The very last tango

The very last tango

Being the eldest in the family, I was invited first to lay bare my death wish.

I have a naughty nephew. He is irreverent and fully expressed, whole and complete, and in total integrity with himself in whatever he does. In one of the family gatherings, this nephew shouted across the room, “Uncle, what do you think of the German millionaire who has declared that he would leave half his wealth to the person in whose arms he dies?” Hiding my admiration with some difficulty for the millionaire for his innovative idea, I let out a grunt of disapproval for public consumption.

The subject soon veered to everyone giving a scenario of their choice at the time their deaths. Being the eldest in the family, I was invited first to lay bare my death wish. Kind of a first come-first-go as they do in inventory management. I had no doubt that I would like to die at my usual jogging track just as I complete my half marathon with the stopwatch reading less than 140 minutes. It would be a shame to be caught underperforming during the final and irrevocable act of one’s life.  

My wife, pushing down her glasses to the tip of her nose, said that she was clear that she would like to die seeing her grandchildren playing on the lawn. To appear firm in her resolve, she declared that that was why “I have told him that it would be over my dead body that if anyone in the family entertains the thought of selling this house.”

The choice then fell to an avid golfer and he said without hesitation that he would like to croak on the golf course. Not anywhere on the golf course, but on the nineteenth hole. All at once, he gave away the secret of his pot-belly and his claims of holes-in-one became suspect.

Our conversation was interrupted by a call from someone and irrepressible as my nephew is, he posed the same question to the caller, a dear friend of ours. This is what she said. “I want to die with a pen in one hand and a dictionary in the other, writing a story.”

“I thought that death was a matter of head and heart,” piped in a venture capitalist of the family. “If hands are allowed, I would rather die with scotch in one hand and a cigarette in the other, dropping the Marlborough ash on the wife’s saree.”

The directory of choices was building  thick and fast from dying while playing piano, with the pet in hand, in harness, with the boots on, etc. After the round was over, it was back to my nephew who had been moderating the conversation. He was as clear as daylight when he declared, “I will be damned if I let the millionaire fellow be the only one to die in this novel and romantic way.” He is now busy earning his millions.

After the guests departed, I sat nursing my cognac and this line from an Urdu couplet flashed in my mind. “Wahi hota hai jo manzoor-e- khuda hota hai...” (only that happens which is agreed to by the almighty).
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