“Oh, the sea is too rough, be careful” ... I must have said umpteen times that day. We were out at the beach, on one of our regular jaunts, that’s when I had to alter all my pre-defined notions about death. Though I decided to succumb, death only wanted me to taste it and let go. The experience had humbled me. It taught me the triviality, the miniaturization of human being, which is just another creation among millions and millions of species.
Do some freeze, some think of dear ones, some pray, when faced with fatality? I don’t think death smiles at you when it sees you face to face inexplicably. May be it feels brutally callous when it has to suck a life out very unnaturally, or even a smidgen of culpability if the life is young.
There was a moment we were enjoying the coarseness of the sea, the waves surging against us, sand all over us, we were gleefully dragging each other against the current. I don’t know what happened before I saw only the opaqueness of sea. No one else, no living creature in sight, no voices heard. I thought the moment would pass and it’s just another strong wave. But the moment, for a change did not seem to be passing.
|I have read somewhere;
death is a senseless clown
that appears on the stage
at the wrong time.
Engulfed by the power of nature, absolute helplessness humbled me at the very instant, for there was this supreme, superlative power that did not let me reach anywhere near taking control over it. I simply closed my eyes – do whatever You want to. I felt bitter saltiness gushing down my throat, horrifying clots choking my lungs, I gasped and told myself “this is it”. Seconds seemed hours before I was lifted up and pushed to shore.
No tinge of fear? No expressions in mother tongue as read in a Birbal parable? No thoughts of a four year old back home? No thanking stars? No, to be true. I was very certain of death and it felt extremely peaceful. A sense of freedom that I have never felt equal to, ever. Succumbing to nature I feel, is the heights of tranquillity. How do you feel tranquil in the presence of something or someone you know has brutally overpowered you? Is it being too matter-of-fact? I don’t know. How do you still find a queer presence of an unexplainable power, though you know you are miserably alone? Is it the belief in God? I don’t know. Do these moments of encounter feel different when your destiny is different? Does this tranquillity confer sustainability till the very end? Does death chose its pace? Does death follow us everywhere like an invisible shadow? Don’t we feel this mysterious presence when we concentrate hard? Once the sick feeling of salt intake was under control, all I did was to rush back to the very same place, to the very same eternally bountiful deep blue as I could relate to it in a manner all new, befriending with the ultimate truth.
I have read somewhere; death is a senseless clown that appears on the stage at the wrong time. But isn’t it true that the rightness and the wrongness and the sense of time apply only to us? We judge death and try to reason out. While the truth is we are too ordinary to do so. Death has no wrongness and it is none of its business to keep track of the time for man. Death is dutiful, just too dutiful and is no different from nature.
Later the day, my poet friend told me, “Bala, but all of us were there.”
I replied, “I could not see anyone, Thara.”
She cleared it, “No, Bala, I mean how come only you fell down?”
I did not reply. I thought she herself had the answer. Let me quote her own poem which I believe will explain it.
Death, an island
(a poem by Thara D’Souza)
Castaway in rugged rock sharpened shore
I looked for faces
Death an anomic island
Where no beach boy plays
no passionate lover kisses
no amber sun shines
no far away fisherman sails
no coconut grove shades
cloudy musky skies, howling wild winds
blurred vision, heeded for voices
unpeopled shore shacks vacuum ...
Death is a lonesome affair. Sorry, you are not allowed a company of your choice. Let us embrace the pleasant vulnerabilities of being a human being while we are in its form and possess its mind. Enjoy togetherness, even its trivialities, enjoy successes, achievements, enjoy life with all its ingredients. We are going to be too lonely in an opaque milieu some day, like it or not.