Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Death - Imepermanable

Yo Mo, used to be the common way Mo was reffered to at work. One would always here these two words shouted out loud when there was an unsurmountable problem with the server, something complicated with a new piece of software or an old bug driving a new alergy. Mo would scurry down to the cubicle and would scurry out within a few minutes with the flag of victory waving high and nice.

Mo was the saviour for many of us green horns and yet there was no one to save him when a ton of bricks fell on his head.

Often Mo would be staring down Dundas square sipping a cup of coffee. One day I joined him and mouthed 'Whats happening Mo ?". There was a israeli protest march winding its way down younge. "Damm these israelis want everything taken from us. They are seeking revenge for the holocust, because there was no hitler around they are bossing around arabs. Not to say many of our leaders are stupid nitwits picked and chosen by british and americans to be divided so that the israelis can have their land and the America their oil". That was mo, a complete straight shooter when it comes to politics. he never believed in diplomatic comments even when david (jew) was around. With Mo and David in the team playing cold war games across their Line of control (now thats completely indian LOC), I ended up playing the mediator.

It was pretty frustrating especially when there was a software release down the corner. mo would go, "Can you tell David to lock the server up ? I need to get some testing done". or david would say "can you get the search code from mo ? I need to make the changes". Things came to such a point that one day, I setup a usual looking meeting between mo, david, and rest of the client team. I called in sick that day and let them handle the meeting themselves. There was no way they are going to avoid each other.

That was the last time, I mediated. From then on, David and Mo got along for work reasons but anyway thats all there was. No socialising atall. One september weekend when I had nothing else to do, mo invited me home for some soccer and dinner. I reached his home in missisaga at 3 p.m. We all know Mo was a muslim. I found out more that day. he was a very very conservative 2nd generation arab palestenian in canada. his father migrated from gaza to egypt and he brought them to canada. Migration is all he knows. he loves football (soccer) and plays for his club in toronto without fail, a leading striker and an very good player for his team he belies his small frame as he rushes back and forth the ground with ease and stealth(that explains the scurrying).

I met his wife, hijab and all. I even saw her face. With two beautiful kids he was well settled and looking to conquer the world. the sky was the limit for a talented guy like mo, if only he shed his conservative outlook to other cultures. The evening went perfectly, a piece of succulant mutton and lots of sherbet. We discussed among other things, Islam and the west. He was labouring to explain how islam is not all evil as it made out to be. But his general negativity about the west and concern and longing for palestine is almost complete. His house is more like a tent with everything arab in it. He literally dislikes (note, dislike need not be hate: this is especially for many americans) the western outlook to life, the general sense of moral degredation (instinctively I flinch, I felt he was talking about me almost chiding to quit drinking). Often when such a thing happens many an uncharitable white supremist would come and say, "if you so hate the west what are you doing here ?" David asked me that once. Most of the times, people are just trying to live by. "Does that mean that one should suppress oneself ? I found that really ridiculous", I replied.

mo pissed me off once, when he cut across borders and bonded with a pakistani colleage in saying that muslims were persecuted in Kashmir. David was smiling and smirking, "I told you so". I did become a little more suspicious about mo. but thats just my indian/non-muslim speaking. Mo as a human was no different as David or me. I felt bad when he said, "Canada is much different from america". America is too racist for a muslim. I could understand that because after america went crazy post 911, I was called a paki "n" number of times by strangers as old as the 60 year old woman in k-mart.

Anyway all these are pointless. Mo died six months back when he visited gaza and was caught in civil strife. His wife doesent know how it happend and its either crossfire or an israeli targeted building which fell on his head. No one really knows and hey when hundreds are murdered you cant always do post mortem. So he lays burried in gaza and she has to rise her 2 kids a 3 yearold son and a 6 month old daughter on her own. I spoke to her after this shocker came to me. She is an educated intelligent lady and she says she can get by.

I did call a couple of other friends in a nostalgic whim and tried to catch up after years. Interestingly david it seems broke down when he heard the news. So much for israel and arab. But you know the value of life is damm low in our parts of the world. A couple of asians/arab/muslims die. "ha its just another disaster that hit the third world or oh these awful terrorists, they are spreading tyranny". Well such is life and i felt sad for mo's family.

That led me on to ponder the whole aspect of death and grief. I was flipping through the pages of one of my favourite books "Jathaka tales" - by fancis thomas
and I found these lines which just felt apt.

Say by what power thou grievest not, Rama when grief should be ?
Though it is said thy sire is dead grief overwhelms not thee ?

Then Rama-Pandita explained the reason of his not grieving saying,

When man can never keep a thing, though loudly he can cry,
why should a wise intelligent torment thereby ?
The young in years, the older grown, the fool, and eke the wise,
For rich, for poor one end is sure: each man among them dies.

As sure as for the ripend fruit there comes the fear of fall,
So surely comes the fear of death to mortals one and all.
Who in the morning light are seen by evening oft are gone,
And seen at evewning time, is gone by morning many a one.
If a fool infatuate a blessing could accrue
When he torments himself with tears, the wise this same would do.

By this tormenting of himself he waxes thing and pale;
Thsi cannot bring the dead to life, and nothing tears avail.
Even as a blazing house may be put out with water so,
The strong, the wise, the intelligent, who well the scrip trues know,
scatter their grief like coitton when the stormy winds do blow.

One mortal dies-to kindered ties born is another straight:
Each creature's bliss dependent is on ties associate.
The strong man therefore, skilled in sacred text,
KEen-contemplating this world and the next,
Knowing their nature, not by any grief,
However great, in mind and heart is vext.
So to my knidered I will give, them will I keep and feed,
All that remain i will maintain: Such is the wise man's deed.

In this he explained the impermanance of things.

Mo's death was a little wierd to me and changed some of my thoughts about things I thought would never go.

Now, I am so fascinated by death and I am going to read and find more of it. The learning engine starts again for me after months of stagnation.


At 2:45 AM, Blogger Prat said...

I am sorry to hear about your loss, and though your philosophy engine can get chugging, it can't really replace a human in flesh and blood, can it?
And am glad I discovered that you write very well.

At 4:23 AM, Blogger Vasu the terrible said...

One day we are all destined to die anyway. Its better to make a better today than hope for a better tomorrow.. isnt it ?

thanks for a complement, coming from a good writer, it is indeed morale boosting.


At 5:48 AM, Blogger small squirrel said...

an interesting story on so many levels, vasu. I do so admire how you can tell a story about everyday life that has many layers of meaning underneath. Each can choose what it means to him, her.. to explore.

As for Mo. May God (Allah) keep him. It's terrible. I am glad that David and Mo found their own detante.

The problem is so much bigger than Jew/Arab/Hindu/Christian, nah? We are all programmed to think a certain way. We are all mired in our own issues. There are whole ways of existence predicated on the maintenance of hate... otherwise, the entire fabric of power falls apart.

the squirrel is a cynic.

At 10:38 PM, Blogger Vasu the terrible said...

Squirril - Thats very true. There is no one single solution or way out of this morass.

Life is in different levels, Most of us want to just live by and its the powerful few who dictate the morals of the world.

thanks for your analysis. it was bang on target.

I dont know who said it, anyway here it goes.

"Only the paranoid and the cynic survive"

At 2:12 AM, Blogger Sudarshan said...

The only difference between Humans and animals is the power to think...and that has made us a lot worse.....the animals just fight for food, whereas we have a whole lot of other issues to fight and die for..absolutely meaningless.
As for as Mo's loss, Squirrel has said whatever I wanted to say

At 11:47 AM, Blogger Ramana Siddharth said...

lovely one vasu..over the last few articles i have noticed one thing-ur writing has become absolutely fabulous.the magic is that without getting 2 emotional ur able 2 convey feelings and emotions.i genuinely mean it man(not to flatter u!!)

At 10:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

mo is gone.. life goes on.. some adhere to his memories and some not..

life goes on.. such is life, it always begins with the end hanging by a string.. u swing for a while and then u fade away into the unknown abyss and the shadows it harbors..

At 12:12 AM, Blogger Shirin said...

Beautiful. Touching. Thought-provoking.


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