In the movie Forrest Gump, the lead character says “Life is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get.”
That line as an apt metaphor for life has become one of the most quotable quotes in Hollywood’s history. But an even more quotable quote would have been “Death is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get.”
While we come into the world in more or less the same way, the way we leave it presents a selection of choices which might well give an inferiority complex to an assortment of Swiss chocolates.
Indeed, life seems to be at its creative best when it comes to new ways of devising death. Over the ages, medical science has discovered more and more means by which we can fulfil the obligation that our mortal state bestows upon us.
Apart from man-made weapons of mass murder such as wars, and natural calamities such as floods and earthquakes, life seems to find ingenious ways by which to end itself.
In an old cemetery in Calcutta there is the tomb of a young memsahib of the British Raj who is said to have expired from “a surfeit of pineapples”, a fruit which apparently exercised a literally fatal attraction upon her, and who is the subject of a poem by Walter Savage Landor.
In contemporary times death’s dominion has been ruled over by the two big Cs, Cancer and Cardiac, to which has now been added the third C of Coronavirus, or Covid-19.
But for all the global golmaal that it’s caused, the coronavirus is a johnny-come-lately upstart as compared with the so-called Spanish flu which between 1918 and 1920 is said to have infected some 500 million people – one-third of the planet’s population at the time – and killed anywhere between 20 million to over 50 million.
The reason that death has to be so inventive about going about its business is because if it weren’t its inevitability would make life a bore.
It’s like watching a thriller being staged. When the curtain comes down at the end, you know that the villain will get his comeuppance, that’s taken for granted. It’s how he gets it is what makes a thriller a thriller.
It’s the end, and not knowing how it comes about, that makes the thriller called life exciting. The suspense, as they say, is killing.
This article is intended to bring a smile to your face. Any connection to events and characters in real life is coincidental.
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