From Life Unto Death Leave out the highly evolved souls but to the rest of the mankind, death is the most terrorizing aspect of life. Though we all know that dying is after all a part of living, we just do not want to go through that phase of our living. Most of us would love to believe that death will never strike us while some shrug it off saying, ‘When it comes, it comes. Why bother about it now?’ This arises out of our belief that there are millions far elder to us and we still have a long way to go as compared to them. Death unfortunately does not strike us chronologically. That is why it is said that we must live our life like there is no tomorrow! Why is death so horrifying? Because it’s a journey from which no one ever returns to write a travelogue telling us which is the best place to stay and what are the sights to see. This journey continues to be highly mystifying, which no one wants to undertake. Our Scriptures may eulogise this journey with a beautiful description of how the Soul crosses the ethereal River Vaitharani on its heavenward trip but we refuse to get enthused about it! There is a dialogue by the eminent writer Sujatha in the latest Rajni block-buster ‘Shivaji’ which goes like this, “If you know that you are going to die tomorrow, your life today will become hell” The most dreadful aspect of death is, therefore, the awareness of its timing. We are all happy and able to carry on our lives merrily because we know not when our end will come. But if that fact is made known to us, our life will take a top-spin! I have seen many people with terminal illness who are aware of their approaching death and each one reacts to it differently. Some go all out to enjoy themselves but they are very rare cases. Many keep brooding over their past and the life after death. Some become very introspective and feel penitent about the wrongs they have committed against their fellow humans. Here is a true story of such a penitent person. I have heard natives of my village telling me that if Kumaresan took a walk in the street all the women would rush into their homes and bolt the doors. Such was his reputation in the village. If the more rationalistic of you are of the view that the kind of villainy that you see in films can never exist in real life, you would change it the moment you encounter him. You could justify some of his actions only if you applied the standards of animals. The way he slave-drove his daughter in law would make you shed tears of blood. There were no beggars in that village thanks to him. It was not his generosity that caused this miracle to happen but his cruel habit of setting his German shepherds after them that drove them all out of the village. His wife bore all the telltale marks of his cruelty and even their physical unions at rare occasions could at best be described as his assault on her. I could go on and on but suffice it to say that the parents of little kids in the village always used his name effectively to put the fear of god in their wards and quieten them. One fine morning, Kumaresan noticed a small swelling in his neck while shaving. He felt it with his fingers and never felt any discomfort. A week later, he noticed it again but did not think much about it. Two weeks passed and the swelling was still there but by now had grown a little. He was not still feeling any discomfort but felt a bit odd having it there like an unwanted extra fitting. So he went and saw a Doctor who did all the tests and took a bit of the swelling for biopsy. He was asked to come back after a week for the results. In the meanwhile, the villainy of our friend went on unabated and every day he was scaling new heights in such acts which made him a terror in the village. In the following week he was too busy chasing a new virgin in the village and skipped his visit to the Doctor. He visited him the week after to be told that he had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in a fairly advanced stage and it could be life-threatening. Kumaresan just could not believe what he heard. He felt dazed. He collected his results and walked quietly back to his place. When he reached home his daughter in law came running with a pot of water and a towel to enable him to wash his feet as was his custom. He took the towel from her and smiled at her kindly. The poor girl was totally disconcerted by the unexpected smile and dropped the pot on his feet. In the normal circumstances, this would have earned her a resounding slap but the man gently admonished her for the unnecessary panic that she was feeling towards him. The following days saw Kumaresan changing more and more. He became highly compassionate and was lavish in his generosity. He endeared himself to everyone and spent considerable time in the company of children. His acts of retribution towards his wife almost embarrassed the poor lady. Very soon the cruel villain in Kumaresan was totally forgotten. Two months later, an old crony of Kumaresan heard of his lymphoma and took him for a second opinion to an expert from abroad who was in the city on an invitation to treat a Minister. The expert repeated the tests and, after a thorough study of the results, declared the swelling to be very benign. A simple surgery would help him get rid of it and there was no lymphoma or any other danger to his life. Kumaresan was overjoyed hearing the verdict in his favour and returned home with a song on his lips. Seeing him arrive at the door, his daughter in law greeted him with a smile and offered the pot of water. He slapped her hard for daring to smile at him warning her that he would wring her neck next time she showed her dirty teeth! Hearing the commotion his wife rushed outside to see what was happening and one look at her husband’s face told the experienced lady that the villain in Kumaresan was back with a vengeance.