Death doesn’t have to be something morbid. Especially if one considers what Rabindranath Tagore said about death being ‘completion’ and not the ‘end’ of life (or so I remember from a Hindi lesson in school).

This article isn’t necessarily the working of a depressed mind, nor inspired by film actor Sridevi’s unexpected demise or that of an aged and loving relative who was bedridden the past few months. It’s literally based on a thought triggered off during an evening walk. Maybe it was the state of Kolkata roads that was the trigger!

Unfortunately, the issues around death that crowd our minds on a daily basis are mostly terrifying or sad ones – terrorism, gun control, natural (and manmade) calamities, heartbreak, abandonment, suicide, murder, domestic violence, food poisoning, malnutrition, disease, pollution, medical negligence, overdose, accidents, plane crashes . . . politicians too I think . . .

But does it have to be this way? Why can’t there be more thoughts around death with dignity, dying in harness, or issues like organ donation and leaving behind a meaningful legacy of work and resources?

By and large, we can’t choose the time, place or situation in which to die. Practices like voluntary euthanasia and sallekhana (Jain religious practice of voluntarily fasting to death) notwithstanding, death is generally not in our control.

Neither is life in our control. We do have contraception, abortion, medical treatment, and even religion, insurance, penile enlargement and vaginal whitening! But at a larger level, I think the best control mechanism we have is to stop, think about any one or two positive things around our death that will make the cycle of life richer for everyone, act on it as much as we can, and then hope for the best.

I hope I can leave behind a shelter for the lonely, a café with books and baking recipes, and an urban forest. The cherry on top will be to have a circle of friends and enemies around me as I cross over. If that’s too much of a logistical nightmare, then I can settle for the company of trees on the seashore, or the snugness of a side lower berth on a long train journey.

Graphic credit: Pawan Dhall (artwork created with Windows Microsoft Paint software)