The man who knew death
- An old man answers questions about life and death before he leaves
Jan 31, 2016-There once was an old man who lived alone in a little cottage—a humble abode, roofed with layers of straw, and its walls plastered with mud. During the summer, the sea breeze would caress its cells, cooling all of it with the moisture that the drifting air would bring with it. And during winter, it kept itself warm, its muddy walls would work as interior insulation. It was, by all means, a comfortable place to live in. The old man loved it.
The old man, Abraham by name, was thin and gaunt—his face abound with deep wrinkles, as if they were waves in a rough sea. His hands were pale and calloused, his frame fragile, and his scant hair white as snow. Everything about him seemed ancient and worn, except for that glow his green eyes—the same colour as the bottom of an ocean—radiated. They were cheerful and vibrant. But it always seemed that dark shadows of death lurked underneath them.At dusk every Friday, a boy from a nearby village would come to visit him, to inherit the philosophies the old man lived by. Abraham, however, was no great philosopher, but this boy, Edward, loved to argue about deep, intricate notions about the world with him. In fact, he had intended to live with the old man in his cottage but his parents would not let him, because they thought the old man was mad. Therefore, the boy had to escape the eyes of his parents to visit the old man.
The boy admired the old man and he shunned everyone who would talk bad about him. There is something unique about this old man, the boy thought, as he took the shortcut through the woods towards the old man’s cottage. He knows everything, yes, everything. That is it. How clearly he expressed his knowledge and how easily he convinced me the last time I asked him about reality and the world’s ways. There shall be someone to absorb the vast treasure of knowledge he possesses. And that’s me, yes me, he whispered to himself as he reached his destination.
It was already dusk. The faint red of the late autumn sunset covered the grass. The falling sun cast a soft shower of golden dust over the bushes and to the twigs that had fallen in the wake of a soft breeze. And the light flickered on the circular frame of dragonflies that darted from the shade to the glow and from the glow to the shade, intermittently, as though they were angels from heaven playing hide and seek on earth. This is heaven, the boy said to himself, astounded by the splendour spreading before him. Inside, the old man lay asleep on the rectangular bed, snoring. He was dreaming about lions and their cute cubs. His lips were smiling.
“Should I wake him?” the boy thought. Then he decided not to disturb him and sat by him, silent. An hour and a half later, the old man’s eyelids parted, revealing the silver of his eyes. It was his way of expressing pleasure. “Ah, my friend,” he said. “It is always such a pleasure to have you by my side. This loneliness, which I once so adored, is mocking me now. Time, dear, renders great sorrows in our heart. Yes, time…” Suddenly, the old man paused, and then closed his eyes softly emanating a hideous groan of pain.
“What is it?”
“Death, child, it is death,” answered the old man. “I can see her now. She comes to me every night and whispers into my ears. She is sitting in this room, even now.”
He is losing his sense of reality, the boy thought. The fear of death has turned his mind blunt. He is talking nonsense today. Or is he talking about something beyond the horizon of human reasoning? Oh, how can I forget that he is one wise man? I should listen to him intently.
“What does death whisper into your ears?” the boy inquired.
“That she is coming for me very soon. That she wants to take me to another world,” replied the old man.
“Do you believe her?”
“Yes, I do. In the last few days I have started to believe in many things, things that I previously considered as only creations of the human imagination.”
The old man, all of a sudden, started a rough cough; the boy rushed to fetch water. As the old man drank, the boy looked at his throat and saw water running through its veins. He must live for at least a decade more, the boy thought. There is so much that I have to learn from him. But will he even last tonight? He should. No, he must. I don’t give a damn about what my parents say. I will live with him in his cottage from today.
“One of the most important of them all is the notion that death is the beginning of another life,” the old man continued. “Yes child, when we die our soul escapes into another world and there it acquires immortality.”
“I don’t think so,” the boy countered.
“Then child, you should start thinking so. Because, you know, energy can’t be destroyed. And our soul is an energy.”
The boy was taken aback by the old man’s wonderful reasoning. He is right, his thoughts concluded. Yes, when we die we leave this world to live in another world. Then why do people fear death so much, even he does. He looked at the old man and said: “Still you say you fear death?”
“Yes, I fear death like everybody else.”
“I don’t care about others,” said the boy. “You know that death is not the end of everything and still you say you are afraid of it. Why?”
“Because death is ugly, and life is beautiful. The world we enter after leaving our body is an eternal world. Something that never ends is never beautiful. Yes, Edward, the world we enter after death is a world where there is no motion, no time.”
“You are confused, I know. Soon the dust of confusion veiling the truth will fade because whatever I have told is based upon the fundamental laws of science. You are unclear for I have not concluded yet. Even I have got mathematics to prove it but when I will reveal the conclusion you will no longer doubt me. You will not even demand mathematical proofs. It is based upon the fusion of quantum mechanics and relativity.” The old man was breathing loud and rough. Then he coughed, and blood leaked from his mouth. His eyes were watery. Suddenly Edward felt a deep pang in his heart. He could hear the wild animals outside howling loud.
“No friend, no, no, no,” the boy shouted, “you can’t leave me. I have a lot to learn from you.”
The old man’s eyes were already shut. His breathing was fading. Soon he fell asleep. At about midnight when he woke, Edward was drowsing on a chair by his bed. The old man shook him up. And said: “Child, I think I have reached the point from where my soul will enter that timeless world. When we die, our soul travels into the world where time is just another physical dimension like length or breadth or height. And there our soul is just a form of energy like heat or any other forms of energy. With death Edward, remember, everything doesn’t end. It’s just the beginning of our immortality. And we humans, by our nature, fear immortality.”
Edward, who knew something about relativity and quantum theory, understood the depth of his idea though he could not fully grasp it. Our soul travels faster than light and goes into a world very far, he thought, through spooky action at a distance. Time can be physical dimension according to Einstein’s relativity. Aah, he is a genius.
The next morning at about 5 o’clock, the old man passed away. On his grave, Edward wrote: THE MAN WHO KNEW DEATH!
Published: 31-01-2016 10:06