"Death be not proud" wrote John Donne. Death pops up interesting surprises on us. This came as a true surprise, one that made me think enough to make me sit down at my laptop and write this blog.
But this death was expected. They, husband and wife, lived to a fruitful age of 95, were married at 25, created five children, never travelled outside the precincts of their village in Kerala, never saw an aircraft from close (or even sat in one), saw their great grand children, never touched a computer keyboard, and didn’t fall seriously ill until four months ago.
And they died peacefully at home with some of their children around them. Mercy’s sister’s father-in-law died day before yesterday, and his wife died a day later, after having lived together for seventy years. For a moment I want to stop and imagine this! Simple folks, a simple life of wearing dhotis and chatta-mundu, and eating unpolished rice for all their lives, and leading a Christian life of strong faith in their God and their fellow beings.
My parents also lived a similar life. Theirs was a life of sacrifices for their children, who looked after them in their old age. Both my parents (bless them!) never had stepped into an aircraft, never been to a holiday, never knew what a computer is, didn’t know about the Internet, and saved all they could so that they could leave it to their children, whom they considered profligate. When I suggested once that they should travel by aeroplane, my dad asked, “What for?” That was their culture, their own value system deeply ingrained in their psyche.
If there was a contest for the biggest miser of all time, my dad would win, without a doubt. After retirement when he settled in Kerala, he would control the use of water so that he wouldn’t have to use electricity to pump water to the overhead tank. So no flushing! When I came on holiday I would have to pay him to stay for a few weeks, or he would feel offended. I won’t be allowed to sit late reading a book as electric bills would go beyond his calculations. Result: he left me enough inheritances that I can educate my son without worrying. He died at the age of eighty-four and mother followed him three years later at the age of eighty-seven. They were of the same age.
The lives of these two couples – my sister-in-law’s in laws’, and my parents’ – are so similar that I couldn’t but compare them, and then, with that of mine.