The week gone, the rumour mill announced Lata Mangeshkar, Shah Rukh Khan and Asha Parekh dead. Before being taken off the Internet, their pre-mature obituaries had done the damage. Lata Mangeshkar took it in her stride and told the world gently that she was fine. By then, my heart had almost sunk and I thought of my uncles who fancied marrying the nightingale for the love of listening to her melodies.
I was just about to pick up my laptop for writing an obit when I turned on the television and found it silent about a grave event.
Google search helped me find out that it was a hoax, thankfully. American actor Morgan Freeman had once joked about the false news of his death: “My afterlife seems identical to my life when I was alive. That is anything but a death sentence.”
Announced dead on the Inter net, Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner had remarked: “I’m happy to see how many people are pleased that I’m not dead.” Even Hollywood action star Arnold Schwarzenegger was once reported dead, and Pope John Paul II was subject of no less than three premature obituaries.
Our own legendary leader-Jayaprakash Narayan was announced dead by none other than the prime minister, triggering a brief wave of national mourning, including the suspension of Parliament and regular radio broadcast, besides the closing of schools and shops. There were apologies galore, later, when the news turned out false.
Former president APJ Abdul Kalam also has suffered this prank, and on November 9, 2005, some fast TV channels reported former president KR Narayanan dead a few hours before his time. Having known Mubarak Begum, legendary singer of Bollywood, I was shocked to read about her death. A call confirmed that she was alive but now she was after my life, and calling me names over telephone for disturbing her.
When lively actor Kadar Khan was reported dead in February last year, it was upsetting for his family. After a similar mess, I once heard my father, at 80, telling a friend on telephone: “I wouldn’t die till I am alive.” He lived for two more years.
They say it adds years to your life if your death is talked about. So, long live the not-dead!