“In the Long Run We are All Dead” is a quote by a famous economist that many of us have heard of, John Maynard Keynes. While going through my CFA notes today, I thought not only might this be true for the economy or the circle of life and death in general, but also the fact that we become ‘dead men walking’ as we reach ‘maturity’.

Let me elaborate on my thought further. My childhood memories are now in some distant corner of my legal/financial/calculating brain, but I do remember that when my mom got my ears pierced for the first time in Karachi at the age of four; I cried like anything although I only felt a pinch. When I sometimes end up in hospitals now (thanks to food poisoning from Pakistani weddings and my chronic asthma), I hardly feel the injections while the nurses keep pushing needles inside me to find my veins. My point being, I felt much more alive and human when I was a child.

I used to take pride in small accomplishments and discoveries I made. My major accomplishment as a child of five years old was taking a shower for the first time by myself. It might sound horrific if I say this now, but I hated taking a shower as a child for the simple reason that I had a habit of getting soap in my eyes and then crying non-stop. It took me five years of my life to discover that if I kept my eyes closed and then washed my face with soap lather, it wouldn’t actually hurt my eyes. I feel no such accomplishment in washing my face everyday now; it is part of my ‘day management’ process.

I remember cursing God for the creation called ‘night’ as a child. Darkness has always been the worst of my fears. It wans’t until a few years back that I was able to label this fear as ‘Necrophobia’. As a child I loved life, school, friends etc but I wished to God every night to give me a short life so I wouldn’t have to see night time and sleep in the dark for an average of 65 years more. I remember sleeping between my mom and dad after watching horror movies or waking up from a nightmare. I absolutely love and adore my father, but I also remember the difference in comfort I got when I hugged my mom and slept peacefully after watching a horror movie while I couldn’t feel the same comfort with my dad. This was the first time I realized what people meant when they said “heaven lies beneath the feet of ones mother”. I have to admit I still sleep with my lights on in the room and it amounts to an excessive electricity bill which I have to pay every month, but I actually do not realize when I reach home, change into my sleeping suit and doze off to sleep to wake up for 7:30 am.

My father being in merchant navy and having spent most of my childhood on trading ships, I used to love playing hide and seek with my father while he was on duty in the control room at night. As of now I have been playing hide and seek with my parents for the last 9 years; I hide the whole year in London and go back three times a year to see my parents in Pakistan.

Sadly, I also clearly remember the sense of loss I felt when my first dog ‘Kitty’ died. I was about five years old and returned from school to have lunch with my parents and grandparents. My parents and grandparents were looking at each other as to whether to tell me of the sad news or not. My mom and dad then told me and took me outside to see Kittys dead body. I screamed , cried and went to sleep only to wake up screaming from a nightmare and being consoled by my mom back to sleep. My grandmother died a long time back but my same grandfather who hesitated telling me of Kittys death, passed away a couple of years back and I haven’t shed a tear on his death to-date; perhaps because I never got to attend his funeral as I was having exams to secure my bright future ahead away from Pakistan.

I used to be a romantic observer of nature all around me. I used to take time to watch the sunset, full moon and rainbows and as a result I was outstanding at painting and sketches. It just came naturally to me. However, I let this talent rest in peace after my grandfather’s death which was marked by gifting my father the first and last portrait ever I drew (along with someones help) of my grandfather.

I always enjoyed the rain as a child. For most of us who come from Pakistan, rain was an excuse for a treat of ‘pakoras’, some yummy tomato kethcup and ‘karake daar chai’. It might still be the same back home but its been years since I have enjoyed the monsoon season in Pakistan. I now dread the rainy weather in London and amongst other mysteries that I carry in my purse, have to keep an umbrella in the bag all the time, simply because it might cause tube closures and make me late for work. When it rains in London, there is what I call the ‘butterfly effect’.

I always knew death is dark and grim but I never knew as a child birth came with much more pain. Thanks to my mom being a gynaecologist, I got to watch a live delivery for the very first time in Sir Ganga Ram Hospital Lahore at the age of nine. Don’t get me wrong, my mom didn’t try to torture me. I was waiting for my mom to come out of the ward, but the door was left open where a woman was giving birth. It was truly Disgusting and a Shocking experience for me. Today, I hear of my friends giving birth right left and center. Its almost like my friends have become baby-popping machines (no offence).

Being such a romantic by virtue of my very astrology (gemini) I finally experienced my very first crush. I hated the change in my biology, approach and feelings. I hated the fact I couldn’t focus at times on my studies thinking about him, myself and our future. I loved repelling his thought out of my mind by envisioning a future where I would be the President of Pakistan and doing some great things instead of getting involved in relationships. I was only eleven and I used to promise my friends, This will be the Man I will Marry even if He says No! Ha! Soon I realized it was just a crush but this feeling for someone special had found a place in my day-to-day life. To fulfill this gap I started believing in someones future coming and collecting various cards, stuffed toys etc in a box for that special someone. Over the years, coming across so many people from the opposite gender and getting to know them, I feel this box is only as good as a reminiscence of my childhood and I shall gift it to myself the day I marry; not because no one deserves it as someone will only be as deserving as I make them, but because I have realized how important ones individuality is and that no one can become a part of my childhood.

I could have gone across the oceans to meet my better half if I knew where he was once upon a time, but now I am just ready as anyone else to settle with a compromise in my very comfort zone. It is perhaps because feelings have died with maturity. Alas! How I wish to go back in the past and be as sure of marrying someone now as my very first crush. Unfortunately, a part of growing up is realizing feelings die, marriages die, attraction dies and people die. Wise people around me keep telling me that marriage doesn’t end in boredom but with a transformation of the relationship into an even stronger bond with kids and family. I disagree. The moment the attraction flare dies in a marriage (which always does), people should be seeking therapy not kids. The first step in solving a problem is to acknowledge the problem which we mostly fail to do so.

So now when I am approached by men for meaningful companionship, my instantaneous reaction is to switch off and repel that person as I am insecure of myself; I am insecure that I can give that person meaningful companionship beyond that feeling of attraction. Whether I feel a certain attraction for a person or not, I now try to overcome it rather than going with the flow as I know it will die in a few weeks. It is however quite amusing that the child inside us remains the same even now in such situations. The feeling of attraction, love, rage, care, reaction all remains the same as when we were children. The difference is I just now know how it will end up: It is not Happily Ever After but Boredom Ever After.

So I guess I am pretty much already dead. Death probably lies in knowing everything. Perhaps this is the reason whatever happens after death has not been revealed to us humans. Because if we knew what happens after death we would probably stop living as it is.

By Sana Hameed Baba

 


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