Death. Dark. Black. Bleak. Cold. Lonely. Forgotten… Dead. Death has, strangely, to its credit, more prose, verse and imagery dedicated to it than life itself. We swear to be together till DEATH us to part. It’s DEATH that lays its icy hands on kings. Some of us claim to have a near-DEATH experience. DEATH has a smell. So, abandon hope all ye who enter here.
Last month, a very, very dear friend was taken away by the wretched hands of death. I went to the crematorium to see him one last time before he was put into the electric chamber, all the time feeling guilty about not having replied to his text messages that he had sent me even a day before he surrendered to that eternal slumber. DEATH is merciless for it leaves you numb. The dead and the beholder, both. As he was being slid into the electric chamber that glowed with an icy fire, his head banged onto the door of the gates as the trolley was suddenly thrown off balance because of the wobbly rails. I heard a collective wince from all who had gathered there. A good sixty of them if I remember. But the dead don’t wake up for the dead don’t feel. The irony of this lack of feeling made us reel into numbness. Tears and wails all around, But the DEAD don’t hear. Meanwhile, I was able to catch a last glimpse of the serene face of my dear friend. Motionless. The more I looked at him, the more I thought his lips curved upward by way of a smile.
The chamber glowed in an unearthly light. This fire wasn’t raging. It looked tired. It needed rest. It was mellow. The embers didn’t lash out at the feast being offered to them. Instead, they calmly accepted it. Comme d’habitude. Habitual. Mundane. Monotony.
We see DEATH everywhere. Newspapers, billboards, television. It’s eating away into our collective consciousness, bit by bit, every day. We are hardly aware of it. DEATH becomes HABIT. We die everyday. Bit by bit. Those moments when we contemplate on the next course of action by staring intent-fully at the polished blade of the kitchen knife. Or those when we wander closer to the local pharmacy, eyes dry and bleary, heart full of misgivings, just about enough change to purchase those pills. Or maybe those when we bring out our favourite writing pad and pen and meticulously compose a letter in black ink.
DEATH becomes us.
DEATH is us.