On death: or life?

Death fascinates me. No matter what we do, we will eventually die. It levels the playing field. It removes boundaries – political, religious, socio-economic. It does not matter who you are. In death, we are all equal.

I watched an old relative when he was taken to the electric pyre. I have seen many faces like his. They are the same. There is no emotion. Even a sleeping person has emotions, the muscles twitch, the forehead creases, there is movement. He had no movements. Just silence.

He was a renowned doctor. In life, he was celebrated, respected. In death, he was nothing.

Beside him lay the body of another person. In life, he was a rickshaw puller, who earned less than the minimum wage. He was neither celebrated nor respected. He did not exist and in death, he, too, was nothing.

In death, they were the same. They were just two human bodies lying each other on the floor – naked, smeared in ghee.

I have often imagined how it will be for me when I am dead. I will be lying beside someone and we both will be nobodies. I, too, will be smeared in ghee and so will the body next to me. Death makes life meaningless but in life, death is the most important thing. What is life if not a distraction from death? Our goals, ambitions, failures, sins, blessings, are part of a giant act to keep us distracted from the real meaning of life: death. Without death, would we even do the things we do?

Everything would be meaningless if not for death.