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