Sunday, January 28, 2007

On death, without exagerration.

Note: I didn't write the poem below. But I did think it was a poem that I had to say something about. But read the poem first.


It can't take a joke,
find a star, make a bridge.
It knows nothing about weaving, mining, farming,
building ships, or baking cakes.

In our planning for tomorrow,
it has the final word,
which is always beside the point.

It can't even get the things done
that are part of its trade:
dig a grave,
make a coffin,
clean up after itself.

Preoccupied with killing,
it does the job awkwardly,
without system or skill.
As though each of us were its first kill.

Oh, it has its triumphs,
but look at its countless defeats,
missed blows,
and repeat attempts!

Sometimes it isn't strong enough
to swat a fly from the air.
Many are the caterpillars
that have outcrawled it.

All those bulbs, pods,
tentacles, fins, tracheae,
nuptial plumage, and winter fur
show that it has fallen behind
with its halfhearted work.

Ill will won't help
and even our lending a hand with wars and coups d'etat
is so far not enough.

Hearts beat inside eggs.
Babies' skeletons grow.
Seeds, hard at work, sprout their first tiny pair of leaves
and sometimes even tall trees fall away.

Whoever claims that it's omnipotent
is himself living proof
that it's not.

There's no life
that couldn't be immortal
if only for a moment.

Death
always arrives by that very moment too late.

In vain it tugs at the knob
of the invisible door.
As far as you've come
can't be undone.

-- Wislawa Szymborska

*************************************************

I'm damn scared of death. I know its inevitable, but it scares the hell out of me. I can't imagine what it'd be like to just not be there. Gaurav had a smart reply to this... he said "well, you weren't there before you were born either". I didn't think of that until he said it, but even then, it did precious little to allay my fear of death( well, now that I'm here, what am I to do). There are times in the middle of night, when somehow thoughts go hither and thither and eventually you start thinking about death, and before you know it, there's a feeling you can't stand. You want to shoo it away. I personally say "rama, rama, rama" repeatedly, concentrating all my attention on that recitation, knowing if i say it long enough, i'll either fall asleep or the feeling will just go away. But the point is, I'm really scared of it.

This poem, however, treats it light heartedly. Big deal it seems to say. So i'm thinking that I'll commit this poem to memory, and start reciting it each time that freaky feeling comes along. But mostly, I suppose, I tell myself "well, you're alive now aren't you ? we'll cross the bridge when it comes. Hush and go to sleep" I wish I could hug myself and give myself a little kiss then, but well... I'm kinda not trained to be an acrobat or a ballerina. But nevertheless, I hush and go back to sleep.

Death, is "beside the point" :)

1 comment:

Gaurav said...

Well, you won't be around after you're dead, either. :P So what're you worrying about?