In these COVID days, we all have got used to the statistics such as number of positive cases, number recovered and number of deaths.
Death was not earlier so much talked about on an hourly or daily basis.
My apartment’s watchman called me “Saab, aapko koyi milane ayah hain (Sir, someone has come to see you”).
I told the watchman to ask the person to leave the parcel in the reception area and leave. It must be the delivery boy getting me a hamburger. I said to myself.
“It’s not a delivery person Sir”. The watchman explained. “The tall man wants you to come down”.
I was confused and a bit annoyed too. I put on the mask and reached the reception.
I was pleasantly surprised to see Lord Vishnu waiting for me.
“Well Dr Modak, I was just going over the Hinduja Hospital and thought of dropping in and see whether everything was alright with you”. The Lord had a concern.
I told Lord Vishnu that everything was fine with me and with my wife. The lockout had helped me to reduce my weight by 3 kg and I was doing Yoga regularly. I had even managed to reduce my dose of diabetes tablets.
Lord Vishnu was pleased to learn about my accomplishments.
“I have a question for you Dr Modak”, he said giving a reason why he wanted to see me.
“If I were to ask you, how and when would you like to die? Would you have any preferences?”
This question came to me as a shock.
“I never thought about my death, my Lord”. I was candid in responding.
The question however led to some introspection in my mind.
If it were on me to choose my time to die, I would choose somewhere close to 75 years of age considering I would be living till then a relatively healthy life. (Thanks to the tablets that I have been taking to extend my life)
I recalled a friend of mine who had told me that do not think of when you can die, instead think of what you can do something useful before you die. You should feel that you have lived a long but a satisfying life. Good tip – I said to myself.
I thought I should not live if I get hit by cancer, dementia and all those horrible diseases. Nobody wants to go through a prolonged and painful death.
Lord Vishnu probably read my mind. He said “Dr Modak, it depends on the person. A soldier may want to die serving his country. He could well be young. On the other hand, some businessman may want to live hundred years till he becomes very rich and famous.”
I couldn’t place which category I would be.
I just said “Lord, whatever is the age, I want to die naturally”. I then philosophized and added “We are generally born naturally and so; shouldn’t we die naturally?
For Lord Vishnu who had just visited the Hinduja Hospital, this statement of dying naturally sounded not so realistic.
I decided to articulate however. I said the Perfect Time to die is when you
- Achieve your Goal
- Give your best
- Maintain good health
- Make your wife/husband/children happy and arrange a source of money to him/her/them to live after you
- Have a big get-together with friends and relatives, and then
you die at home and in sleep
Lord Vishnu said that this checklist was impressive.
“Can I add more Dr Modak?” he asked.
Sure, Lord I said
Have all your passwords and other stuff up to date & readily accessible to your survivors. It is essential in these digital days. Most importantly, do not neglect to nominate on your accounts, deposits, policies and DMAT accounts. I can’t stress this enough. And have a fat life insurance policy.
I never knew that Lord Vishnu had really understood how we live and was so practical.
“Very important suggestion” I said.
“Do you want to describe your options about where would you like to die?” Lord Vishnu asked.
I said on a hill top, sitting alone on a bench, watching the valley and the mountains around.
Nice – a lonely, but a quiet and simple death – Lord said.
Listening to the music from some of the world’s leading maestros – right in the concert hall and sitting in the front row.
“That’s so sensual and artistic!” Lord said. Any other idea?
After giving the last lecture to the students in the university hall. I will finish my talk and sit down on the dais – to rest – never to get up.
“That’s quite touching and scholarly – your students will remember your last words” Lord said
Lord Vishnu was indeed amused with my imagination.
“Such deaths are rare Dr Modak and are reserved only for souls of certain kind who have selflessly devoted their lives for the good of the society and taken care of the nature. I will have to log in and check your account or the balance to see if you qualify.
“But I have a last question. Would you like to know about your time of death in advance?”
I thought about the pros and the cons
If I know before about the time of my death then I will probably spend too much time to prepare for it or get depressed or be out of focus and not enjoy life. I don’t think I will be as strong as Bill Parrish (Anthony Hopkins) in the movie Meet Joe Black.
And if death comes to me as a surprise then I may not be prepared as much I should be or could be less organized e.g. not wearing a smart dress with a matching tie. I realized that I had not given sufficient thought to my death that was something inevitable.
Lord Vishnu saw me sitting quiet. He got up to go.
“It was interesting to listen to you Dr Modak about your “death-wish”. It gave me a good perspective”
“But tell me what is the option of death that you would never like to have”
“Oh Lord, this question is simple to answer” I said “I just don’t want to die during these COVID days and certainly not on one of the beds in the Hinduja Hospital”
Why are you saying so emphatically Dr Modak, Lord Vishnu sounded surprised.
“Because, I know that death due to COVID will be painful but if I survive by your grace then I will continue to die as no one will talk to me and desert me as someone untouchable. And if I die, then my folks will find very difficult to get rid of my body and get a death certificate”
“I understand” Lord Vishnu said with compassion.
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