Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 9 February 2014





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

The 'Splendour' of death

Like love, death is a many splendoured thing. Writers over the years have romanticised and sensationalised death by giving it various dimensions. It has also been the same with regard to writing of appreciations after a person's death and in the inscriptions on epitaphs. The writers have proved their prowess in writing in their appreciations and epitaphs.

Importantly the Buddha has exhorted that all living beings will someday come to an end. In this light many writers of the day and yesteryear have put their pen to paper in the following manner to express the demise of a person.

Tissa Devendra has described the death of his colleagues in kachcheri language, "Alas they have now departed on their last circuit from which there in no return".

The death of a person is also referred to as "He kicked the bucket". It has a dubious origin. But some not so learned people refer to the scraping tin sound when a bucket topples on concrete is similar to the wailings at a funeral house. Hence it is refered to as kicking the bucket.

Stygian shores

Some of the other references to death are as follows: reached the stygian shores; He had the tryst with the maker; He overtook us in the race for eternity, He joined the valhallah (The place of bliss for souls of slain heroes a general burial place or monument for the nations great people); Graduated to the great beyond; Mortal remains were mingled with the earth; Crossed the great divide and went to that great land beyond; Crossed the rubicon; Went to the land of no return and the South African leader who went the way of all flesh.

Writings about death have also intriguing. Naomi Ratnayaka about her late father Premil said "He marched to a different drum beat one no longer heard."

My police batchmate Lawny Silva has this to say about death that will come sooner or later. He says with a guffaw. "I have got the visa. I am waiting for the boarding pass".

Retired DIG Jurangpathy who extols the Muslim faith met me one day at the police hospital and told me, "Sene you will go to Kanatta and I will go to Jawatta; for which I said.

"You will be buried and I will be cremated"

Condolence book

Somethings written on a condolence book drew my attention. It read: "you are the best pal I ever had.

Go ahead chum and rest but wait for me at the pearly gates for I will meet you there for sure. Hail and fairwell".

Another read, "You are not dead, you have only crossed over to the next room.

This journey all must go and each one of us go alone. May you attain Nibbana."

May the turf lie lightly on him till I meet him in glory from where we will part no more.

"Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies in us when we are alive." "Life is a borrowing from God. It must be returned to him when he wants it back."

"Life are born. We live and we fade away". Earnest Hemingway said, "Every one's life ends in death.

It is only the details of how he lived and died that distinguish one man from another.


Some of the epitaphs always take a religious flavour.

May he attain Nibbana; May his sojourn in sansara be short; Safe in the arms of Jesus; Rest in peace and

Shakespere refers to death in a controversial manner:

"The evil that men do lives after them

The good is often interred with their bones."

I found this plaque near a dog's tomb. Near this spot are deposited the remains of one who possessed clarity without unity, strength without insolence, courage without ferocity and all virtues of man without bias.

This praise would be unmeaning flattery if inscribed over human ashes". Sharuk Khan the actor says, "Sense of fulfilment and the knowledge of having led a good life when the end comes is a bonus point".

He says a loser is a man who dies and comes back to earth as a dog and his wife comes back as a flea.

The Japanese always say, "May you live in intertesting times, even at death and further" You are an epitome of whole some goodness."


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