End of the Road
كأني بكَ تنحطّ الى اللحْدِ و تنْغطّ
قد أسلمَك الرّهطْ الى أضيَقَ منْ
سمّ هُناك الجسمُ
ممدودْ ليستأكِلَهُ الدّودْ
الى أن ينخَرَ العودْ ويُمسي العظمُ قد رمّ
“Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task go to sleep in peace……..GOD IS AWAKE” — Victor Hugo
From times immemorial, ancient scripts, rock paintings,
drawings etched on cave walls and so on, all depicted that
Men was worshiping some deity or another. The pharaohs
of Egypt had their Ra, the Hindus their Lord Krishna;
while the Greeks and Romans had their Zeus and Jupiter,
ruling supreme, supported by a host of lesser ranked gods.
A host of other pagan religions flourished; the fire and sun
worshipers, Idolaters, etc…
Somewhere in Men’s simple brain a genetic knowledge
probably informed him that there were powers or a power to
whose will he should bend and turn to in time of trouble.
Then came the religions of the “heavens” ; Judaism followed
by Christianity ending with Islam, all the three firmly believing
in the oneness of God.
Most people believe in life after death, some believing in the
reincarnation of the human soul but a very tiny few believe
in neither. Let me quote some lines from
“The Garden of Proserpine” by Swinburne.
“From too much love of living,
From hope and fear set free,
We thank with brief thanksgiving
Whatever gods maybe;
That no life lives for ever;
That dead men rise up never,
That even the weariest river
Winds somewhere safe to sea.”
But Men sooner or later realizes he has a bigger stake to lose.
While young and powerful he arrogantly mocks at what others
believe in. Too late, when sick and weak he recants his past
and then repents.
The early days of youthful years,
With their days of joy, smiles and tears.
As we courted damsels, young and fair;
And strutted around with a haughty air.
We dined on roasted lamb and swine.
Drank champagne sweet and vintage wine;
Bragging until our throats got sore.
Glittering clothes we daily wore.
Short sightedness has made us blind
Aimless we wander but fail to find,
The solemn path to righteousness
Confined to a fake life of ignorance.
Suddenly the inevitable call does come,
Without a trumpet, without a drum
Unprepared we depart one and all;
Each in response to his final call.
As the funeral moves to right and left,
With some lamenting; some bereft.
Others thinking of riches left by the dead.
While crocodile tears are being shed.
And as the mourners hug and part,
And when the kith and kin depart,
And when all is silent and lonely dark
The midnight dogs start to bark.
All the barking dogs will never wake
The dead; who their final slumber take
Dust to dust and unto dust
God’s ordinance is a simple must.
Full five feet deep under the soil,
End all our labours all our toil.
There, when the cold flesh rots;
A feast for the swarming maggots.
In the dark narrow confines of the grave,
A daunting residence even for the brave.
We await the day of Mercy or Torment.
A thin white shroud our only garment.
There’s no company to cheer and please.
No friends to laugh and joke or tease.
Pitch darkness and loneliness for a friend;
There all the worldly things come to end.
And woe betide the sinners there,
Though dead they lie but well aware.
The squeezing earth is pressing hard.
Their terrible screams remain unheard.
Then comes the day when all arise,
Doomsday; a day of reckoning and surprise
There we meet no parents, kith or kin.
All dumb-struck; atoning for each sin.
God! Forgive this sinner who now repents.
Poor, and weak, he kneels and bents
O God, Thou knew this sinner and his whim!
Show him Thy mercy, be kind to him.
Mustafa Mohd Said Ruwi, 20th May 2010.
“Belief in our mortality, the sense that we are eventually going
to crack up and be extinguished like the flame of a candle, I say,
is a gloriously fine thing. It makes us sober; it makes us a little
sad; and many of us it makes poetic. But above all, it makes it
possible for us to make up our mind and arrange to live sensibly,
truthfully, and always with a sense of our own limitations.”
– Lin Yutang
By Michael Masterson
I woke up this morning in pain again. I injured my shoulder
wrestling a few weeks ago, and it doesn’t seem to be healing.
Certainly not as fast as it would have healed when I was in my 30s.
This is one of the many execrable things that happen to you when
you reach 60. But it’s hardly the worst. The worst is that you can’t
avoid thinking about death. People you know — colleagues, friends,
and family members — are seriously sick or dying.
Right now, I see death as a hateful thief — ready to rob me of the
time I need to accomplish the goals I have yet to accomplish.
There is so much still to do: books to write, movies to make,
business to conduct, and places to see. But most of all there
are relationships I owe time to.
A reader recently wrote asking me why, when discussing how
I spend my day, I don’t talk about the time I spend with my family
and friends. The main reason is that I don’t feel I should be
dragging them into public view without their permission. But
another reason is that I write mostly about what I’ve learned… and
I haven’t learned how to do a very good job of that.
When I think about making good use of the time I have left, it’s
clear to me that working on my personal relationships should be
my top priority. So why don’t I do that now?
I once read a book called The Denial of Death. I don’t remember
much about it, but I do remember what I tookaway from it: It is
frightening to consciously recognize our mortality — to be fully
aware that one day we will cease to exist. The fear of death is so
great, in fact, that the reality of death must be suppressed from
our consciousness so we can go forward with our lives.
In other words, we deny death in order to live fully.
I think this is true. especially for the young. But as we age,
it becomes more difficult to keep death away from our thinking.
And eventually, we come to a crossroad where we must decide:
Should I continue to deny death, to “rage against the dying of
the light”? Or should I learn to accept the fact that we are all
dead men on leave and learn to live, as Thomas Ken said, “that
I may dread the grave as little as my bed”? I think we can do
both. We can continue to live our lives fully and purposefully –
even embracing long-term goals — while gradually allowing the
reality of death to sit comfortably in our psyches.
By Mustafa Mohamed Said