Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 03 July 2016





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

Is long life always a blessing?

To be frank, I had worded the title, "Long life not always a blessing" but opted for this. Reason is that, readers have got used to reject unpalatable titles. To explain, the merits of long life have earned so much acceptance in our or any society that any contrary idea is rejected. Not only that, a medley of factors, social, religious, economic etc. is conducive to the above theory that very few have the gumption to voice a contrary view.

It is best to enjoy the full quota of life

From the practical aspect too, long life is more contributory to a fulfilled life. Any age less than 60 or 70 cannot accommodate the 101 tasks a human, male or female is expected to accomplish in his or her life time.

So, always Amen to Long Life. In our own blessed island the votes for long life are more due to many an extraneous factor that deserves elaboration due to their interesting aspect.

For example, there is the Sinhala new year festivities that the major community always follows except for the very sophisticated. An Asheervada is the main item where in a communal spirit typical of the villages, the denizens gather to be blessed by the village Elder, "Kalu kaputa sudu vena thuru, moal gahe dalu ena thuru, may you live long".

Translated the blessing runs as follows:

"Till the black crow turns white, till tender bud leaves sprout in the pestle may you live long."

An impossible blessing to achieve but for eons of time, ever since settled communal life nurtured by more advanced modes of civilization began, the Aseervada has gone on, very few questioning its logic.

There is also the fillip given to long life by very public figures cum die hard nationalists. Minister WJM Lokubandara who went on to become governor, aided and abetted long life in his professional capacity.

He adulated the term, Ayubowan, that means "May you have long life" as unique, never articulated in any other country, and even insisted that it replaces the mischievous HELLO used in telephone conversations. Of course after his receding from bureaucracy, the Hello has come back.

Perhaps due to such patronage, long life, especially very long life in the island has not bidden its adieu. A good number of Sri Lankan citizens, whether they like it or not live up to 90 or even more filling the last column in population statistic graphs. It is only a sample of these who get photographed for ill treatment by families, even confinement to kennels or left alone in bus stands and railway stations. Most die off unsung even by the newspapers and TV. Their last words, if recorded will be tantamount to sentiments as this,

"Away, away, hypocritical human race which condones only the healthy and go ahead".

What should be done to poor helpless humans, especially if they get severely diseased and there is nobody to look after them? A foul question, no doubt. The writer once read a book about some islanders who throw their "OLD AND USELESS" family members to the ocean, a practice no country today with a legal system and a religious basis will dream of following. Across the TV the other day, I learnt that Canada has passed a law that allows the freedom for the severely ill to commit suicide as a better alternative to endless suffering. Hinging on euthanasia, maybe.

Some bizarre situations too arise as life elongates, whether one wishes it or not.

To illustrate that point I quote some extracts from an article by Ajahn Brahmavanso Maha Thera, published in the much renowned Buddhist Times, Sept/October issue 2015, received in 2016 due to some mishap that envelopes corresponding humans.

(Forgive them, father, for they do not know what they are doing.) Anyway here is quoting the relevant portions verbatim.

"Seven years ago research showed a clear co-relation between cigarette smoking and the non-occurence of Alzheimer's disease". The famous prelate goes on,

"It was not that smoking cigarettes somehow caused immunity from Alzheimer's, as much as the tobacco companies might have wished, it was only that many smokers did not live long enough to get Alzheimer's disease"!

Find the humour in the situation. Or is it almost ghoulish to find humour in funeralistic situations?

Anyway it is best to enjoy the full "God or gods" given quota of life, unless of course some weird circumstances make you long to relinquish it for you never know what is in store in the future, physically. Then Canada can be followed.

By the way, I end this by explaining the apostrophized term God or gods. God refers to one almighty God and gods, we frequently meet in Oriental literature count up to 33,000. (Thisthun daahak).

The intermediate number, some 32,999! Queer world, isn't it? Who wants to leave it early despite all setbacks, physical and mental?


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