No, I have not reached Baghdad, I am bookless in my own home in the Delhi suburb. Our small flat sparsely furnished with hostel type wooden plank beds, woven wooden chairs and no sofa, minimalist dining table is infinitely difficult to clear because of the five thousand books it contains. I am a bibliophile, and if I ever wanted to earn money, have a full fledged career, a home of my own and not marry at all was to be able to lead a life all by myself among my favourite books. And today these books were being taken down from their states of ensconce meant in their respective shelves, tied up together in bundles, packed and moved by carts to a warehouse which Madhusree and I have rented for the month for the house jobs to be done.
As the books are dismantled, lain on the floor, ritually classified and eventually tied it gave me the sense of my own death. I felt that I was now a corpse, lying down on the floor, my attendants come in and tie me up to the bier and carry me into the hearse van. As the books are loaded on to the rickshaw van, I can hear my neighbours shriek with dismay wondering whether we were shifting out of the locality, never knew we were popular. I can again see my own death, as my body is moved out of the premises, my neighbours will despair, if for nothing then at least for the electricity complaints I always made for them. Anyway, neighbours were amazed, never before they have known people shift homes for paint and tile jobs!!
Anyway, books are now all gone, the house looks empty, I sit alone watching television. My favourite show the CID is on but without books I sit as if without my body. Is this how it feels on the day of death? Television does not seem as it always is, the door bell rings, the magazine boy comes in with issues of Sananda and Bartaman. I do not seem to relate to these magazines at all in my state of bodiless ness. I am no longer anybody I feel. The living room looks totally empty now, cleared of all furniture, just the way it would look on the day of my final departure. People would come in to pay their respects I suppose and to accommodate so many of them, space would have been created by removing everything. My house manager Suraj is busy handing glasses of cold water to the workers, just the way he would do on the day of my death.
Years ago when I joined a course on past life regression, the life coach asked me to imagine how I died in my past life. I said that I was on a big ship, all white amidst a quiet and calm ocean with azure blue waters and the sky was dazzling bright with golden light. This morning, the sky dazzled with that same light. Only recently I read of the ship of Theseus, the ship that brings death of Socrates. My ship of death fits so well with the Theseus. I wonder whether I could have been Socrates in my other life. May be, possible still have to take a play us quiz to find out.
Georgia was moving about aimlessly, extremely distressed at our things going out of the door. Just the way I try to distract myself with the television, she tries to distract herself by barking at the neighbour’s cat.
Then all is quiet. I sleep off in the afternoon. Madhusree comes home and Suraj returns once more to the house to a quiet dinner and some hot teas afterwards. We sit future less, vapid, aimless, gazing at a tomorrow that promises nothing. Tomorrow the work will begin. The bed has to be dismantled and so the television. But that hardly matters, for we are now dead, and these are only the process of the rituals.
Madhusree crashes down in the bed and sleeps off; she is relieved of the burden of our possessions. She revels in the ashram like atmosphere in the home. Our lampshades are packed too in the warehouse, the vanity of soft lighting is gone and we are left with drab yellow cfl mounted on the wall. The reprints of masters on our walls look lifeless as well without our lamps around them, they appear as actors in the greenwood without make up.
Night has now fallen, our first night in this bodiless state. It is,unsettling, this death of mine, I must plan better for the eventual one. For that d day, I will have to forego my worldly attachments especially to my books. For that to happen, I must read each of my books thoroughly, absorb and assimilate them so thoroughly that it could well have been written by me. Only then will I carry my books in my soul, be liberated from the bodily attachment to them and only then be death ready and really enjoy my cosmic journey to the other world. That is my aim now.