Friday, October 30, 2015

Sign Not in Use


Mat wanted to die because he thought life was too frivolous an affair to deserve itself.  He had already consulted many experts on the matter before he ran into me.

The doc whom he approached for medical assistance bluntly refused.  “You want me to spend the rest of my life in prison?” asked the doc furiously.  

“What prevented the doc from giving me the injection was fear of the prison,” Mat explained to me.  "Not any love of life."

“If the law did not prevent suicide, would you have helped me?” Mat asked the doc.  “If I try to commit suicide and fail, will the law be punishing me for failing to live or for failing to die?”

The doc stared blankly into Mat’s eyes.  Then the blankness became fury.  “Get out,” he said.

Then Mat went to his pastor.  “Nowhere in the Bible is it said that suicide is a sin,” explained Mat to the pastor.  And the pastor thought Mat was right.  The Old Testament’s Yahweh was very fond of rules and regulations.  In fact, the only purpose of His existence was to give rules to His chosen people.  Poor Jews.  They must have wished time and again for their God to choose some other race as the target of his affections. 

“You’re right,” said the pastor to Mat.  “Even the ten commandments don’t stipulate that Thou shalt not kill thyself.”

But the pastor couldn’t help Mat.  He didn’t know why but he knew suicide was a sin even if the Bible didn’t prohibit it.

“So the Bible is not the ultimate truth!” lamented Mat as he took leave of his pastor who had been thrown into deep contemplation by the rigmarole that appeared before him in the shape of a god-shaped hole in Mat’s soul. 


It was then that Mat ran into me. 

“Philosopher Schopenhauer would have been the right person to help you,” I said having listened to him patiently.  “He could speak about suicide very joyfully while having a sumptuous dinner.”

“Where is he?” asked Mat eagerly.

“He died,” I said indifferently because Schopenhauer had died a century before I was born.  “How cruel!” said Mat.  I don’t know which he found cruel: Schopenhauer’s death or my indifference.

I went to the gallery in my mobile phone and showed Mat a picture of a road with a signboard which read, “SIGN NOT IN USE.”

Mat laughed.

“So you have not lost the ability to laugh,” I said. 

“What do you mean?” he became serious again.

“You say life is frivolous.  Why don’t you laugh at it then?”  I was trying to give Mat a reason for living.  Most people want a reason for living though there really is none.  They borrow one from the Bible or the pastor, from Schopenhauer or the shopping mall, or from an engineering college or a medical college.  Let me be Mat’s Schopenhauer, I decided with some pride. Maybe, one day Mat will write his autobiography in which my name will appear as the person whose SIGN NOT IN USE saved his life.

“If a sign is not in use,” I listened with the concentration of a soul-saving counsellor as Mat asked me, “if a sign is not in use, how long can it continue to be in use?”

Mat was thinking seriously.  “Life is not as frivolous as I thought,” he said as started walking with a heavy head.


He will become a Schopenhauer, I thought.  “It is difficult to find happiness within yourself,” the philosopher had declared.  “But it is impossible to find it anywhere else.”

2 comments:

The group is always right

While having a frugal breakfast of dosa with chutney, I watched my wife’s face.   Pain was writ large on it.   Two days of struggle ...