Death and The Atheist Kid


There is an old saying in Bengali, which, when translated in English stands something like, “Everyone shall die, who is immortal anyway”. And that’s one hell of a truth, cause even Superman and Wolverine died, well quiet a few times. But many of us have been fascinated with death. Because, you don’t clearly know what’s on the other side, so this is invariably a child like curiosity that we have, when it comes to the topic of death. Through out different religions and cultures, death is the one thing that have been repeated numerous times and with different interpretation; while some argued that this is the end of the journey, some said there is afterlife and built huge structures to preserve the deads and provide them similar luxury as they used to have in their time of living. Some said, it’s just a phase where the soul drops the body it was inhabiting and takes up a new form. But whatever may the interpretation be, many are afraid of death.

And that’s where the story starts. Few days back, I was asked by my boss, whether I’m afraid of death or not; since he read it somewhere that only the atheists and hardcore theist are not afraid to die, and he is pretty much aware of my absolute disregard for any religion or God for that matter. But it took me a while to answer the question.

I have seen fair amount of death around me, the latest one being the sudden death of a very good friend of mine. And it’s like talking about an old acquaintance. I have been a sniffer dog around the bed ridden fellows in my family, because of the freaky ability to sniff death when it’s imminent. But before all that started, there was another thing.

I still remember, as a kid I always had a strange feeling. You know how you see your surroundings when you are in the drivers seat of a single seat car? You know that the car and you are two different entities, driving towards the same point, while one is seating inside the other. Now think of it in your daily life, where you think that your body is car, and you are just someone sitting inside it, making it move. Is that scary? Welcome to my world.

I can recall this one incident, I was 7 years old and one fine night I was having trouble falling asleep. So I started thinking about death, and it soon perplexed me. It was hard to understand “why” back then, but now when I think of the time, it makes sense. I was not afraid of dying, but it was too many “why” and “what” that freaked the hell out of me. Now again going back to the same example I have used previously, think again. You are in that same car, but you haven’t seen your hands or legs or face yet. But you have seen the reflection of the car, and you think that’s the only way how all the cars look, because you haven’t seen the drivers yet. And you definitely have seen cars crashing. So you start to wonder what will happen when your car crashes? will you die with it, or will you be present outside it? what will happen if the car crashes? And these are the similar kind of questions I was having, but with no answer.

But coming back again to the question, to fear or not to fear? It’s easy for atheists or theists to give up on fear. Because for atheists, there is no god or no afterlife, and for theists, almighty god is there to take care of everything. But it’s the people in between who are neither this nor that, they fear death, not because it’s the end, but because how little we know about it and the life after it, if anything is at all there.

But if we learn to love life as it is, thinking less about death, and concentrating least on death, may be we can do wonder. If we know all the things we want to do in our life and we know that this life isn’t infinite, and since we know nothing about any life beyond death, it it always wise to finish up our work in this lifetime. Do what you wanted to do for a long time, call up that one friend you haven’t called up in a while, take a break from your work, hit the road, visit a new place, pick up a new book, spend time on what is more important. Cause unless its proven, death is the end of line, and before it sneaks up on your back and say “Surprise Motherlover” this is your time to be awesome.

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