The good news is that in about two weeks time the world may end. The bad news is that there is a theoretical possibility of a few surviving it and you being among them. I don’t want to sound alarmist here, but the fact is that another person who has the same statistical probability to escape the end of the world, of course, is Digvijay Singh. Imagine sharing a world mostly all alone with Digvijay Singh especially in a scenario in which you can’t even tweet some jokes on him (yes, scientific evidence suggests that your twitter password is sure to be among the casualties in an end-of-the-world situation).
I can imagine some of you already shouting, ‘Stop it, Bala. How can you treat something as serious as the end of the world in such a puerile manner? How can you remain so casual?’ Well, to be honest with you, I have managed to develop a healthy non-materialistic and spiritual attitude towards life, especially since last week, after it became quite clear that I couldn’t use my credit card anymore as I had charged it till my credit limit.
Here I would like to pass on a nugget of wisdom that can stand the world in good stead till eternity, which coincidentally falls this month: ‘Real philosophy emerges out of the womb of an empty wallet’. The obvious corollary to this is: ‘That is why many journalists tend to philosophise a lot ’.
Talking of journalists, as one who has been one all along, I cannot but help wonder that in the event of the world ending, how we, newspapers, will report the event. Some of you, I am sure, are already piping up with the point, ‘why bother when there will be none to read the newspapers?’ Chill, all you smarty pants. If we had the sense to ask this question most of us would not be in this industry, because, as far as I can tell, the species ‘newspaper reader’, along with ’responsible parliamentarian’, became extinct almost a decade back. What we are surviving with is just their memories.
The one thing that springs to mind when discussing life-endings is the doubt whether there exist heaven and hell, and, if so, whether the latter actually resembles the Chennai airport terminal. My personal feeling is that hell will be slightly more passable, especially since there is little chance of the annoying security clearance. Still, there may be no escaping those airport sandwiches. I mean if that sandwich-seller doesn’t end up in hell I see no point in having a hell at all.
Anyway, most of our views on death and its aftermath are mostly chiselled by the religious beliefs we adhere to. For instance, my religion, Hinduism, which throws up the concept of reincarnation, assures me that there will be a rebirth, which, in turn, gives me the much-needed courage and hope that in at least my next birth I may get to date somebody with the structure of Bipasha Basu.
The thing is religions may differ in their outlook on death and its after. But when you take a close look at all of them, you will find a remarkable similarity in all of them: Yes, they are way too silly to be taken seriously.
My own ideas on this subject were shaped by that wonderfully imaginative Hollywood film What Dreams May Come, based on the novel of the same name by Richard Matheson. Starring Robin Williams, Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Annabella Sciorra, the film, whose philosophical title is taken from a line in Hamlet’s To be, or not to be soliloquy, deals with a loving couple’s despair and sorrow after they lose their two children in a crash. The father, unable to overcome the grief, also dies. The mother, already depressed, slips into amnesia and commits suicide. (In a dramatically poignant scene, she is shown to be lying there just as a corpse, unable to remember or recollect that she has committed suicide. That is how bad her amnesia is).
A contemplative hour after watching this movie that mused upon many enigmatic topics, I jotted down three points that this film made to me: 1) Everyone, at some point of his/her life, eventually says: Everyone dies. 2) Amnesia is the only disease that we can possibly carry into our death. 3) Any cinematic/artistic exploration of death and its aftermath is pure gibberish. It is mighty pretentious, too.
That is why if I were you, and if the world is ending in a few days, I will not be reading this. I will be out there living it up, enjoying every minute of it, amidst the hope that when the world ends that it at least ends adequately in the part that Digvijay Singh lives.