There between planets cobwebs thicken.
Depart now. Spiders look for my heart
lest I forget the final wreck of all that’s human
Agha Shahid Ali
Death's Authority – Non-negotiable, inexcusable. Two deaths. One Normal. One Abnormal. Normal via ageing – that slow imperceptible beat of Death, the beater at heart, silencing it to beat no more. This is normal death. Slow degeneration of elements within and without, not felt at all till the end. Painless or painful throughout till the destined last dose of pain descends on life to proclaim death. This final moment is well nigh despite the longevity a person is destined to celebrate. It is there in the hourglass. Abnormal Death is unnatural. But it has been imposing himself upon mankind from the very beginning. Cain killing Abel because God rejected malicious Cain’s offering, accepting Abel’s. Since then mankind has been witnessing Abnormal Death’s naked dance killing humans in enormous multitude. His operative mechanism is through accidents, natural calamities, epidemic, pandemic, ethnic cleansing, racial prejudice, conflict, war. Imagine Suffain – Ten thousand Muslims killed, some of them companions of the Prophet (Peace be upon him). 1258 sack of Baghdad, hundred year war between England and France, Spanish Armada, two World Wars, Sabra Shatila massacre, people killed in the conflict zones. All this is to the credit of Abnormal Death. God having nothing to do with it. Man gone astray, led astray from the straight path by the evil imperialism, nationalism, now ultra nationalism, greed and the desire to dominate. History is a house of sorrow. Whose flames to burn and kill are stoked by the so called developed countries in the name of peace. ‘They make a desolation and call it peace. Now this pandemic horror of Abnormal Death. Nobody knows where he alighted from. Bats, minks or Wuhan Lab. As if Corona Virus was doing lesser harm, Abnormal Death sent reinforcements to it in the form of British, South African, Brazilian mutants and to cause greater havoc black, white and yellow fungus. Poor Man! Multicolour Abnormal Death. Who knows we may have one poetically called Rainbow Virus- a fatal display of seven colours in unison. God save us! This Abnormal Death’s horrible sights of mass burials or cremations on TV Screens is causing pain deep down human psyche – dead bodies disposed off inhumanely. TV tamasha.
There is a Persian saying, ‘when people die in multitude it is a celebration.’ People now cope up with pandemic as a routine. As if insensitive to number of humans dying every day as to a routine. But when a family is hit, losing a dear one to covid as if to a lightning from a turbulent sky, it is a different story. It is GRIEF’S carnival. It is shooting poisonous arrows by Abnormal Death- merciless Authoritarian, shot at an unlucky family which might have lost a member- father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister. Or it could be all of them reducing pain to ground zero. Loss has no language else than cries, tears, lamentations. Our useless futile ways to recall the dead. Dead they are – ash, dust. They don’t speak. They are non-communicable.
Pandemic is universal coming home to become particular. It is like the Biblical flood to punish the erring. God perpetuating His creation in the Noah’s Ark. Yes, God is angry. Injustice, tyranny suppression of the powerless by the powerful, terrible exploitation becoming intolerable for Him. Raining down fatal viruses on the planet earth to cleanse it of mischief of heartless men, so that justice, to lead to peace, is made to prevail. Rumi the great’s description on civilizational inequities and brutalities befits so well on our soulless and unethical civilization. He says :
My soul has grown weary of Pharaoh and his tyranny;
That light in the breast of Moses, Imran’s son, is my desire.
Last night the elder wandered about the city with a lantern
Saying ‘I am weary of demon and monster: Man is my desire.’ ( Trans. Arberry)
Imagine the super power America powerless before the covid-19. We know that America’s misdeeds have been greater than any other country in the world. Then soulless and immoral cultural affinities of the whole world. As a result it seems God’s wrath has been invoked by our sins. He is the Master of Disease.
We the Khans of Pinjoora were also hit by corona virus. We lost one of our beloved members to covid. This family lost Abdul Majeed Khan to the worldwide pandemic. To us it seems unbelievable, but it is a reality. He is dead. When I informed senior journalist Mohammad Syed Malik he said ‘A good man gone’. Professor Ghulam Rasool Malik, our common friend and well-wisher said that he died a martyr. Every covid death is a martyr. because it is Abnormal. It will be fair and just on part of God to award paradise directly to Abnormal death victims. For their future possibility of doing deeds righteous is cutoff. They must be given benefit of doubt, even to a history-sheeter, My Lord. Every saint has a past every sinner has a future. He was healthful, contracted infection somewhere out in the life’s workplace where people crowd without regarding covid-19 protection SOPs. This is how it happened from Wuhan to Kashmir to desert to mountains to every nook and corner in the world. This is how it has been happening for a pretty long time now with no end in sight. Moved from hospital to hospital, he breathed his last in GMC Hospital Srinagar. He had even revived but only to worsen to bid us adieu.
Abdul Majeed Khan, my brother, and more than that a friend was a well off man, a man of resource. But he was so humble and soft spoken that it appeared he did not know what he was. He was a good friend, a noble human being. A philanthropist. A loveable person for his good habits of mind and heart. What was remarkable in him was that he was a lover. He was a man of cultivated culture. He loved poetry, music, nature, and above all friendship. A practising Muslim, he had performed Hajj twice in his life. In summer he would visit Kashmir’s meadows and gardens. He was in love with nature which he rather absorbed in his self. He was a traveller also. He once called this writer from Istanbul asking him to tell him what was worth seeing in that city. He had visited Iran also, visiting tombs of Shaikh Sadi and Hafiz Shirazi. Whereas people of his native village Pinjoora Shopian, Srinagar mourned his death, we the Khans of Pinjoora will grieve for him longer and longer. Life is a stage with well-marked signs of ENTERENCE and EXIT. Between these doorways the drama of life is enacted. In this range of action Normal is expected at an advanced old age. It can visit earlier, much earlier. No one knows from where fate’s scheming. People even if decrepit, vent double by age, useless like an old, deteriorated piece of furniture, want to drag on their existence. Life is intoxicating and the world is beautiful. Ghalib says it beautifully, “My hands are lifeless, but my eyes can see. Keep the cup and Winejar still before me.” A philosopher has said that the most surprising thing in the world is that people see people dying, yet they think they are not going to die – their death far, far away whereas the normal Death is acceptable. It being the divine Ordinance to manage and discipline life itself. It is rather death that makes life beautiful. Even so the abnormal death is unacceptable.
Dear Khan Sahib, we miss you! I have your phone number still in my mobile. I look at it often to console myself. This little thing can reach everywhere in the world but not to those who lie horizontal under the earth. May you be in Heaven with all the beautiful things you loved.
But verily the reward of the hereafter is the best, For those who believe,
and are constant in righteousness. (12:57)
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.