Bit of wit: Obit cliches, done to death

  • Vikramdeep Johal, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Apr 06, 2015 13:30 IST

It’s over. And I’m still alive, though one can never be dead sure about it. Having written my previous piece under the influence of influenza, I’m now back to my five senses. The swine flu-that-wasn’t kept me bed-bound for more than a week, and I feared THE END was nigh. Death seemed to be ringing my doorbell, but I didn’t have the strength, or the manners to get up and offer him a cup of tea.

I wondered whether this was a punishment for my ungodliness or for not taking a bath five days in a row. What’s worse, I had nightmarish visions of my obituary notice appearing in newspapers – without being edited and proof-read by me. Now that the life-threatening storm has passed, I’m taking the liberty of dissecting these notices that abound with age-old cliches and euphemisms. Here are the usual suspects:

Rest in peace (RIP): According to experts in spirits, the soul remains trapped like a prisoner inside the body during one’s lifetime, tossing and turning in frustration. It’s death that frees the never-say-die atma . So why shouldn’t the poor soul finally have some fun? It badly needs loads of fresh air and exciting action. The most boring thing one can wish for is to rest in peace. Instead, let’s pray for its eternal bliss – and visa-free travel between this world and the next. Forget the stale RIP, make it RTP (rock the party).

Heavenly abode: How can we say with confidence that our dear departed has gone to heaven? Where’s the postcard or long-distance call to back our claim? Since most of us have skeletons tucked away in our cupboards, we deserve a hot spot in hell rather than the cool comfort of heaven. Blame it on Adam and Eve, who got tempted by the Apple (now known as the iPhone) and were thrown out of Paradise like illegal immigrants. Since then, hell has been the sole true home of our sinful lot.

Untimely demise: The phrase makes sense if a youngster or even a middle-aged person has died; it sounds ridiculous if a 90-plus fellow has given up the ghost. The grand old man might have been colouring his hair jet-black, a la Dilip Kumar, but there’s no befooling Father Time for too long.

Cynically speaking, the demise of someone who has left behind a mouth-watering will is most ‘timely’ for his near and dear ones. Profound grief is written all over their faces, but deep inside, they are jumping with joy. And it’s so tough for them to wait for the funeral rites to end and the spoils to come their way.

No separate cards are being sent : This line makes you seem so tight-fisted. Agreed, you have spent thousands on the obit notice, but now’s the time to swallow a bitter pill and brace yourself for more expenditure. Get those bhog/kirya cards printed in bulk, preferably embroidered with golden flowers, and send them through express delivery.

Professionalism is the name of the endgame. Make people believe that money is no issue for you when it comes to showing respect for the diseased, sorry, deceased. Paying homage is easy. Paying through the nose is the hard part.

If you pass this acid test, expect a decent sendoff yourself, though one can never be dead sure about it. Like it or not, the only certainty of life is death. Now who said that line before me?

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