We are the eternally damned. You and I. From the moment of birth, we are doomed to die. As consciousness increases, so does our awareness of our mortality. Be it cremation, burial or vultures, all that we see in the mirror day after day, is going to meet with the same end.
A few years ago, I decided I wanted to donate my organs, to mark an eventful birthday. Eyes to skin. Take it all. The flames were going to devour my body any way. We are always seeking a purpose in life, so why not give death a purpose too? When the time came to pledge my organs, I got cold feet. Momentarily, but I did hesitate. Thereafter, I have sounded out family and friends. It was a revelation of how the human mind holds on to a body whose final destination is inevitable, no matter the mode of transportation to the other side.
Quandary 1 (Me) : What if I can feel pain even when I am dead? Imagine donating all these parts without anaesthesia, screaming in silent agony and nobody can hear you. How are they so sure we do not feel anything after death? This was my only fear, foolish or not. Then I figured I was going to be consigned to flames ultimately. There was no escaping my speculative agony after death theory, so I signed on the dotted line.
Quandary 2 (family member) : What if it is bad Karma? What if the person is supposed to suffer and we are interfering with the laws of nature using science? What if I get punished for mutilating my own body? Isn’t that why suicide is considered a sin? I would worry about risking the journey of my soul by tampering with my body.
Quandary 3 (family member) : Imagine if my eyes went to a murderer or an evil person. I might see the world through those eyes. Just like that movie, “Eyes of Laura Mars.”
Quandary 4 (friend) : It sounds too gruesome. I cannot imagine putting my family through looking at my mangled remains. It will be tough enough to deal with my death.
Quandary 5 (friend) : I have not thought about it. I am sure one kidney more or less is not going to make a difference. It is not something that interests me. It is like adoption or euthanasia. I have never thought about that either. I do not think too much of these sort of things.
Quandary 6 (friend) : I believe if we think of issues like dying, we attract negative energy. It may be inviting misfortune early. This is why I do not want to make a will either.
Quandary 7 (friend) : I worry they might misuse my organs. Maybe they will not use them at all. Then why go through the process? They might sell them in the blackmarket. There is no guarantee of anything so I prefer not to waste them.
Quandary 8 (friend) : I am into fitness and beauty. I believe in looking my best. My body is my temple and I cannot desecrate it myself. It goes against the grain.
Quandary 9 (friend) : I genuinely believe the world is going to come to an end. Every prophecy points to the end of mankind. I doubt there will be use for any organs since there are going to be no people.
Quandary 10 (friend) : I am sure there is too much paperwork involved. I hate filling forms. I certainly do not want my family to be running around signing consent forms at a time they would be grieving for me.
Quandary 11 (family member) : Say, if I donate my eyes, will I be blind in heaven? How do you know I will not need my eyes after death? I may be reborn blind because I donated my eyes in the previous life.
Quandary 12 ( family member) : I hate making decisions. I leave it to my family to decide for me. It is too big a commitment with too many unanswered questions. Let someone else take the call. Once I am gone, I do not really care.
This is not an article about persuasion or persecution. This is about trying to understand what holds us back from passing the baton of life after we have finished our leg of the race. As humans, we are bound together by similar fears, emotions, physical and material needs, and yes.. organs. Each and every opinion deserves respect because it is the prerogative of the individual.
The unknown is fiction. An open ended mystery.
The known is fact. We can make a difference in life and in the after life.
We can live on forever. Sort of.
Alisha “Priti” Kirpalani is the author of “A Smattering Of Darkness: Short and Shorter Twisted Tales,” a collection of short stories of varying lengths encapsulating the grey shades of the human psyche. Her new novel will be released later this year.