Death teaches self-love

This interview with Vani took place in the backseat of her car on a late Saturday afternoon. The interview wasn’t very long, and yet so much was said. Experiencing death of near and dear ones has taught her to pray for her family first and ask for their well being, and not that of the entire mankind. Read this truthful account of an IT Professional and how her perception towards the people around her and the world at large has changed drastically after she lost her in-laws.

Vani Menon, 40 years, IT Professional, Bangalore

Interviewed by Poorva Dinesh

Why did you give us an interview on death?
I have been very fascinated by it frankly. It’s something that I cannot explain.

Has there been a death in your family?
A couple of them actually. I lost both my in-laws in a period of a year, and the deaths have been quite tragic in many ways. I think of it very often.

Is that why you decided to give us an interview on death?
I think so. I do think a lot about it.

Have the deaths of your in-laws changed you?
Not necessarily; not as a person. But it has changed the way I look at things, and the way I see other people. I look at people and wonder if they will matter when I am at my deathbed.

Would you like to elaborate?
I was a person who gave a lot of importance to things happening around me. And by that I mean, relatives or change in finances etc. But these tragedies (the deaths) helped me get the bigger picture. I always ask myself, “is it really going to matter?” God forbid, tomorrow if I just leave and go how many would I really care about? Would I really care about losing five lakh rupees you know? Such things…

Death quotes

Do you think these deaths have made you a better person?
I think it is the opposite (laughs)…these events have made me more selfish than I was before. Earlier I had a very rosy picture about life – that we will all live forever and everything is going to be fine and the relationships we are going to share are going to be the same. But somewhere this has been a wake-up call, and made me realize that once you are dead, you are gone and there is nothing that is in your control. So I try to be controlling now, because it is the only time I can do it.

Can you give us one or two examples of how selfish you can be? (Poorva and Vani laugh)
Earlier when I used to pray, I said a very general prayer, but now my prayer goes more like, “keep all three of us safe”. It’s more about just the three of us now. I don’t pray for the entire humanity, which I used to do earlier. I wanted everyone to be happy and all, but now I don’t pray for everyone.
When it comes to selfishness also, it’s always about how much the other person would love me in return. If I am gone, would this person really take care of my husband or my child? Only people I know will be there, are the people I pay attention to. Earlier I used to treat everyone equally, be friendly to everyone but not anymore.

(ALSO READ: When A Bangle Vendor Is Also A Shrewd Businesswoman)

I get a feeling you are not very comfortable with the idea of death…
Nobody is comfortable with death. See once I am dead and gone, I cannot see what happens afterwards but because there have been deaths or near-death experiences, it has helped me see how the world would react, and because I have seen others there is no reason for me to be logical and analytical about it.

The last question has nothing to do with your interview topic. But we ask everyone we interview – what does love mean to you?
(Laughs) love actually means many things, but in just a sentence I think the power to make anyone happy. That is the definition of love for me.


Categories: Death

Meet the interviewer

Poorva Dinesh

Poorva would love to call herself a writer, but doesn’t write much these days. Apart from reminding herself everyday about her two unfinished books, Poorva manages the day-to-day operations of Interviewing India and “talks to strangers” as her children put it. Even within the II Team, Poorva is notorious for walking up to complete strangers and requesting them for an interview.

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