The horrifying news of the recent Norwegian tragedy, though an incident that occurred thousands of miles away and to the people completely unfamiliar, made this scribe much upset and ruminate for long. In fact, this should have been a matter come in this and go out that ear at a time when the world seems to be parched to the limit wanting blood, the spilling of fresh human blood and in countless measure when my own country has been at the crossroads of such shoot and run extravaganza, my concern for these far off men might sound not much justifiable. But somehow it feels nowadays all men, even nature, have been unavoidably associated with one another and incidents in any part of the world affect people from any other parts. The frequent explosions in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere that have killed many Nepalis have rendered many Nepali women widowed and children destitute. The ambition of America and her allies and the vengeance of Bin Laden (or his successors) intertwine the entire mankind more or less directly and hence no one can escape their tragic (or joyous—if any) outcome. Though the actual reason for this madness is not known yet, still killing anyone in any pretext is inhuman and damnable.
Besides, this cruel manslaughter reminded me of the famous stanza of Kingsley Amis and set me in great shock about the nature and certitude of death. The stanza reads:
‘Death has got something to be said for it:
There’s no need to be out of bed for it;
Wherever you may be,
They bring it to you, free.’ (from Delivery Guaranteed )
How ironic but how fitting! In any part of this world one must make payment for whichever service or whatever purchase, but not death. It’s found free of cost! Even one doesn’t need to take a slight effort to find it as it comes itself to where the victim is. In the present case, the 93 youths were in a camping spree far from the roads or the towns or any hustle-bustle of everyday chores. Death came to them unexpected and unnoticed, of its own effort and in a flash offered them His free service. The same was true with seven others killed in the car-bomb explosion the day before and the victims of the recent or a year old Mumbay blast. Same with the death of brother Karjai or with the death of Laden, Indira Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi, Luther King Jr., Kennedy, Lincoln or those millions killed in Hitler’s gas chambers. None wanted death, none invited it nor went looking for it. Death came to them, as stated by Amis, where they were.
And the most intriguing thing is that giving death is not easy or without charge. In fact, every death one gives is tagged with far serious consequences than the joy or the satisfaction the killer usually must have imagined before or experienced during the act. For giving death incurs death in return through execution or the immediate counterattack or a long and tiring process of legal prosecution and finally in the form of life imprisonment along with a waste of a lot financial resources. And as bonus every death incurs the killer as well separation from all the kith and kin and with an irredeemable wound in the heart of every one related. Still the giver offers it without any price or service making every effort and expense by himself! Isn’t it wonderful?
This aspect of death is quite challenging because death is always like that uninvited, offered without effort and cost. A fanatic was giving death at the Utoiya island of Norway, and here in Nepal, a jeep plunged into the Kaligandaki River thereby giving uninvited and a cost-free death to the seven passengers of the ill-fated vehicle. There may be hundreds of such marauding episodes of death staged throughout the world irrespective of the differences of the victims’ identity, time, place, means or method and whoever the killer, but with one common characteristic-- that they were given death where the victims were, they were given without the victims’ wish and without charging any price for the service.
There is a strange notion associated with death. Most people believe that death is already scheduled with birth and it is unavoidable. No death is possible otherwise or other ways than the prior arrangement. And that’s why when one desires death He is nowhere to be seen but when one wants to avoid, He knocks the door at any time.
That’s why it’s quite interesting to note that people call every instance of death ‘untimely’ because no one knows the right time of one’s death. One can die any time after one’s birth, be it just a minute later or hundred years or more. That’s why in Nepali language death is used synonymously to kala--time. They say– ‘one died because of the kala;’ ‘kala took one away’; ‘none can escape kala’ and so on. Following this fact perhaps may have many famous poets enumerated this truth in striking verse-lines. One is ‘Kala Mahima’ by Nepalese poet Lekhnath Paudyal:
…ayo tappa tipyo lagyo miti pugyo tarera tardaina tyo
Just in the same way James Shirely summarises it in his verse ‘Death the Leveller’—
..’And must give up their murmuring breath
When they, pale captives, creep to death…’
Death is always painful, an extremely painful experience just fleeting to those who die but a long course of rigorous forbearance to those who survive behind. The spouse of a deceased man, the orphaned children of deceased parent (s), the death of those whom children, old, physically impaired ones are dependent upon; know the exact intensity of the pain.
But death is a natural process too. For nature the death of a man might be as simple as the death of any other animal as an egg dropped from the nest or an apple snapped from the branch or a hare hunt by the jackle. But since man has been a rational being, an animal with so many superior abilities like ability to speak, laugh and cry, to deceive, to plan systematically, organize and execute an to get confused and err and create his own world, he has no longer remained all dependent on the nature. Besides, loaded with extensive experience and range of observation, he has developed his own theory, opinion and interpretation about the universe—its origin, working procedure and every living and non-living thing here including himself. All these findings have fuelled his vision, ambition and idealism, e.g.:
To dream the impossible dream
To reach the unreachable star…(Joe Darion)
As a result man sees everything, including death, from exclusive perspective. True too, a life begins to grow, blossom and dry and decay in its own process not by undue and untimely interference. To kill a man arbitrarily overcome by whims of this or that kind or simply out of anger or want is not manlike. Of course, because of the complicated turn the human world has been ever taking, man has been discontent, quarrelsome and intolerant. As a traveler lost in the forest he has been lost in the things and ideas of his own invention. Most importantly, none of them has been absolute and final because of the never ever predictable dynamism of the universe and its variability in all aspects; his interpretations remain no more than the observation of an elephant by the blind men. Hence there is no place far off vis-à-vis the question of death or killing, even coercion and despotic attitude in the management and running of human society be it whatever level—a family or an association/union, a state or interstate. Still as days are inevitably followed by nights such inhuman behaviours have been part of the civilization despite man’s invention of electricity, solar energy and many other light producing devices. Let’s hope man will before long learn to use these lights to light his insight as well.
The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.