Thursday, March 27, 2008

Morituri Te Salutamus

(Flow of random thoughts, again.)

Recently, I discussed death with a few of my friends. More specifically, the question "How would you like to die?"

It might seem like a very morbid topic for discussion, and it is. I can be a morbid sort of guy at times.

Anyways, almost all said that they'd like to die peacefully in their sleep. Just float away in the night, dying several years from now of old age. Me, I wouldn't like that. I would rather die suddenly and instantaneously. Like, say, a massive instantly fatal car crash. Or a earthquake that crushes me in my sleep. Or a well-aimed bullet to my head. Something like that.

I don't mean to be dramatic. My reasons are exactly the same as those of people who'd like to die in their sleep; like everyone else, I'd like to die cleanly and quickly with little or no pain. Not for me the extended, "Main jaa raha hoon maa" type of deaths so loved by Bollywood.

The next question is, of course, when exactly. Some of my friends said they'd like to be grandparents or great grandparents before they die, so that they have achieved everything personally and professionally that they could have hoped to achieve.

Me, I'm ready to go now. Quickly, cleanly, immediately. Today's as good a day to die as any, and I'm ready. Not ready in that I've tied up all my paperwork and have my will in place, but ready in that if I was to die right now, I wouldn't regret it. Not that I'd have the capacity to regret it once I'm dead, of course. (I do not believe in the afterlife or in reincarnation.)

Again, I'm not trying to be dramatic, or a hero. It's just that I'd much rather die early than hang around for years and years until people can't wait for me to die. And I'd much rather die at a time and in a manner that people think, "Oh, why did he have to die so soon?" rather than "Oh well, he was expected to die anytime now anyways..."

I have certain ambitions, certain plans for the future, certain things I'm looking forward to. But if I was to die right now (the ceiling, unfortunately, looks fairly solid and unlikely to fall anytime soon) I would be perfectly alright with it. One needs an extremely strong reason to want to live to be (rationally) against death. Death is a great liberator. The end of all worries, insecurities and unhappiness. And it's tax-free, as well. (For me, I mean, not for those who inherit whatever meagre savings I leave behind.)

Another angle of the thought of death is: does my death matter? I don't have any dependents as of now, and my brother is a superstar and fairly capable of meeting all familial obligations. (On second thoughts, maybe I'd like to hang around for a few more years until he's settled.) Apart from the financial aspect of it, there's also the emotional one. Would anyone mourn my death? The answer to that is, reassuringly, yes. I am confident there will be some non-family members (Family, especially in India, will always love you even if you are a cannibalistic murderer) who will genuinely miss me when I'm gone. And that is a source of great strength in a cruel and very matlabi and selfish world. There aren't very many (actually, very very few in my estimation), but a non-zero number is infinitely better than none. Very welcome, indeed.

There are people I know whose death will affect me very very deeply, people whose passing I will very genuinely mourn and feel emptier for. Many of these people don't even know how much a part of my life they have been in the past or are now, and how much I value their presence in my life and their contributions to making me who I am today. I don't suppose I'll ever tell them, but it's nice to know one is capable of caring about and respecting others to such a depth.

Death is inevitable. Birth is, in a way, just the beginning of death. And it comes with a lot of baggage.


Vikram said...

FYI, suicide is illegal. So it's criminal to try.

Don't try.

Vivek said...

Dude, are you ok?

Anonymous said...

hey why have you written such a post? I think I like your usual ones better :( - Lizzy

Anonymous said...

Why such a dark and depressing post?

Srividya Jayaraman said...

I don't understand. You don't want to die a protracted death. You want to die instantaneously.Isn't dying in your sleep instantaneous enough?Then why are you against it?

AC said...

@ Srividya: You're absolutely right. I ought to have spent time composing and sense-checking this post before putting it up. I should have also ordered the issues better. Let me clarify.

a. I want to die young rather than old.
b. I want to die instantaneously.

The implicit assumption I made was that dying in one's sleep meant dying old. (Not entirely erroneous maybe, as peaceful death in one's sleep would probably come about due to a graudal failing of one's body over time. But not entirely accurate.)

I realise one can die in one's sleep peacefully, and that I would welcome. At any age. It's just that I see this as being less probable at a young age, in which case I'd like to die through one of the other quick methods I mentioned.

Sorry about that... I really should be clearer with my stream-of-consciousness posts! :)

AC said...

@ Lizzy: Hey, life isn't all sunshine and moonbeams :)

@ Vikram, Vivek and anon: I'm fine, really. Just in the mood for deep thought!

pXr said...

the best way to die is to be assassinated. To be killed for something you truly believed in so the whole world can mourn your loss. The tricky bit comes before the bullet.

AC said...

Good point, pXr!

Anonymous said...

May not be...but at the end its just the way you look at it! - Lizzy

Gayatri said...

I don't think this is a dark post at all.. I think about stuff like this all the time but I guess its a li'l spooky (to others) to actually say it out loud.

As long as I die before people start wondering out loud around me if it isn't time for me to go yet, I guess I'll be good.

Also, I'd die anyhow, anywhere except a hospital bed. That's the scariest bit for me!

pnoasnidtiinvie said...

Just curious, what made you write "I'm ready to go now....quickly, cleanly, immediately" ?

AC said...

@ Gayatri: We think alike :)

@ pnoasnidtiinvie: Hard to say exactly why... what I mean is that if I had to go now, I wouldn't mind. I don't see a sufficiently strong reason that would make me beg not to die now. It doesn't mean I've actively looking to die immediately :)

Jaya S said...

"Oh, why did he have to die so soon?" - with increasing life spans, that statement is being used even for older mum calls even 72 too early for death. In my share of morbid conversations, I've never heard anybody say he/she is ready for death. That's an interesting thought- does it mean there is nothing more you want to do with life, or is it just that if death does come around you won't know and won't miss the things you'd liked to have done?

AC said...

@ Jaya S: I agree... Life spans are increasing and I fully expect that, disaster aside, I will probably live to be 80. Why do I say I'm ok with dying now? I'll go with your last line... I don't think I'd particularly miss the things I'd liked to have done

Burping said...

i is like this post of urs... and is i think this is my first ever comment on ur blog.. so u can imagine how much is i like this post...
- murali

AC said...

Wow :)