Growing old is mandatory. Growing up, optional – Zarathusthra

(Actually not Zarathusthra. Who’s Zarathusthra?)


Anyway, I’ve told myself that I have to actually look forward to it.

Death, I’m talking about death. As in croaking it, buying it, kicking it or just copping it. Of course, I won’t look forward to it too eagerly, mind. I’m not looney. It’ll be more like looking forward to Saturday morning tennis with that Thomson woman down by the river, in her un-sanforized skirt. Tennis with her is something you wouldn’t mind and at the same time not make a big deal of, in case you oversleep. She’s cross-eyed. I’m not trying to make fun of her but if you’re in front, she has to turn her head to look at you, like a gecko. If you notice anyone walking sideways, its Clarise Thomson. She says  she has to make a minor compensating correction when she wants to execute a backhand. If the ball is to her left, she has to move her hand slightly to the  right in order to connect squarely with her racket.

But this is not about Clarise. Leave her alone, poor girl. What I’m saying is that death should be a mundane thing. Like going off to Florida or Las Vegas for a weekend.

“Hey, Arch, let’s go see Rocky XXIX tomorrow”.

“No can do, Burt. I’m off to the other side this evening.”

“Oh, well then, I’m happy for ya. Any chance I can have yore Camarro after you’re gone?”

“No, I promised Tod I’d let him have it. You can have my XXX DVD collekshun and inflatable doll, though you’ll need ta sterilize her prior to use.”

You must think I’m crazy, but just think about it. Most of us go through life dreading the day it’ll happen, trying our damnedest to postpone it, blocking the thought itself from our minds, praying for longevity to the very same divine being who has made it mandatory. Gobbling ginseng, foo fing, blech grig,  shimby shoo, bobbla boo. Skipping sex just in case you have a cardiac arrest.

And then when death does come, it is invariably agonizing. Most folk who passed, that I know of, died in pain, demented, pathetic and vegetative. Of those that I actually happened to be standing next to, not one cried out the name of God or asked to be recited a prayer or even cared about being remembered in  our prayers, so complete was their disillusionment. The one thing that they had clung on to all their lives, was entirely absent from their thoughts at the last moment.

Its  true. A palliative care professional has written a book called ‘Last Words’ in which she has detailed the last words that she heard from the lips of dying  patients, during the course of her career. She used to make it a point to hover near those who she believed would most likely not live through the day.  They all wanted to be with someone, anyone, just not alone. God and prayer never entered the picture.

I want it done differently when the time comes for me. Oh yeah. Death should be an occasion to celebrate and I would like it to be a ball. Please, no  frantic phone calls, no hysterics, no rush for visas and tickets, no morose gatherings or wakes. I want it to be like just another day. After I’ve stopped breathing, you can chuck me into the blue recycle bin in the backyard, if you like, though if I die on a Friday, its sure to stink by the time the garbage truck comes around next. I’d prefer to be cremated. Ashes ta ashes. I’d make excellent fertilizer for yore tomato and beans patch.

“These beans are so soft and fresh, Mom…”

“Sigh, of course they are, darling. Your Dad is mixed in them….”

The palliative care nurse will  do just fine. I’ve always wanted to die in the arms of a Malayalee nurse smelling of fresh spicy appams. Or anyone buxom and in uniform. If she also happens to have two large satsuma vases up there, so much the  better. But I digress.

The talk immediately following my death should be a light hearted banter.

Cring, cring! Cring, cring!

“Hello? Boo? Your father died in his sleep last night. Don’t worry about me, I’m fine. I just finished watching Bold and the Beautiful.”

“Sorry to hear that, Mom. Way to go, Choochoo. Choo, I’m sure Mom won’t mind you wading into all them virgins up there, y’know.”

“Those virgins needn’t be worried on that score. Of late, your Dad never could get it up anyway. I have to go now. Have to be at the hair dressers’ at ten. Have you had the time to read through Dad’s letter?”

“Of course. Good old funny Choochoo. He has left me a life-membership at Sonny’s strip club down at Pointe-au-trembles. Lap dances free for the first  six months. Awesome.”

“Be careful you don’t catch something…”

“No problems. If something happens, Choo and I can start a chorus line up there with all them cherubs.”

“Bye, son, I’ll drop you a line after the cremation.”

“Make sure he’s well done, Mom. He was always worryin’ about his carbon footprint.”


There, see? No sobbing, no brahmins fed, no billy goats sacrificed. The world not only moves on but does it with gusto.

Wouldn’t you like ta die this way too? I can arrange it quick and clean with my Glock-37.

You’ll have ta bring yore own voluptuous Malayalee nurse though………


© 2013 Achyut Dutt.