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.


About sayali611

Spent a lifetime building a wall around myself, only to realize that what remained inside was as hideous as anything I would protect myself from. This blog is my attempt to break free, one brick at a time, and to make sense of what was blocked out.

Posted on May 22, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

    • To make any post seem happy or sad is never the intention actually. Usually I aim for plain and simple truth, it turns happy or sad with perceptions of course.

  1. I think nobody wants to die ,we all dream of things of we would do before that.
    death is lamented because of the void it leaves behind.
    thought provoking stuff sayali

  2. Death is a part of life. There is one certainty the day you are born: that you will die. Those left behind cry because we have lost a loved one, this is true.

    I have always said, if I am brain dead an on a machine, kick our the cord – I do not want valuable medical resources used to keep me alive. If I had a painful terminal illness, I’d not want to linger either.

    I think death is something each of us approaches in our own way, I’m not sure anyone else can truly see our own perspective.

    Might I suggest asking you mother “Why” rather than giving her reasons “Why not”. She may then be able to give you a better window into her thoughts.

    • I really wish one day I shall be able to gather the courage to be able to talk to her about it. She might sit down and explain everything to me, but right now, I would still end up asking the “why?”s again.
      Thank you for your kind words 🙂

  3. u get life not that easily speaking universe wise then at the same time we wish to die too…
    well..termination of biological responses is something else but really that thought initializes, it runs through my mind too but then not to forget life is wonderful..really..:)

  4. midaevalmaiden

    This post is indeed poignant. Well written. My own mom is always trying to tell me all about how to handle her burial. Its like she is obsessed and I never want to hear it.

    (as an aside) I havent been reading your posts because I did not realize my subscription was set to ‘never’ notify. Well Ive fixed that. Aperantly the ‘never’ button is the wordpress default? Ill have to do some catching up here. 🙂

    • Not your mother too! Well, I hope it is just a phase for both your mother and mine.

      I did not have that subscription problem. I am glad it is sorted and I have you back 🙂

  5. Very well written post! First time here. And I’m sure I will frequent more.

  6. We are born crying, we shed tears of relief over our newborns.

    Tears, in moments of pure grief, tell us how much we love we have for those who leave us. Loved ones do leave behind so much when they go, it is how they “live” forever. And we must let them do this in peace.

    Wishing you and your family many more years of happiness and straight-talking!

  7. I want you to know that I appreciated your post.

    I apologize, in advance, for sounding preachy. I have twice faced death and lived. I have made plans for my departure and so has my husband. We have preplanned and prepaid for our celebrations of life, so those who love us are not burdened with making any choices or expenses on our behalf. We also have “living wills” and “non-resusitation” orders in the event that we are unable to make decisions on our own behalf.

    I wept when my friends died because their deaths were totally unexpected. They both died from medical conditions they didn’t know they had.

    I wept when my father died even though his death was expected. I wept because I was close to him and knew how terribly I would miss him.

    I have wept on happy occasions and sad ones. I have been through four grieving processes and this I know for sure. You cannot postpone grief. If someone you love dies and you have unfinished business you will weep. The moral is to make sure you deal with all relationship issues as they arise, rather than postponing them.

    • I like what you and your husband have done, it takes a good degree of pragmatism to that. You are right about dealing with things at the right time too. Yes, it cannot be postponed. Hopefully being ready for it will at least lessen the pain.

  8. We cry because we are ‘human, all too human’, I guess.
    This is a nice post, but I just found it to hard to relate to. I cry all the time. More than I did when I were a baby.
    And I’m a boy, so it’s even weirder, I guess.
    But nevertheless – nice post ^^

    P.S. – the blog’s font it killing me. ><"

    • Yup 🙂 as simple as that. We cry because we are human.

      (Is the font really that small?Nobody said anything about that before. I’ll work on it soon. Thanks for the feedback.)

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