I am not afraid of death because I am an atheist. I don’t believe in life after death. I don’t think there is heaven or hell or anything of that sort.
Sharath Komarraju, 30 years, novelist, Bangalore
Interviewed by Poorva Dinesh
Why did you decide to speak on death?
Because I think, as a rule, human beings live for too long.
Which is why you decided to speak on death?
Yes, but also it’s not something most people would like to speak on.
Has there been a death in your family or friend circle that has affected you?
Yeah, the death of my first cousin. My cousin died at the age of 32. He was a father of a five-year-old girl, and they all were travelling in a car, and he was driving the car. His father was sitting next to him; his mother, wife and daughter were at the back seat. All of them got through without any injuries, but he died in the car. This was a couple of years ago, so yes, that sort of triggered a few questions
What were those questions?
Not questions…per say…I guess; it was more of a realization that it’s really very difficult. Death is not something that is somewhere in the future, it’s actually part of our life. It can happen any day.
Did that change your perception about life and death?
No, I think you know of death even without a death in your family. So you know it in theory. You hear everybody saying its part of life and all of that, but going through a death in the close family, and seeing how people react to it gives you a deeper perspective, I guess, and you spend more time thinking about it. I have always been that kind of person. I was always somebody who thought life was fickle anyway, so maybe that reinforced my opinion. So it didn’t change me, but it deepened my inclinations.
Are you scared of death? I am guessing you are not.
I am not because I am an atheist. I don’t believe in life after death. I don’t think there is heaven or hell or anything of that sort. So I expect death to be some long painless sleep. I am afraid of the transition from life to death, because that may be painful.
Painful for you and your family?
No. For me maybe.
I would choose for a painless death if I had a choice. But I don’t have a choice. I am scared of a prolonged illness, because then I would probably have to see my family members suffering…and all of that. I am afraid of the process of dying if it’s going to be a long one. But the state of death itself…no; I am not scared.
What does love mean to you?
What does love mean to me? (laughs) Depends on what kind of love you mean…there are different kinds of love.
If I say the word ‘love’, what comes to your mind?
To me love is the romantic kind of love, and then there is platonic kind of love. Platonic love I think is more about companionship, for me. It doesn’t have to be true companionship or objectively pure form of companionship. I think having some companionship is better than nothing because human beings are built to be happier in someone’s company.
With romantic love, there is a sexual element to it. Especially in the early part of married life, which can only be described as a high I guess, then again, it goes down and becomes companionship. Basically it becomes more platonic. Most semantic or long-term relationships are primarily platonic. I think romantic love as a form of love is very temporary, and then it’s just about being comfortable with each other.