by Asma.


The thing about death is, its unexpected- nearly always. Lingering over us all the time but it lashes without a forewarning. Like the change of weather, you never know when the first amber leaf falls before the glory of winter or when the bloom of spring surrenders to the rage of summer. But, that exact moment is there – Undiscovered but not unknown.

I had come to pay him a visit. I was done with third grade and the summer break had just started. I had a lot of plans for us. Little did I know that our trio would cease to exist. “Just one. It’s been three days!”, Through parched lips Omar asked for a sip of water, begged infact. “I won’t ask for more. I promise to be a good boy. I will write all the ABC  and I will color the shapes properly”. He kept on going while his mother looked helplessly at the doctor. He was busy reading Omar’s charts. To me, he was just ill. That’s all everybody ever told me. Needless to say, I thought he’d be fine once I prayed for him. But for now, I was there to meet him. I could pray later. The nurse had adjusted the flow of his IV and was waiting for the doctor’s next command. He looked up some minutes later, glanced at his patient and nodded to the nurse. Mother uttered a sigh of relief. A minute later, Omar was sipping from the spoon in nurse’s hand quickly and without stopping. He looked up and weakly smiled at me. He’s perfectly alright, I thought. A staggering moment of joy. The world stopped then or maybe it just started spinning faster. Dense white foam was rushing out of Omar’s mouth. It couldn’t be, afterall it was just a few sips – of water! There was a high-pitched shriek somewhere, a loud bell, strong hands pushing me outside, a horde of people in white coats, machines and wires everywhere. Everything was a blurr. He died an hour later. I hadn’t prayed for him. It had just escaped my mind. But one thing was for sure, my brother had been ill, very very ill.

I was almost done with my chemistry test preparation when I heard them. Mixed voices. It was our neighbours at front. Must’ve been another fight between Adil and his mother over some chick he wanted to marry. A fortnightly routine, I thought. Tuning them out, I returned to memorizing atomic structure. Ninth Grade summer camp, Pure torture. The voices started getting louder and there was something unusual about them. I leaned in.. a woman crying for help, a guy in excruciating pain. And then, I saw him – covered in flames, making an effort to come out  into the open balcony.  His mother from behind started throwing blankets over him. The fire died but Adil kept wailing in agony. Half an hour later, I saw him draped in a white sheet, walking towards the ambulance. He was burnt, dejected but he didn’t want to die. I could see it. I knew it. Nobody wants to die, no matter how much they ‘seem’ to yearn for death. Ironic. At night, we were told that he was called in critical. ’What a miserable man’, I thought. He, who had deliberately set himself on fire to die, yet he was still there, fighting for a medical miracle. In my little understanding of the big world, he didn’t deserve to live. Maybe the Divine thought the same for he died before the next sunrise. And I still couldn’t bring myself to pray for him. Inhumane me, Insane him.

We had survived it. The drama, the psychological trauma of our first year in medicine. This called for a little celebration, a trip maybe. After spending almost a whole day on road, we reached the destined spot – A breathtaking gorge, surrounded from all sides by hills no less in beauty. He stood there – at the top of the cliff, mustering up courage to dive. A mere teen in twenties. He wouldn’t jump, I thought. The water was too shallow for that plus the rock he was standing on was 40 ft above. Zero survival chance. But he had our attention. I knew it and so did he. He attempted a run towards the edge – Fear reigned, he reversed. ‘Chicken’, I mocked and distracted myself. From the corner of my eye, I saw him come again. A somersault above in the air, a splash in the water below. He didn’t resurface after that. Panic. People jumped in after him while we prayed. I prayed for him. Almost an hour had elapsed when he was brought to the surface, resuscitation was futile. Under the shadow of the very cliff our professor called his time of death.

Its funny how people attribute sudden sad demises to hospitals. What I’ve learnt is that comfort of your room and bewitching beauty of nature can be deadlier than those white walls. It’s not the place but the moment one should fear.  Lingering over us all the time but lashing without a forewarning. Unexpected- Nearly always. It’s a thing about Death.