I've been obsessing over the idea of "fear of death" lately. Growing up in a Muslim family where we're taught that death is just another form of future (in Muslim belief, this current life is just a short period of trial and the actual life starts after we die) I kind of stopped feeling anything about death. It is something that's supposed to happen one day, sometimes in horrible ways and sometimes in honorable ways. And in the frenzy of knowing more about how people think of death or other's dying , I started collecting death quotes. I came across Janne Teller's words, “From the moment we are born, we begin to die.” And it hard because HOLY SHIT we're simply running out of time but the only difference is that we don't know our clock. And The Book Thief made me see death as a sensible, hardworking, sad employee and I highlighted a good amount of death's words in my book. One line I can't forget, “It kills me sometimes, how people die.”
And then there's a quote from Matty Healy, the insane artist, the boy with uncontrollable hair and graceless walk: '"My biggest fear is death. The end of the Matty show.”
Maybe this is why many people politely refuse to imagine about death, what a pity to think about the ending of the great show. And this is the reason why many people make art, to linger around even when they can't anymore, to leave something behind to be a little close to staying alive when they're not.
And below is an example of what went in my mind a few days ago when I was talking to Matty Healy in my imagination. He's known for a suicide he hasn't committed. After Halsey's song Colors, we're afraid he might take his life to get a place in the 27 Club. Though he has said countless times that he isn't going to kill himself but you can't trust Matty.
I had a feeling that he wouldn't want to discuss death because he's afraid of it so our topic was dead people. Dead people of Areeba's life.
Me: Dear Matty, what a great time in my head. Thank you for coming, let's start.
Matty Healy: Hi.
Me: That's a nice question. I think about death a great deal. not that I am suicidal or anything. Death only makes me feel guilty that one day I am going to die and embarrass myself in front of angels and God Himself. You know, they ask questions about religion and prayers and I haven't done very well in all of it. I'm not even making better progress. My only hope is my mother praying for me when I'm gone. Else I am going to be in a great trouble for the rest of the eternity. My grave will be flowerless. The hell before hell.
MH: It's weird you think about it, I don't casually give death much of a thought unless it's for a song or when someone gives me a death threat.
Me: WHY WOULD SOMEONE GIVE YOU A DEATH THREAT?
MH: Because I'm exactly the kind of person people give death threats to
Me: WHAT ARE THEIR CHARGES? YOU ROTTING THE YOUTH? PREACHING ABOUT WEED? PRETENDING TO BE THE MESSIAH?
Me: You're way too controversial. It'd have been a shame if you hadn't gotten them in the first place.
MH: This is why it doesn't bother me anymore, I'm quite deserving. Worked very well for it.
MH: No more talk about your future death.
MH: Maybe some stories about dead people would work.
MH: No suicides.
Me; I don't know much about real dead people, honestly. My grandmother died in a hospital hundreds of miles away from me, I was probably asleep at that time. Her death was the most real to me, my first time to lose an actual family member. But I didn't go to her funeral. I don't go to funerals. Not that they're depressing or anything. I just kind of go senseless there, I can't cry and it makes me feel guilty (death brings me guilt!?!?) I kind of force myself to cry if I ever end up going there and it makes me even more guilty that I can't bring one single tear to my eyes, not even forcefully, for a freshly dead human. So I try my best to avoid all of the funerals. But if you want to know more about fictional or popular dead people, I won't be a disappointment.
MH: Nice, just don't go mental. okay?
Me: Alright. Starting from Addams family. They give me hope to be a happy family, but first we all need to be dead (maybe this is the only way??!??) And my friends tell me that I'm Wednesday Addams, with shorter hair. I sometimes feel like that too. I fee like the way too religious version Wednesday Addams, born in the wrong era, in the wrong house and way more alive.
Then comes Benazir Bhutto, have you heard of her? She was the first ever female prime minister of Pakistan. Her murder changed my whole life. If it wasn't for her murder, I'd be a successful political science student, doing rebellious things in college, being arrested by women police for creating a chaos, proudly ruining my youth for politics, getting punched in the nose and bringing revolution . But she died 9 years ago by a bullet and ruined my career. Now I'm a purposeless teen hanging in a dark void with no aim to achieve in life.
ME: It's crazy, how did a dead woman ruin so much for you so easily?
Me: The thing is, I was a politics-obsessed 10 years old that time. I thought I knew politics . I'd watch dozens of political talk shows and NEVER miss 9pm's news bulletin. I had memorized the names of all of our ministers and politicians of that time and kept track of what each political party was doing. I thought I knew where the politics of our country was going. A huge misunderstanding, obviously.
So when Benazir Bhutto came back to Pakistan after years of exile, people went crazy. I knew she was going to flip the political game & win the elections and become our prime minister again. Her debates were fire. She was winning the game. She was supposed to be the winner but she was killed instead. A bullet killed her when she was meeting her supporters after another successful address in Karachi. She simply died. And that day, my grandfather told me that politics is just a dirty business, you can't know what's going to happen because it's not your game. And then my life shattered into pieces, I was so bitter that day. I was an honest kid and politics was too dirty, too hard, I couldn't play anymore. So I eliminated my intentions to be a part of any political shit from that moment in my life. I haven't paid much attention to politics since then. A dead woman broke my heart and my life ambition, ta da!
MH: Anything else?
Me: DON'T MAKE ME FEEL BAD ABOUT MYSELF. I ONCE HAD A DREAM WHERE YOU INSULTED ME.
MH: It wasn't me but I'm still deeply sorry to you. I was actually asking for more stories.
Me: As if I don't know you, you live in my head for a reason. Anyway, here's another one. It's about Umar Jahangir. He's a character from an emotionally disturbing yet my most favorite novel (Amarbail) He dies in the very last chapter. I've never gotten over him.
MH: What's so special about this dead man?
Me: He's not your archetype hero or a villain. He's a hybrid of both. At one point you'd want to punch him in the face and in the next moment you'd want to rescue his broken nose and take care of him. He's a fool. Umar Jahangir is a fool. And he does everything to destroy himself. It's so painful to see something so regal being destroyed by insanity. He was born in a powerful family with troubled DNA. And did everything he shouldn't have done Plus he fell in love, which was the end of him.
MH: Sounds like me, I'm just more alive than him.
Me: You don't live in a book.
MH: I'm a fake, there's news on internet. I might be from a book.
Me: We all are pretentious shits, don't worry.
MH: Back to Umar?
Me: Right, when he dies (again, a bullet) I thought it was some kind of a joke because this meant I read 800+ pages just to find him dead in the end. If I could, I would totally pull him out of the book and assure him that he's safe now. Not even that goddamn writer can hurt him (not the goddamn writer, I love her so much, I'm just mad at her sometimes) I want her to write a sequel where she reveals that Umar faked his own death.
MH: But it'll never happen.
Me: Thanks for the hope.
MH: You're obsessed with dead people, is it healthy?
Me: My obsession with alive people isn't helping me either.
It ends here. It's a work of pure fiction because I don't know if Matty actually got any death threats (he might have, he's got reputation) Thanks for reading, it got a little long.