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Life, Death And All That!

It is my dream to make a living out of writing and I had intended to do so till I pack my bags to hell. But, there are moments when it is hard for one to read or write. One such moment is when one knows he is supposed to be packing his bags to hell. It couldn’t get any tougher than this!

Two months back, I was having some pain in my tongue as of a lesion, and doctors said that it is highly probable that it is oral cancer. When I searched on the internet, I had all the symptoms, except that I had pain. I did not know why I was being singled out for this. I never smoked, used any tobacco product, tasted alcohol, had sex or even exposed myself to sun excessively. Even my young age made it highly unlikely. I do not deserve this, my mind said.

I went to two doctors. One doctor was hesitant to say anything and when I asked, he said “It is serious unless proven otherwise.” I asked more, but he wouldn’t elucidate. He did a biopsy done soon and the report wouldn’t be out in seven days.

When I was with the second doctor, I didn’t want to hear the truth. So, I was silent and he did not say anything at all. When I was about to leave, I asked out of curiosity: “Does it look like a Cancer?” and he just said: ‘If that’s it, we will take it out!”, and asked me to leave.

When I said with characteristic innocence that “The doctor said he will take it out”, as if I couldn’t fully realize the gravity of the problem, the sad smile on the face of a girl who helped me speed up the formalities in the hospital was the most painful thing I had ever seen.

Some were silent. Some were more honest and asked me to be brave and get prepared to die, though they didn’t quite put it that way.  I often joke that I despise humanity. I didn’t believe it myself. It was no longer necessary to joke. It was not a burning, passionate hatred. It was not even a hatred directed at a meaningless abstraction called humanity. It was draining cold contempt, and nothing more! I didn’t need anyone anymore-not in the way I needed them before.

I had lost interest in everything including food for over a month before the disease was suspected. I found no explanation for this. I rarely forget a word I read, but while coming back from the Hospital, I couldn’t recall the name of my apartment in which I lived for months.

I couldn’t even imagine something worse happening to anyone. I had just begun my life thinking great things are possible in life and that I have whatever it takes to do certain things than anyone I have ever known in person or print.“It is all lost and now I am going to die, and it is going to be the most painful death.” I told myself. Nothing mattered before such pain-not even my dreams. I have heard people say that they wouldn’t wish some things upon even their worst enemies. Being a vengeful person who would never forgive or forget, I never really believed it. I was able to see, feel and understand what it means for the first time in my life.

I wondered why I did not feel anything I was supposed to feel-Not even fear.  I just felt cold apathy, though sometimes I stopped to think that this should be scary. I had always thought of myself as a coward. I never imagined that I could take it like this. I was an atheist in a foxhole who didn’t cry or pray. I feared an explosion from my side. It never happened. I just felt tired.

I felt disturbed a few hours before getting the biopsy report, but I was surprised that till then I was able to function normally. I didn’t even look into the biopsy report for half an hour, and then the doctor looked into it and said “No problem”. The doctor said I won’t die of Cancer, as there is no evidence of malignancy. It seems it was just an inflammation. What a great loss for humanity it would have been!

Luckily, it looks like my life is overextended for many decades. Strangely I didn’t feel too much happiness either, which is very unusual. Sounds like a funny dream now! I am very much against oral cancer now. I want it to be legislated out of existence.

Steve Job’s words on his cancer threat phase comes back to me: “No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away.  This was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope it’s the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept: Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.”

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