We make plans, don’t we? Dinner plans, holiday plans, life plans. We don’t usually plan against death. Or, indeed, against the upsetting of our plans for ourselves. Plan Bs are also just more of the same—plans that will allow us to envision success or indulgence or celebration or growth in a particular direction. Some of us even have plan Cs and Ds. Few of us have the heart to plan permanent farewells to the people we love, or indeed, to our own recognisable selves.
In all innocence, the poet
(Mirza Ghalib) asks—
Maut ka ek din mu’ayan hai/ Neend kyun raat bhar nahin aati
The day of death is preordained / Why do I lie awake all night?
As if he didn’t know! The thought that death is sure to come for us is not what keeps us awake at night. It is not knowing whether we will be able to survive and acquit ourselves well in the time that is given to us. It is being afraid of wasting time, and of losing the people we love, or failing to give them the best version of ourselves while we can. What keeps us...