A few years ago, India witnessed a hanging! Between the hangman and the media, the late Dhnanjoy Chatterjee was made a hero before he died and a martyr after his death. Hangman Nata Mullick who executed the rapist and murderer fell sick after coming out of Alipore Jail and said that he couldn’t get over the last words of the murderer who blessed him and forgave him for the hanging that he was about to do!
His last words were not about repenting for the heinous crime, or feeling sorrowful for the family who had lost their teenage daughter; his last words were one of a self-righteous hypocrite! Strangely unlike many of us, the late Dhananjoy was a lucky man; he knew when he was going to die. He had a chance to say sorry to those he had wronged and to ask forgiveness from his God.
I have my doubts he did either. Most of us will never get this chance to be prepared for death. Death will come silently and swiftly and take us away before we have a chance to get ourselves right with those we have been unjust with, and to a God who has loved us despite the kind of people we have been.
There is an old story of a jester who sometimes made very wise utterances. One day, the jester had said something so foolish that the king, handing him a staff, said to him, “Take this, and keep it till you find a bigger fool than yourself.”
Some years later, the king was very ill, and lay on his deathbed. His courtiers were called; his family and his servants also stood round his bedside. The king, addressing them, said, “I am about to leave you. I am going on a very long journey, and I shall not return again to this place: so I have called you all to say “Goodbye”.
Then his jester stepped forward and, addressing the king, said, “Your Majesty, may I ask a question? When you journeyed abroad visiting your people, staying with your nobles, or paying diplomatic visits to other courts, your heralds and servants always went before you, making preparations for you. May I ask what preparations your majesty has made for this long journey that he is about to take?”
“Alas!” replied the king, “I have made no preparations.” “Then,” said the jester, “Take this staff with you, for now I have found a bigger fool than myself!” I would like to end this piece with an epitaph C.S. Lewis saw on a grave: Here lies an atheist, All dressed up but with nowhere to go..!
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