This is the corollary to loving one’s body. Absolutely and unreservedly, love it. It is our lovely animal, so mysterious that not another like it exists in all the trillion universes. Nourish, nurture, adore it. But know it is temporary. Again and again I come up against the immutable, ineluctable fact of death, staring at us all the time, and which we so blindly (isn’t this the greatest of our blindnesses?) forget.

The only reason I remember and write about it so often is that before Donald’s death I had had, except for the death of pets –no less traumatic — no experience of human death, though a consciousness of  it existed from the second I was born. My grand niece, Ajuni, 6 now, had said to me at 2: I don’t want to die. I don’t want mama to die. When I was about three I saw a child’s coffin in the bazaars of Secunderabad, and I am told I threw a fit, rolled on the street and screamed because my parents wouldn’t buy one for me. I wanted it to sleep in, which reminds me that Edith Piaff used to sleep in one. What a wonderful thing before one went to sleep, that other state of unconsciousness, to remember the Great Sleep, and welcome it! That is how I want to die: not raging, raging “against the dying of the light,” as Dylan Thomas did, or shaking my fist at God as thunder and lightening tore the sky, as Beethoven did, but opening my arms wide to it, and embracing it in an embrace that can only happen when Body is absent.

Bah, Humbug! I say this now, but who knows what I will feel when it is upon me? I will be too much in the clutches of suffering to turn to it as to a lover, passionately; or I will decide at the last minute to rage against it. It is a testimonial to the value of life that we are always reluctant to leave it. This, too, is an ineluctable fact.


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