Sitting idle and staring out of the window suddenly I was hit by a questioning consideration that if these were to be the last few minutes of my life then what would I be doing and what would I be thinking? Given the suddenness of the question I concluded that I would still be staring out of the window and thinking that I am going to die now. Then I modified the question and asked again, “Listen Bo, let’s suppose that you are on your death bed, you could be dying for any reason like old age, accident, disease, suicide or all of them, there are few minutes left for the curtains to fall, you are definitely losing grip of all things around, now tell me, what would you be thinking”?. Hmmmm….! That one was a googly and I didn’t know how to play it. This sort of things need net practice and so I earnestly got down to putting my thoughts into black and white.
First thing, if I were to be near death, irrespective of my age, the body would be on the verge of collapse and in terrible pain. Possibly a few organs would have stopped regular function or some of them could be missing. Pain is such a repulsive feeling that even the mere thought of it generates surreal trauma in the mind. I wish I don’t have to die in a lot of pain, I wish I die in my sleep like a saint, I wish…. But the question did not suggest any such piety and therefore pain is a definite possibility. If I am dying and if I am in a lot of pain, would I be able to do or think about anything beyond the pain. I doubt it! But imagination has no full-stops and so I move ahead. If I am dying and also in pain then I would not like any life-saving medical procedures tried upon me like open heart surgery, angioplasty, ventilator, dialyses, organ transplant, blood transfusion or even being admitted to ICCU. I draw the line at medicines and injections and no further. I prefer to life and die with whatever nature has provided and would not like any manual interference in the natural scheme of things. I wish my family members and others close to me do remember and respect this intent of mine since I may not be capable of decision at that moment. Returning to the subject let’s say that if I am dying with pain, then I prefer to die so coupled with the minimum of fuss from everybody around. Given the opportunity and the chance I would surely move myself away from society during my last days, but then, let’s see what the future holds in store.
Second aspect of the question, what would I be thinking. What should a less than ordinary man be thinking on his deathbed apart from begging the Almighty for a few more days or weeks or months or years in bargain for a charitable disposition? Sorry but I thought that’s what people do. The reason for this being a compelling inability to comprehend whether one has lived enough. This brings to mind a dialogue from the film ‘Anand’, “Babumoshai zindagi badi honi chahiye lambi nahi” meaning ‘My friend life should be big and not long’. It is the varied experiences that one savors in life that makes it rich and such a rich life alone is satisfying. Going through the robotic motions of living like a derelict or living like an egoist conceit is not life and if that be the case invariably during the last moments one ends up thinking and grieving about people to thanks, people to love, people to say sorry, people to forgive, people to advice, so on and so forth. If one can lead a selfless life, living for the day as it unfolds, doing that which makes one happy, unaffected by victory and defeat, a life of, for and by truth alone, then in the end he or she would be able to say convincingly that yes I have lived enough. There would be no lamentations for such a life. I wish and I hope that I am able to fulfill such an expectation so that I can die in peace knowing well that I have done everything that I could have during my time of action. There possibly could be some unfinished tasks. Some places to visit, some experiences not encountered, and some people not met. It is said that one lifetime is not sufficient to go through all that which life offers. Another way to view this is that life is always work in progress, it can never be said to be complete. I think that is fine and that really won’t hamper my dying in peace.
Customarily when we think of death it gets linked to ageing. Today at the age of forty seven right in my middle age or past my prime I am looking forward to ageing with some degree of enthusiasm. Some say that it is also a stressful event where you are faced with reduced personal abilities and increased dependencies on others. Being alone I do not have the luxuries of these others and that makes it more challenging. I have already slowed down my lifestyle and curtailed my needs and have plans ready to reduce it further over the next few years. I have a lot of personal space and time for relaxation. I can spend countless hours sitting and doing nothing and this talent would be useful in times to come. Of course there are books, Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar songs, the bicycle, camera and laptop. Infact I am well equipped. I can also sleep easily and so far the body has been holding on to health for which I am grateful to the Almighty and pray that it holds on. I am at peace with myself but not with all others, some people still creep under my skin. Maybe I am actually ready for lecturing on old age related lifestyle changes (wink!).