Death did not come quickly enough.
It came swiftly, but not quickly enough.
He had been anticipating it for sometime. He had been thinking about it. Toying with the idea of dying. He remembered that he had once read a book called ‘The Art Of Dying’. When he picked it up from the book store, he had thought to himself, “Why would anyone write a book like this?”. And then something inside told him that it might be interesting. It might have something in it that he might want to read. To him death was a mystery and this book intrigued him. So he picked it up. And started reading it at night. After dinner. After everyone else in the house was asleep. Even death seemed to be asleep. And he read it through the night. Twice.
Then he knew he was going to die. Soon.
And he was prepared for it. He was mentally ready for it, for the book had shown him the way, the light that he needed to see. He knew when he was going to die and how. And he knew it would happen quickly.
So he lived every Friday night as if there was no tomorrow. Because he was going to die on a Saturday. He was not going to wake up from his sleep. He was going to die in his sleep. Dreaming dreams, and floating away. Because that was just the way that he wanted it to happen. And it was just the way it was destined for it to happen.
And every Friday he did things that he would never do otherwise. That he never dreamed of doing. He wanted to see life for everything that he wanted out of it. So every Friday night he lived his dreams. Some were simple and he could do it spontaneously, but some had to be planned over a period of time. So he made a list. A list of all the things that he wanted to do before he died. There were 52 in all. And another 10 in case death took its time. This was the list of life. The list that he needed to complete before he completed his life.
The list lay by his bedside table on the morning before he died. Neatly, one by one, every thing on it had been crossed out. Some of them twice.
See, death did come quickly, but not swiftly enough. So he had a second chance, he could go back and do some of his favourite things again. But he wanted to do one thing the night before he died. And he kept trying to time it correctly. But even though you knew, you couldn’t be too sure about death.
The night before he died something told him that he had overstayed his welcome. That it was time. That the time was coming. So he did what he wanted to do the most. And came back home. And crossed that item off his list for the second time. And went to sleep.
But the next morning he woke up. And wondered whether he had died. But he had not. Death had not come when it was supposed to. And he looked around and saw everything fading away. Slowly. In slow motion.
And he knew that death had come. It had not come quickly enough but it had come swiftly.
And ‘The Art Of Dying’ lay by his bedside, completed for the second time since he read it twice that night. And it was discovered beside him, almost new, like his death.
But under the book, was a complete manuscript and it began with the last line of the book, “I can now reply: I rewrote your last manuscript, the one that was lost, from memory.”
The line “I can now reply: I rewrote your last manuscript, the one that was lost, from memory.” has been used from Githa Hariharan’s ‘The Art Of Dying’.