When Death Becomes a Regular Feature Of Life

by Harum Scarum

It’s not at all amusing but very funny how – at this special time of one’s life –  Death has become such a regular feature. Who would believe that barely two days after  I helped my neighbour “Jinx”* push his old car, he  died of a heart attack?

Incidentally, the way how I got the news of Jinx’s passing was also cause for discomfiting consternation tinged with humour. Or as the old people say: “Thing to cry for, you laughing”.

I got a wake-up call from Scobie, a long-time a community resident who reacted to my “Hello” in a hesitant, diffident tone.

“…I don’t know how to say this…but…”, he said solemnly, “ …I hear you dead!”



After sifting through the pieces of the jig saw puzzle, we deduced that the dead man was Jinx, and not me. Which is probably why I lost much of  my Pension money which I  later betted on the Number 4 (Dead Man) mark in that day’s Play Whe game, based on Scobie’s encouragement.

Which also raises the issue of the disturbing number of old people  who have been dying by violent means at the hands of  young males who can be their grand-children.

Compared to erstwhile days when the village raised a child and old people were revered by the young, today it’s a tragically different story. Not a week   goes by without a news-breaking story about a senior having been robbed and heartlessly murdered in a most gruesome manner by  one or more young men with apparently nothing better to do


In the course of time from the 1950s –  when I was a boy –  to now, something sacred got lost somewhere, somehow. And we are so much worse off for it.


How fondly do I remember my great grandfather operating his little “parlour”  under the family house: selling ice, coals, “sweetie”, “tooloom”  and other  items next to his charmingly small relaxing and sleeping room.


At that time,  a large number of persons –  young and old –  would have visited “Mr Popo” by day and night,  dealing  with him in a caring, courteous manner that ensured he was safe and unharmed even as he  handled money alone, without his relatives upstairs being worried that harm could come to him.

Not so today. An older guy comes out to commiserate with a young man in a dispute over a female and he’s stabbed, bludgeoned or shot to death. There’s no room for civilized discussion with many of these euphemistically-described “at-risk” youths.



Yet there’s a sunny side to the story. I recall an incident a few years ago when a few young bandits entered a shop and included the robbing of patrons as part of  their mission.

As the bandits were rushing out,  one of them stopped and looked with puzzled eyes from  under his mask at an old guy standing forlorn and frightened in a corner.

“What de (so and so) goin’ on with you!”, the young robber shouted at his shivering potential grand-father who  said nothing. In the heavy silence, the bandit suddenly pulled a wad of his takings from a bag and  gruffly stuffed it into the old man’s pocket before racing out to meet his posse.

There was also the newspaper story about an old, solitary pensioner who was standing in his porch and looking out, only  to see an attractive young lady in a short skirt scurrying down his street and asking him to use his bathroom.



On eagerly  unlocking his gate to welcome  the damsel-in-distress, the lonely old man was thrown into a state of disarray by a  previously-secluded young man who rushed into his yard and robbed him of his valuables before fleeing with the femme fatale who had allowed herself to be used as beautiful bait in this ingenious robbery exercise.

In this case, at least, the old man was not harmed, but it could have easily turned to death if he had resisted – as has been reported in a number of other cases.

What I found of great interest in this incident however, was the newspaper photo taken of the old victim after the incident, where he was seen standing bare-back vacantly on his porch, staring  longingly  up the same  roadway – almost as if he were hoping his girl would come back.




That said, the wake-up call I received from Scobie enquiring about my own death, coupled with the flurry of attacks suffered by our vulnerable seniors at the hands of our children and grand children, should serve as a valuable lesson.

Namely, for the short time that you’re still here, how about simply celebrating  NOW as the last day of the rest of your life.

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