Have you ever come across a situation in which you found yourself at the brink of nothingness, we call death, staring blankly in your face?
Do you remember feeling scared? alarmed? mortified? Or was it just an indifferent iciness?
I've, now, come across the situation twice in the last ten years.
The first time was a good chunk of years back. It was a car accident.
The car got hit so bad, it actually went up in the air.
I remember aligning myself from behind the steering wheel so as to form a human shield for the pre-schooler son sitting beside me in the passenger seat. I wasn't panicked. I was thinking, reflecting very lucidly. In those few moments when the car wheels were not in touch with the ground, I had tried to estimate the impact and pushed son down towards the leg room. I remember very clearly, making a balance sheet of life in my head. A balance sheet, that since then, remained a reason of solace in my dark moments. I remember the epilogue of all those of major and minor moments that flashed through my head: "It wasn't perfect, but it was my all." There were no regrets. I recall asking myself that question categorically.
Basically, there seemed to be a lot of time in those moments. Lots of time with hitherto not experienced sense of clarity.
Surprisingly, when the car had landed back and rammed into a tree trunk just beside the road, son and I had both remained unharmed in the completely smashed car. The vehicle insurance team, later, found it implausible that anyone could have survived the accident, let alone unscratched.
That was my first brush with death. A glorious, calming, well aware sense of fulfillment. I loved it. It made me, in a way, look forward to it.
Yeah, that good!
And that was the basis of my hypothesis that the final moments of life come with utmost clarity. They make you objective, and let you have a bird eye's view of all that you'd lived through. I thought that staring into the abyss of nothingness, you realize, probably for the first time, of the richness you've possessed. And the worth (or lack thereof) of all that you're leaving behind. I felt that in the final moments you have a direct connection with the Ultimate. You could see, and be dazzled, by the grandeur of what you were about to meet.
At least this is what I thought.
Yun na tha, main nay faqat chaha tha yun ho jaey!
Some six years later, was the second time! This wasn't a car accident.
This situation of standing at the cusp of hast and neest was triggered by unwellness. And I discovered the dark side of nothingness.
It was a case of food poisoning due to some infectious fruit I consumed in the morning. Only it wasn't just that. Somewhere, it teamed up with an abnormal rise of blood pressure, that had somehow been brewing there all night and which I am not accustomed to experiencing. The two worked together to the point where I lost all sense of time and being. My only awareness seemed to stem from my editor's instincts (a job which I took rather too seriously, I realized), in trying to find the perfect adjectives to describe my situation. Everything was hazy. I could feel the outline of things, people floating away. There was noise, a lot of metallic noise. And amidst some smog I had a dim realization that I had to see if son had had lunch. I called out to him. I remember struggling for air, and thinking if this is the end what is it called ... Death is a cold word, I deserve a better word ... A warm, soft word. My mind was a game of chess gone bonkers. Thinking of it now, it was as suffocating as one's thought can permit. Perhaps more. I forced myself to think of the Ultimate I was about to meet ... the end of a struggle I had so passionately embraced. However, with the metallic noise in my ears, and the choking shortening of breath, I didn't know what to think. I tried to recall Ayat Kareema, my favourite wird. One I only stop reciting for teesra kalma, if ever. And it seemed like so much effort. The smoke was just too much to breathe, too much to let words take a form. The mind was a mesh of chaos and panic. And a loud speaker somewhere yelling possible scenarios of the situation the son would've to deal with afterwards. I hated it. I hated it all.
Eventually it all faded into blackness.
This was my second brush with death. Yeah, I know ... it's not as dramatic as a car ramming into something solid, nor is as thrilling. But the doctor, whom I got to see some seven hours later, thought it to be enough dramatic for me to confirm that it was indeed my second chance at surviving the obvious ordeal.
You know what did I realize now?
My new hypothesis is that one's own mind could be the worst company to have in the final moments of departure. When the chemicals inside the body are having a world war situation, there's only chaos. Imagine the scene of a nuclear explosion ... the hysteria, the frenzied panic, the madness, all accompanied by dark blinding clouds of stifling smoke. There is nothing kind about it. No nice adjective to associate with the experience. That is how an unwell person feels when sliding down the abyss of nothingness. There was nothing glorious, nothing clear, no recollection of any worth ... This was grim.
I have come to learn that death does not have a monotone.
I have also come to realize that the raging war of chemicals within humans is hardly ever visible. I, too, was my wholesome looking self when undergoing this intimidating encounter.
Probably there was a lesson in this entire episode. Who knows? We often demand logical explanations of behavior from people we deal with. Who knows how many of them are struggling with existence beyond the realm of reason. Who knows how they keep listening to the deafening noise in their ears day in, day out.
Be khudi aaThoN pehar ho, ye zaroori tou nahi!
So what I really want to say is ...
Be kind when there is still life!