Monday, December 16, 2013


People have many kinds of phobia in life. Fear of heights, fear of water, fear of closed spaces. There are many weird phobias in the world. My biggest fear in life is the fear of loss. I am scared to lose. Not in winning and losing kind of way, but losing something that is yours. It takes a lot of effort, time, energy, good luck to acquire, find, get something. And then to lose all of it in one flickering shot, is a scary scary proposition.

I was a very sentimental kid. I remember, I must be 10 year old, in the middle of a happy shiny family moment when everyone is laughing, singing, talking I would be all teary eyed, sitting quietly and sobbing. Reason being- “All this will be gone one day, we won’t be laughing like this, we all will die one day!” and I would burst into a crying spell. I would be made fun of or hugged and reassured and distracted with happy things in life. But what could they tell me? It is life’s ultimate truth, how could anybody defend my fear.

I clearly remember the moment when I got to know that EVERYONE has to die. I must have been 6 or 7 years old or maybe younger. It was summer vacations and our grandparents had come over. One idle afternoon, I was playing with my granny- teaching her A,B,C,D. . .when she remarked- “Oh, why do I need to learn all this? I am so old, I will die very soon, what’s the point of this now?” not really meaning it. It was just one of those things that old people like to say. And very sweetly I told her that she wouldn’t die, because she was such a good human being, my grandma, how can she die! To my utter shock and disbelief she told me that EVRYBODY dies, irrespective of everything. With a broken heart and thinking that my uneducated grandma didn’t know anything, I ran to my mum who was working on the computer. I was very angry when she told me that it was true. I think ‘angry’ is the right word to explain what I felt. It just made no sense to me. Why do people have to die, even if they are good? So you are behaving yourself, being a good girl, minding your business, not fighting with anyone. . .and then one day it’s all over? Without any rhyme or reason? Shouldn’t there be an explanation to why I must be pulled away from all the good things?

People have recurring nightmares, this was one such nightmare which haunted me in living daylights. And then at the age of 13, for the very first time in my life, I came face-to-face with death when my grandfather died. That is another tragic story, for another day. Although I didn’t quite wail and get depressed, the first feeling that hit me when I saw his corpse lying on the bed was that of hopelessness. Death is such a permanent, irreversible thing I realized. What can you say to someone whose loved one has died- “everything will be alright” ? coz it won’t be alright. Nothing you say can appease the loss.

As I grew up, I stopped thinking about deaths. There were more important things that drove my attention. But the fear of loss stayed with me. Even if it is a pen or a paper or a t-shirt I never wore or an ear-ring or a document or a book or a relationship. . . I have the greatest paranoia buried in the abyss of my heart, to lose.

I recently lost two acquaintances to bad road accidents. What wrenches my heart is that both the girls had an infectious zest for life- they were the kind of people you would remember having met them once. I would call them ‘full of life’, ironically, for their mad dreams and passions. Would they have ever thought, in their craziest of imagination, in their bluest of moments that they would die so young?

Why are we afraid of dying? Why are we conditioned to think that dying is bad? Not like the life we are living is great! There are so many problems, so much injustice, cruelty, hatred- perhaps after death you do actually go to heaven and things are great there. And people who die young in life are the ones who get a shortcut to that heavenly kingdom. God says, “You don’t have to endure the pain of life any longer, come to the party up here.”

God has a lot of explaining to do.


  1. You touched a raw nerve! I am so scared of this thought of dying, that the second my mind starts thinking about that, I just force distract myself.
    Some mysteries. :-/

    1. Mysteries, yes. And we are conditioned to believe that what we don't understand probably is bad.

  2. Sometimes you shock me with your deep rooted feelings and words.
    You presented all my fears but in a sophisticated way.

    It gives me chills to even think that the person whom you know will die sooner or later. I can’t bear the loss of somebody I love. The loss is so great that it starts to haunt me each and every second. Some works and places always bring forward the memories of the person who once lived along with us and shared all the joys. It is tough to even think that the same person can never talk to us, can never walk and we can never see him again.

    As a child I always used to (I still do) wish that nobody should die before I actually do(selfish me). After I’m dead then it does not matter whether what may happen because I’ll not be there to suffer the loss. Sometimes we see death as such a simple escape rather than actually facing the music of life. Even now I’m not afraid of death but I’m afraid of the death which takes my people far away from me.

    1. I am glad I could strike a chord with you somewhere.

      Talking about wishing to die before others, reminds me of another story. I remember when I was around 9 or 10, we had gone for a trek to a religious temple at the top of a HIGH mountain. The roads that time were really bad and crooked. And while coming back, we sat in a truck next to the driver. It was the scariest thing of my life till then, and I was 100% sure that we would fall into the valley and die. I had made up my mind to welcome death, but I was happy that the four of us (family) were going to die together.

      I laugh at the innocent memory now.

  3. You write very well (for an advertising rep !) I know a few others who started this way, and branched into books and writing features in their career. Keep sharpening your talents on this blog :-)

    I will comment later why I ended up in your archives (it is written to be posted at a later time - I try to limit to one comment a day, no need to overwhelm you - like you, I love a deep conversation), but this one I cannot let pass by :-

    > Why are we afraid of dying?

    Everyone is afraid of dying, deep inside. But distinguish this from being afraid of death.

    I lost my sister when she was very young. I have often thought about WHY it was so sad for me, the real deep meaning, not the overriding emotional feeling that everyone has when someone close dies - often without wondering WHAT makes one sad.

    And I think that this sadness is closely related to our own fear - I think both are because it is an irreversible life event, there is no going back, no opportunity to make up for missed events, no chance of a replay (we have been corrupted from the sacred truth "Live in the present" by technology which allows instant replays).

    We are made to embrace and preserve life, even though I believe that life continues "after death" (is that not the ultimate oxymoron), we are still scared of the transition.

    So when some people say they are afraid of dying of because "what if I am wrong", or worse, "what if I was not good enough", that is a fear of death, not the fear of dying.

    Conversely, when a non-believer says "I am afraid of a painful death", they actually mean they are afraid of dying painfully, the true atheist (is that an oxymoron? if you believe something that actually turns out to be false were you a true believer? ) - they have convinced themselves that death is complete non-existence, and in that sense there is nothing to be feared anymore. They don't consider the implications of being wrong.

    Anyone who says that they are not afraid of dying is just whistling in the dark - showing a mask, a brave face, a coping mechanism, a form of repression - call it what you will.

    Yes, I am afraid of dying, I hope it won't be a painful, anguished or stressful experience. I have told people I hope to be conscious and alert when I die, looking up at the beautiful blue sky. I want to confront and feel the transition - if there is no pain. I don't want just the sensation of falling asleep, or worse, being knocked out as per an anaesthetic (I dislike that, had one last year again, that is like the archetypal dying sensation).

    I am not at all morbid, my time is not due for many decades and I plan many, many life experiences still - but I will be ready for it whenever it happens. Like Juba (the Numidian tribesman) when he says to Maximus as he is dying, in the movie Gladiator, "Be happy to go to Elysium now, I will be happy too, but it is not my time yet."

    So am I afraid of death?

    Well I don't think of it as death, I think of it as spirit being released from its chains in the 3rd dimension (some nice analogies in the book Flatland). So I intend to live my life without a fear of death (but there are still three airlines I refuse to fly on, I don't court an untimely end, and I am afraid of dying oops - you are flying in a month :-(

    OK - when you get butterflies sitting in your seat about to take-off, break the ice with those around you on the plane with a joke (it is the 3rd funniest joke in my repertoire, the 2nd funniest is about Seamus in Dublin, and the funniest is about Norman in Roma - if you ask me, I will post these when you are walking around Europe next month) :-

    "I hope to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather, not screaming in terror like his passengers."

    1. I never thought of how fear of death would be different from fear of dying. Good point, there. For me I think, more than dying or death, it is the fear of loss - the feeling of helpless hopelessness, like there is no purpose anymore to what you do, everything is lost kind of feeling. That is what I fear. Losing purpose. Losing hope. Simply put, it is not fear of 'my' death, it is the fear of losing people close to me.

      P.S: Don't freak me out! Previously you mentioned Bárðarbunga, and now this! :( Don't don't don't!

    2. And yes I would like to hear the rest of the jokes :)

  4. Bárðarbunga was meant to be a :-)++

    Take some extra cash and exploit not being able to leave a nice holiday location for an extra two weeks, I am sure that your boss won't even dock the extra leave as it was outside your control (and if he does, tell him he will feature in Horrible Bosses III :-)

    The jokes I will relate (on your travel blogspot - for those you "don't love as much" :-) when you are actually in Europe.

    Finally, when you stare the reality and immediacy of death in the face, you may find that you actually gain meaning and purpose in both life and death (I have been through this twice - it really is a beneficial experience). I put together some memorabilia for my family, and wrote this section out which I think helps.

    The text was emphasized to show dialogue, I will try the html codes - apologies if these don't come through properly. The preview only complained about the underlining, so I hope they work.

    Rachel, a woman young in years but physically and emotionally worn out, knew that she would surely pass on in a few days.
    But when I talked to her she was cheerful in spite of this knowledge.
    'I am grateful that fate has hit me so hard,' she told me. 'In my time on earth I was spoiled, and did not take spiritual accomplishments seriously.'
    Pointing through the window she said, 'This tree here is the only friend I have in my loneliness.'
    Through that window she could see a chestnut tree, and on its branches were a few blossoms.
    'I often talk to this tree,' she said.
    I was startled - was she dreaming, delusional or hallucinating? I asked if the tree replied.
    What did it say to her?
    She answered, 'It said to me, "I am here - I am here - I am life, eternal life." '

    Rendition of "Man's search for meaning", by Viktor Frankl", 1946


I love hand-written notes :)