"All Bette's stories have happy endings. That's because she knows where to stop. She's realized the real problem with stories -- if you keep them going long enough, they always end in death."Neil Gaiman, Sandman #6: "24 Hours"
It's 4:37 am now. A character in a movie I once saw said that between 4 and 5 in the morning, the spirits of the dead would come out to roam.
I don't believe in ghosts - I stopped believing in them a long time ago when I stopped believing in gods, angels, fairies, demons and all the other the other things that live in between the cracks of our consciousness. Yet, when I go out in the darkest morning, between 4 and 5, I would still be wary. I would strain to see into shadows and chase the edges of my sight. I would turn around and look behind me, dreading to see something unnatural - and yet when I find nothing, I could allow myself no ease.
I know that for the rest of my life, no matter how many times I wander out of my home between 4 and 5 in the morning, I will never find ease in that hour.
In a few short hours, a bus bound for PJ would leave my campus with a large party of my colleagues. There is going to be a funeral, one which I will not be attending. I think I don't deserve to because I don't know the Deceased more than what one single episode of small talk would afford me. I am sitting this one out because I do not want to take up a space which someone who knew the Dearly Departed better deserves more. I heard he died a passenger on the North South Highway about this time yesterday. I heard that there's another passenger who was infinitely luckier than he. I heard the driver escaped largely unscathed in body, but much less so in mind. And I heard all of these as part of a second hand account, so they might not be at all be true.
Between the Deceased and I, we literally shared only one conversation, and we shared it in the first week we enrolled into med school in India. He told me he had a mild case of food poisoning, so I offered him a tablet of activated charcoal - which he took. I happened to have some on me because I was also suffering from the same. That was near 4 years ago, and we have not spoken a word to each other since. I cannot honestly say I am saddened by his passing, because he was almost a stranger to me. I also cannot honestly say I am shocked or surprised by it, because after an old friend of mine took his own life a year ago, I've started seeing Deadlines hovering over everyone's head. My great grandmother passed on last year too, and so did Phoebe's uncle. And three of Phoebe's colleagues were crushed in a small car pancaked between the inertia of one bus and the momentum of another. All of the deaths I've mentioned - save one - were before their time. I have somehow arrived at this point in my life when all the people I have ever known started dying one by one. I hear the hoof-beats of the Pale Horse constantly now. Sometimes it's far, sometimes it's far too close.
Lie quiet, mate. You died in the prime of your life, a student more than halfway through medical school and a pretty damn good football player, I heard people say. You died full of Promise and Potential. You could have been Anyone, attaining Anything. The rest of us would die a long time from now not quite the person we expect to be, and not quite achieving what we've always wanted in life. The rest of us would die Disappointed, and as Disappointments. With Regrets, and as Regrets.
The reason I'm awake right now is because I can't sleep, though it has nothing to do with my colleague's death. I simply do not sleep at night during the weekends. The reason I wrote this is not for my poor deceased colleague's sake, but for my own. Funerals and eulogies are for the living. The dead does not, cannot care.
I'm going out for a walk now.
k0k s3n w4i