few instances. The latest ones first. During the past four week I have carried two stray dogs in injured condition to the vet. One of them was a 10 day old puppy. It had its ear bitten off, rot had set in and there was a big hole on its skin just besides the eye. It was shivering and crying in the cold early morning when I found it. Initially I walked past it, stopped and turned back. It came to me with its small steps, sat down near my feet and was sobbing in pain. After a few minutes of arguing with myself I committed the silly mistake of picking it up and bringing it home. The crying stopped after I picked it up but I had a tough time trying to avoid seeing the hole where its ear stood. I gave it some milk and placed it inside a bucket because it was moving around. On route to my office I handed it over to the SPCA hospital. About a month back I sighted a grown up stray dog with one of its front leg chopped off and the bone jutting out into the sunlight. It was limping on its other legs. It took me 24 fours to muster the foolishness to decide. Decision was to help the dog. I took a string and a pack of Parle glucose and went near the dog. It looked as if the dog wanted to help me because it had placed itself near my car and did not trouble me trying to look for it. One by one it ate the biscuits that I offered and allowed me to touch its head and back. Snatching one opportunity I held both its jaws and tied the string around its mouth to shut it. It started crying when I tried to pick it up. With the help of a few office staff I got it picked up and placed inside the car and went straight to the SPCA hospital. Today I learnt that both the dogs died. The elder one was operated upon so as to cut off some part of the bone to bring the skin over it and stitched. It survived three weeks in the hospital, could have died because of the shock, the pain and the loneliness. The pup had full grown maggots inside which had penetrated the head. It died as soon as it was taken to the table for cleaning.
I am a member of the Japanese Buddhist group called the Bharat Soka Gakkai. The members involve themselves in chanting for courage, wisdom and peace and happiness for one’s own self and for others. Chanting for the sick is a regular feature. On two separate occasions during the past two years when I joined in for the improvement in the health condition of a sick member, the individuals died. Of course these members had some illness and disease and for arguments sake they could have died in the normal course of advancement of the disease. However there are numerous instances of people who have come back from the doors of death by chanting and struggling with a hope to survive. Somehow I have identified my presence in the group as a sore thumb. After that I have stopped chanting for the health of others. The occasions were forgotten until today when I learnt about the death of the two dogs.
Repeated occurrence of similar events cannot be put down to chance and coincidence. Whether I seek death or whether death seeks me, whichever way you look at it, there seem to be a bonding.