My mother’s death wish
I had recently imbibed the “big kids don’t cry” talisman successfully back then. Bruised and bleeding knees were no longer being greeted with tears and I was proud of it. And so when I saw a grown up man crying uncontrollably while a loved one was being buried, “Shame on you!” was the first thought.
I was on my way to school, when I saw this man wailing and howling over a dead body. “But how could he cry? He was an adult! Wasn’t he supposed to know that all people die? And more importantly, why was he visibly sad over it and not shrugging it off like a knee injury?” I thought about him all that day. And a lot of unanswered questions have lingered ever since…
“Advani stood for Prime Minister’s election when he was 80. Armani is around the same age and still designs clothes. Those are just people under alphabet ‘A’. There are people right to Z like that. The point is – age is just a number”, I threw some logic and reason to discourage her to wish for “a peaceful death before 75”. When my mother first mentioned her wish for a pre-retirement death a while back, everyone laughed. She then started joking about it more and more, and we did not know how to react.
“Besides, we all die one day. I just don’t wish to suffer the old age and let people around me suffer from it too. I already have diabetes and high blood pressure”, she said and went back to the coffee and newspaper. “Arjun Singh used to take dialysis in the morning and then attend parliament later. You are almost giving up,” I argued. “You should consider staying back to raise Sayali’s kids. I don’t want to go visit only to find the unruly punks hanging down from the ceiling fan like tree monkeys”, my brother tried to convince her in his own way.
“I have had enough with two kids and most of the things. And it is not just because of the diseases. I wish to hang my boots for good one day”, she tried to explain. My brother had his set of reasons too, “what if you get reincarnated? You will have to study all the way from Montessori all over again.” We went on with a few more arguments “How do you know your best days won’t be after you turn 75?” “You should make your life more interesting” “learn to live!” But she replied firmly with some vague answers to each of them.
We tried convincing each other for a while with each side as rigid as the other. It was just one random wish that my mother had, yet we tried to make her stop wishing for it with all might. We begged, argued and quoted Indian politicians as examples. We were desperate to hear her say “Fine! I’ll stay.” And that is when all the questions from the day I saw the weeping man were answered.
Death may be the greatest of all human blessings. It could be a release and an eternal escape, but is greeted with tears nevertheless. It can even be desired and awaited for in some cases, but still greeted with tears.
So, was he crying that day because he wasn’t sure where they go? Or was it because he was dull enough to hope against the laws of universe? Or simply because the journey came to a final end?
I would never know why his tears betrayed him but I believe he cried mostly because the loved ones leave behind a lot of things when the go. And we are one of those things too.