He often wondered why they feared death.
Why did people fear something that was as unpredictable, untimely and entangled as, life? The irony of life and death amused him as he tried to reason with his self that was refused to be afraid, nay even affected, by the thought of death. Perhaps there was something wrong with him? If almost everyone feared it, he ought to be, too. He crossed busy lanes blindfolded. He played with knives. He even climbed up multi-storeyed buildings and peek at the bottom, only to realize that even heights did not scare him.
When he was six, he met with a major road accident. His mother often narrated the story of how he “fought death” and emereged victorious by defeating it. He was in a state of coma for over three months before he regained consciousness and could see, feel and realise people around him. He did not have much memory of it but he still remembered how his mother proudly told neighbours that her son had two birthdays. One was the day when she gave birth to him; the other when he gave birth to himself. All over again. By conquerring death.
When he was sixteen, his mother died. Death, the one abstract entity that he had successfully conquered at a very early age, did not spare his mother. It did not make any sense to him.He had always believed himself to be his mother’s son. Clearly, he had learned the art of defeating death from her. It was obviously in his genes. If he knew it, it was because she did. Then why couldn’t she defeat death in her battle with cancer?
His mother had left him. Forever. And why? Because she could not fight death. Absence of fear turned into a strong presence of hatred. He not only began hating death and its supposed, make-believe dominance over people, he loathed those who feared it. People misunderstood this as his bravery. They saw him as a young boy who was the fearless child of a fighting woman, whose death had made him even more gritty. But he rubbished such claims. His mother’s death had simply changed his perception towards it. From indifference to vagueness to complete hatred.
Today he is twenty-six and engaged to a woman he loves the most in the world. Thoughts of death don’t surround him anymore because he feels he has suddenly met life all over again. He knows what it is to be alive and how wonderful that feeling it. And it wouldn’t have been so had she not been a part of it.
Sometimes, he wonders how it would have been had his mother been alive today. He knew these were the only two woman in his life with whom he had the strength, will and power to express his love freely. Perhaps that came from the fact that he was sure of his love for them. Nobody else made him happier. Nobody else made him feel saner. There was no one else whom he frankly cared so much about. He had lost one, when he had barely known love. And he had found another, when he felt he finally understood love.
He wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. He wanted to have babies with her and grow old in a small, cottage house that was surrounded by a clear lake. Perhaps even a hammock where they could rest in each others’ arms and reflect on how happy and satisfied their life had shaped up. Together.
But it isn’t easy to predict how life would be, say, thirty years from now.
Would he still be committed to the woman he thinks he loves the most? Would he still want to spend the rest of his life with her? Would he still want to grow old with her at that same small, cottage house that was surrounded by a clear lake? Would he still enjoy the warmth of her presence on the hammock? Would they really reflect on their life of togetherness? Would they really be together so long?
As she vowed to take him as her husband, in sickness and in health, “till death parts us”, it finally struck him.
Yes, death still did not scare him.