This series features my frank confessions of life. An ostrich digs its face in ground when it faces a danger. I find myself no different from an ostrich who tended to ignore the daring question that life raised again and again from time to time. I tried my best to sustain the ostrich within me whenever I faced one of those bouts. But the few glimpses that I caught out of curiosity were sufficient to change the entire direction of my life. Read on the Confessions of an Ostrich…
I woke up in the night and found myself sweating profusely. I felt like being choked. My mind felt all blank in fear. It was again one of those bouts I recall having since my early childhood. The same fundamental question engulfed my mind – Is this all going to end?
So I shall die one day. My parents, my relatives, my friends all are going to die. And when I die, it will all be blank. Even the peace I have during a deep sleep will not be there. Because, I shall no more wake up to discover whether the sleep was peaceful or not.
The oldest person I have ever heard of is around 156 years old. Even if I assume mythologies to be true, I could be several thousand years old but still I have to die. And if I live that long, it would mean, all my dearest ones will leave me forever much before. So either ways I am cursed.
All the rest of my plans and their accomplishments are uncertain. The only certain thing is death. No one ever escaped it and I cannot be an exception. Suddenly I felt as if everything and everyone around me is already dead. It’s all so meaningless. The whole concept of life and living is so meaningless. Regardless of every success and failure I have in life, regardless of the number of friends and enemies I make, regardless of the amount of fame or disgrace I acquire, it’s all going to end in the same manner as it will end and as it has ended for all others.
Nothing else matters. Be a success, be a failure – it’s all very temporary. Scientists say that the universe is 14 billion years old. Sun is a middle-aged star. And yet it is 4.5 billion years old. Earth is almost as old. A human life of 100 years is insignificant compared to that. If we assume the entire universe to be as big earth, the size of earth is no more than a pencil dot. That defines the magnitude of domain of human influence.
Thus in the entire scheme of things, I am no more important than one of the tiny microbes on entire planet. Nothing is in my control – I had no choice over my birth and I will have no choice whatsoever over my cold fast-approaching death. Emotions, feelings, memories – nothing matters at all. They all would evaporate into nothing, as and when I evaporate into nothing under the grip of death. Nothing is more certain than this.
I recalled a faint childhood memory. I was around four or five years old. In the night, while I was sleeping with my mother, I asked her, “Mummy, will I die one day?” She had no clear reply. She said, “No, nothing will happen to you. Go to sleep now. You have school tomorrow.” I again asked, “Does everyone who takes birth die? Will grandma, grandfather, you, papa also die?” She said, “You should not talk like this about your elders. You should respect them. Now go to sleep.”
I did not ask anything more. But I was far from satisfied. This was my first experience of this bout that I can recollect. Next day, I asked papa, “Papa, how long will I live. Please see my hand.” He smiled and brought my palm closer. He pretended to analyze it carefully and replied, “You will live for 102 years. Don’t worry!” I shot back, “That means I will die after 102 years. And will you, mummy, grandma, grandpa also live with me for 102 years?” He tried to deviate from the topic, “You should currently focus on your studies. This is your immediate priority. 102 years is very far off.” I was not convinced, “But that time will also necessarily come na. And then I will die.” He said, “If you study hard, you will never die.”
I almost forget that incident soon after. But it did make me a bright student though. After all, I had no other alternative to escape the brutal grip of death. Soon, I even forgot the reason, but got addiction of studying.
But now, I was having a much clear recall of this forgotten incident. I recalled that this is one question for which no satisfactory answer has yet been deciphered by me. And even if that reply of father made me a good student, it hardly matters. Because with death, everything and everyone shall end forever – including what I studied and learnt.
In a snapshot, my entire life came before me. The theme was my frantic search for solution to this most fundamental problem of escaping death. I recalled how this recurrent bout will suddenly open my eyes each time to a reality that I could not face or understand. And how it would make me even more frantic. (Cont…)