September 26 is an important day in my life’s timeline. This year, I marked it once again but with a decision I have been long mulling over. To me, it was significant, though it could be a passing trifle for others.
As you may well know, invariably when I write a piece or post something on social media, that involves a critical comment touching upon a person or persons, policies, religious rituals or a decision of the state or the federal regimes, too many well wishers rush to proffer advice to me, counseling me "to take it easy” and either "why annoy anybody” or "do not annoy anybody at all.”
At times, friends with an intellectual bent of mind, are quick to quote Surjit Patar:
ਏਨਾ ਵੀ ਸੱਚ ਨਾ ਬੋਲ ਕਿ 'ਕੱਲਾ ਰਹਿ ਜਾਵੇ,
ਚਾਰ ਕੁ ਬੰਦੇ ਛੱਡ ਲੈ ਮੋਢਾ ਦੇਣ ਲਈ
Aina vi sach na bol k kalla reh jaawein,
chaar ku bande chadd lae modha den lyi.
(Don’t speak so much truth that you are left alone,
You must leave at least four persons unprovoked, who may act as your pall bearers)
For a few days now, I have been wondering what if after my demise, my family is unable to convince four people to act as pall bearers and coolie my body to the cremation grounds (delectably named Swarga Dham
)? Will they have a sense of guilt, and will I be blamed for making them feel guilty?
Serendipitously, I came across this quote by an American artist and thinker, David Wojnarowicz:
I worry that friends will slowly become professional pallbearers, waiting for each death, of their lovers, friends and neighbors, and polishing their funeral speeches; perfecting their rituals of death rather than a relatively simple ritual of life such as screaming in the streets.
Soon I was contemplating different scenarios after I stopped breathing continuously for several decades: What if my body is not cremated or buried or immersed in water? Would it make it any difference to my soul? For what’s a body without a soul!
So, I have decided that there should not arise an occasion for my body to wait unattended for a pair of four shoulders to dispose it off.
I know that I was possibly not very useful during my lifetime on this planet, but at least my dead body should serve some purpose.
Hence, I have pledged to donate my dead body for the purpose of medical research. I am pledging to donate all of my harvestable organs.
Doctors should extract whatever useful organs and then handover the cadaver to medical students for their research and practical work.
My request to my family members, relatives, friends and persons who even remotely know me, is that if my death happens somewhere nearer to you, please inform the concerned authorities immediately so that they can take my dead body to appropriate hospital/institution without wasting time as organs have very little time window during which these stay good enough for recycling.
INITIALLY, I had decided to pledge to donate my organs after my death. My understanding was that after extracting whatever useful organs, the remains will be handed over to my family and they will cremate it.
When I discussed this with my son, the young man asked me with a mischievous smile and twinkling eyes, "But Sardar (he addresses me like that whenever he is sure of having a scoring point), how do you know that your organs would be fit enough to be of some usage? What will be the utility of the entire exercise if your organs are not useful? ”
I was happy that at last we are on the same page, even if on a rather morbid subject.
I asked him, what if I donate my dead body for research and practical work of medical students. His response was, ‘I don’t mind but am not sure if even your corpse will be of any use.’
At that point, I realized that this Ullu ka patha
was feeling relieved that he won’t have to bother to handle my dead body, arrange ice slabs, make funeral arrangements, gather people for carrying my corpse to the cremation ground and then collect ashes and immerse the same into some apparently holy water body. After all, that’s the way a dead body is treated.
But this time, I don’t want to disturb his easy go lucky lifestyle and his fun life.
So, thanks everyone and relax, ye buddies, you don’t have to bother to come and say goodbyes, carry a sackload on your shoulders, and wonder what time to reach the cremation site — before they set me ablaze, or just when the prayer ceremony is over and people are disbursing. Consider yourself free. Some of you have been dead to me anyway for years now, and others will long live in my memories. Some of those memories, possibly, in other bodies! Unnerving? Eh! That was exactly the idea.
(kanwar manjit singh is the founder editor/publisher of a little-known media house, Punjab Today, and usually disregarded for his insane write-ups, posts and tweets)
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