The Art of Dying

Mrityu Ki Kala

When the blues take over and when your mood is down, depression takes hold of your mind. When you begin to see that life has just given you lemons in return even after all the hard work, just visit your nearest hospital. My grandmother, who is now ninety, had a sudden heart attack today and I had to rush to be by her side to comfort her. They say that the attack was mild and the tests have shown blockages in all her arteries. They are trying to help her as they feel that operations are a definitive no-no at this age.

I spent the entire day at the hospital and saw the real game of life and death. Just next to my gran, a younger woman had just arrived after her bypass surgery. Suddenly, something went wrong and she fell into a coma. In minutes, there was pandemonium as doctors and nurses ran and tried to revive her. One doctor pumped away at her chest trying to get her heart beating again while the others checked the ratings on the monitor. In minutes, the game was over as the lady collapsed into a deep sleep and eventually stopped breathing completely. It was hopeless – the 5-minute dash to save her and revive her. The doctors all tried their best but it was her time to go. Now, she was no nothing but a dead body.

From the corner, her family members howled and wept at her passing. There was wailing all around. Yes! It was all over in minutes. I turned to my grandmother, held her hand and looked at her with a smile. “You look like Bhishma Pitamah on a bed of arrows. Is it your time also to go?” She looked at me and said, “Who I am to say? I have been waiting to depart for years but when the time will come, it will come.”

As I walked out into the lobby, another patient was being wheeled away on a stretcher for his operation, as nurses and ward boys ran from one end to the other with bottles of syrups and injections. The waiting room was full of visitors and guests wanting to be with their loved ones in the hour of need. I was happy that I was here to comfort my grandmother and look after her when she needs me the most. However, the hospital visit had shaken me out of my mellow haze and depression. I mean, look at me. I was still 44 young, had just climbed Kailash and trekked to Antarctica. I was fit with no ailments. Yes, I have put on weight but so what? I was fit to walk 5 km every day and eat like a pig. I had nothing to mope and whine about. My suffering was nothing in front of these people. The sick and the needy – all they want is to get better, live life fully, and if they are to die here, then die in peace and without much pain. That is the wish every patient has in the hospital. To die a painless peaceful death with as little physical suffering as possible.

Yes, the hospital is the perfect place to give you a perspective about life and how fortunate one is. But until the very end, no one is giving up. Life is fighting death all the time. Sustenance is fighting destruction all the time. In the hospital, I was witness to this very battle between life and death. This was the gladiators’ arena where life was fighting death. It was winning in one corner and losing the battle in the other corner. Yes! I was truly witnessing the art of dying here. Some patients created havoc and commotion before they passed away. Others just went silent in their sleep never to breathe again. I guess one makes a lot of noise and is in great pain when one is still attached to the world, its bonds and its material pleasures. When deaths come, you resist it and fight it, as you do not want to go.

However, my gran was different. She said her attachments were soon withering away. She knows when the final hour will come. These are great saints who embrace death as they have been waiting for it all along. My gran is such a woman, a godly lady, who will go away silently and in peace with the minimum fuss. This is because she has been waiting for this moment all along. My gran knows the art of dying. The key is detaching yourself from the world and all its bondages before one departs.

So learn the art of dying…


Read my first book SURVIVAL covering the best ways to overcome traumas and setbacks in life.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: