If you go to Bhutan, and you must because it’s my favorite country, then you will find that for a nation that pursues ‘Gross Domestic Happiness,’ its people are curiously obsessed with death. And since I am obsessed about happiness, then it follows that I am obsessed with death too, right?
So, one day, I created a little document that I shared with my friend. In it are instructions on what she has to do with my ashes. Bear with me. This is not one of my morose, melancholic posts. So, first, I don’t want to be buried, I tell her. But I want a resting place where you can come and lay little flowers and cry poetically. So far, so good thought the friend. “Hmm, go on.”
Then followed the horror. I tell her this:
“You should then take some of my ashes and do the following:
- Climb the Flower and Fruit Mountain in Lianyungang, China and sprinkle a little there.
- Climb Emei Shan in China in winter and sprinkle some there.
- Climb Halla-San, South Korea’s tallest mountain, and..well…you know what to do, right?”
Those are all places that I loved – places that involved a lot of pain climbing. My ‘will’ states that she must also run 81 km in 24 hours. After listening to this list, my friend cried. With tears running down her face, she told me, “I don’t want you to die.” And no. That wasn’t because of the pain of losing me. It’s because of the pain that awaits her if she has to follow this. She who hates climbing mountains must climb all these. And she who doesn’t enjoy ultra-endurance events must now run one. I chuckle with sheer joy when I think of it.
That made me think of all the reactions I envisage to my death. Here’s what they might say when they hear I am dead:
Birdy (It’s the friend I refer to): Breaks down and starts sobbing. Everyone around her pats her and whisper to each other, “They were very close friends, you know. It’s hard for her.” Meanwhile, Birdy, still sobbing, thinks: It’s not what you all think, you fools. No. Turns to me, lying on the floor/bed: You fucking bitch. You fucking bitch. I knew you would die and make me do all this.
Anita (a school friend): Oh, Mittu is dead? *opens WhatsApp and looks up the old school group. “Guys, we all need to plan for a class reunion. Mittu died.”
Client: Oh, Smitha died? I wish she had told me beforehand! Very inconvenient! And how do I get another writer at such short notice? Shit ya. Do I have to pay that last invoice now? This is very unprofessional!
Poodle (an old friend of 20 years): Oh, I must pray for her poor soul and try to understand what God has in store for her. *gets down on her knees
(Poodle and I have had long discussions on the nature of God)
Girl Permanently Known as Blocking Girl: SM died? Wow! You mean I can finally unblock her now? Like really? Yayayay! Wait, she might haunt me as a ghost. Let me just keep her blocked.
Sweet Shabin: Smits! Don’t worry. Stay chill. Watch ‘Kumbalangi Nights’ there, ok? And have tea every day there. And keep posting pictures, ok?
Voozy (old friend) : Papa Birdy! What Gudie! Who will get me dolls now? I need to read an Islam-based book immediately now to celebrate, though.
Psychologist/Counselor Nilom: Well, it’s natural for me to feel upset about Smitha M’aam’s death. I need to process these emotions I am feeling and allow for a natural release. Grief has many stages and I am going to be aware of these stages. *goes for a pranayam yoga class to begin the healing process.
AK (Another old friend) : (………..) *Reaches for the whisky.
Dave and Karen: I think it’s about time we plan a trip to India, what do you think? *checks flights
Mahesh: Very lucky! Enjoy maadi. *Turns to the person delivering the news and asks, “Shall we go for a beer?”
PV: (He of old, unrequited love and unexpressed feelings from 2002): What to do, da? Everything is anicca (impermanent). I always lo…*chokes, and still doesn’t say it.
Unnamed Ex-Fiance: I can’t go to her apartment any more and try to convince her of “open” marriages? Damn. *posts pictures of happy, grinning wife and kids on Facebook while scrolling through Tinder.
Sheetal (New friend): Spikey and I send our love. Also, Smitha, I have been finally gaining self-worth and learning self-respect, and learning to deal with all these shit bitches at work, and being happy with myself, and caring about Spike, and…*stops to send a picture of the Dalmatian sniffing at flowers.
Ah, life. And death. How do we live well enough to die well enough? 🙂 How lucky I am to have had so many of you grace me with your quirks, your personality, and presence in my life!
Disclaimer: This is just meant to be a tongue-in-cheek post and not intended to offend anyone. Laugh a little at yourself and at me. 🙂 Trust me. Humor = happiness too.