When my dear friend Mathur Sahab forwarded the first ( or second…?) draft of his novel “Qatl Kii Aadat”, I thought that it was one of those ‘inspired works’. (I knew how ardent he was a fan of Hindi pulp fiction and Agatha Christie…Quite a contrast that is!!) So here it was, I thought, a combo of Christie and Pathak! How wrong was I…
Don’t know why I took such a whale of a time to finish reading it? But once I did … millions of questions hounded me day and night. And prime amongst those that sought an indisputable answer was: “Was it that easy to kill?”
Now to kill or murder has varied connotations. Going by the dictionary meaning killing is that act which leads to the end of a mortal body. End here means a physiological or biological disconnect. When inhalation and exhalation of breath stop and the body goes limp and the tongue hangs out if one is strangulated and the eyes pop out or go vacant ….uff! that was quite a graphic description…in short it means when a living thing is pronounced dead!!
But is it the ultimate end? No, there are thousand reasons why it is not and there are thousand more reasons why one should not think death is the sovereign remedy to all maladies of life…it is obviously not! Why? Because the highly spiritual ones will say death is just the beginning…while the mind steeped in materialism will say let’s see what was left behind….in terms of accumulated wealth….all boring non-living things (movable and immovable ones at that!), you see! What else?
So death has its own consequences….some are relieved, some are morose, for a few days, at least, for various reasons, some are indifferent and some are genuinely sorry that you died without saying goodbye to them. Strange I feel when I talk of death…that cold, limp feeling which has an awkward permanence about it….the feeling that there is no U-turn next..
Tagore says, “I shan’t die before I am dead”….yep! this is what it is….regardless of the fact that we are going to leave this planet earth for our heavenly abode one day too soon…………the realization which has about it is that doomed feeling of certitude and that despairing panic of never-to-return-again to this world of happy incongruities and topsy-turvy turmoil, yet and yet, we still have innumerable occasions of dying before we are actually dead!!
Do we realize that….ever? No, we don’t because we are idiotic enough to believe that breathing in and out is the sole proof of “staying alive”. It is not! I have killed myself several times when I succumbed to a compromise after each failure or at every cross road where my aspirations suffered a head-on collision with the hard hitting realities of life…….the objective and the subjective considerations…………the former told me ‘go grab it’ and the latter pulled me back whispering into my ears ten thousand ‘good’ reasons of not doing so.
I killed myself again when I suppressed my inner most ‘self’ in the quest for survival. Did I take the easy route? No, I did not. I took the wrong turn? Yes, a number of times. There was a point in life when I thought doing the difficult thing was being brave and bold. Today, I am undecided on that issue. Yet, just very recently, when I chanced open a rusty cupboard and wrenched the creaky doors open, tumbled out a bunch of ‘clothes’ which were stashed in the unreachable recesses of those lightless shelves layered with dust and hinges jammed with rust. As they poured out, [those old, forgotten, forgiven or must I say forbidden too(?) sartorial remnants] on me unawares, for a moment, I was nonplussed and did not know how to handle them. Should I smoothen these rumpled ones out? And rearrange them again in neat stacks? Keep them back where they were? Or untie the bundle, sort them out, discard the ones which are ‘unusable’ and try those out again which are ‘wearable’? I couldn’t do any of these as they lay scattered around me. I died again and again and again as I failed to gather my wits and clear things out within me.
When I was young, hatred seemed to be a great motivating force. It kept me going for many, many years. I kept the abominable part of my life alive within me, prized battling strength out of these and thought how extraordinary was I to have them in my possession till it was revealed to me, one fine morning, that what I was doing to myself was arsenic………..slow-poisoning. I was killing my soul!!!
As away I move from my own vortex, I suffocate myself each and every way. As I hurt others with my indifference, I kill myself all the more. As I burn with desire unfulfilled, my death becomes inevitable, perhaps untimely. As I repent I murder that part of me which had once had faith. As I aim higher I get buried in an airless hole with no opening to let the oxygen flow in. I kill as I grill myself to be the best, to be the most obedient, dutiful, honourable, anxious to please and hard to get. The devil sharpens his claws and his horns shine in the sun, as I bow down to pray forgiveness to the Lord.
Sometimes, in the dead of the night I wake up and cup my palm to my nostrils …yes, am alive but dead……….a living dead! Can you hear me cry out in pain as my breath gets choked little by little and the hands of my karma lovingly squeeze my neck like uncorking a long-necked bottle of choicest wine…I smell death close behind…
And you said I was living? Eh? Haah!!!!
Murder is really not that easy but at the same time we kill ourselves so often, so easily without our knowing…………..strange, isn’t it?