Prepare yourself

Amal Chatterjee
9 min readDec 20, 2021

Source : Google photo

Synopsis : Most people in this world live a mundane life and die of their old age but only a lucky few die in their sleep with a smile on their face because they had lived a full life fulfilling all their duties and obligations. They are called the true independent souls. The blog explains how anyone can prepare himself for the day so that he can live his life on his own terms until the last moment.

There was a cruel and fanatical Moghul king who ruled India in the 16th century. He was called Aurangzeb who had ascended the throne after killing his elder brother who was the crown prince and put his father the Emperor Shah Jahan in prison in the Fort of Agra.

Aurangzeb ruled over the Hindus whom he considered the unbelievers so he desecrated their places of worship and razed to the ground their holy temples all over the country. He then forced the Hindus to convert to Islam under the threat of execution so he is remembered as the most fanatic anti Hindu ruler who made many enemies by fighting the Hindu kings and killing them. This is how the Mughals expanded their territories.

In his old age, he became very thin and bent from his waist down but he still insisted to be carried in a palanquin to go to the battle field because his battles were never ending until he died leaving behind the widows and children of his enemies.

As he neared his death when he was near 90 years in age, he continued to knit skull caps that he sold to the faithful Moslems to earn a few pennies that he saved for his funeral. He did not take a penny from his treasury and wanted to die on his own terms so he ordered that he should be buried by the road side in a village near Aurangabad in a shallow grave, wrapped only in a white sheet of cotton cloth. He ordered that no monument shall ever be built on his grave so that his remains will always be under the sky.

Source : Google photo of Aurangzeb and his quotes

He regretted all the cruel and bad things he had done in his life and begged for the forgiveness of Allah and he died utterly alone and very lonely. All his wives and most of his off springs had died so there was no one to shed a tear on his death. We visited his grave near Aurangabad where his grave is still under the sky, just covered with a white sheet and a Tulsi plant.

Source : Google photo of the grave of Aurangzeb near Aurangabad, India

Tulsi is a holy plant for the Hindus so why a Tulsi plant was planted on his grave is still a mystery. Perhaps it was his way of making atonement for all his crimes against the hapless Hindus during his reign as king. The British later built a marble screen around his grave to protect it. He was after all an Emperor of India. His empire started to weaken after his death and at last fell apart after the British exiled the last Moghul king in 1857.

As a ruler, Aurangzeb in his old age prepared himself to be buried as he wished and left the money to do so that he earned by knitting skull caps.

He was an extreme example of how some people prepare themselves for their burial and last rites. He did not want grandiose mausoleum built using his treasury money so he was very different from his forefathers who ordered massive mausoleums built for them like TajMahal , Humayun’s mausoleum in Delhi and Akbar’s mausoleum in Sikandera near Agra.

Now I come to the present era of common people living under stress, financial difficulties and tremendous cost of medical care that people cannot afford so how do you expect them to prepare themselves for the end?

I have a good example here of a friend who lived in retirement in his old age doing some gardening and doing numerous charity works but he was very self-effacing and humble. I urged him to share the photos of his lovely vegetable garden so he did after some hesitation and sent me some beautiful post cards that he had designed. He was a graphic artist.

When he was told that he had a short time to live, he started to give away most of his prized possessions to every one’s surprise. He donated his extensive collection of cameras, lenses etc. to a nearby University and donated many such valuables to others while keeping to himself his medical issues. He paid to a funeral parlor for his cremation and asked them to spread his ashes under his favorite tree.

He did not ask anyone’s help and died knowing that he had lived his life on his own terms. Very people can do that because in their old age they become dependent on others to take care of them. They fail to prepare themselves for the day when they breathe their last.

In this country people leave behind huge hospital bills that their relatives have to pay somehow because the hospital Shylocks will not release the body unless they get fully paid. The longer it takes for the relatives to pay, the bigger the bill becomes.

When the body is finally handed over to the relatives for the last rites, the funeral parlor people show up to claim a lot of money for the preparation and burial of the deceased so again the relatives are hit by the large expense the second time driving them deeper into debt.

It is not unheard of that the close relatives have to sell their house or land to pay the bills because no one has so much money to pay for all the expenses. The insurance does not cover it all but only a small fraction.

This topic is a serious topic because I want to discuss here how anyone can prepare himself or herself for the day when the end comes because it does as sure as sunrise.

Now I am not talking about the rich or the super-rich who have all the means at their disposal to do whatever they wish. They do not have to knit skull caps to earn a few pennies like Aurangzeb although he was the Emperor of a huge country called India.

I am talking about the common people like you and me who are born, live a simple life and one day leave this world without leaving anything called their legacy. They are not great writers, scientists, engineers or award winning artists, singers or actors. A short time after their demise, no one really remembers them or feels their absence. Their photos and memorabilia collect dust in the attic.

Yet these simple folks once were living beings who lived an honest life, paid their taxes and helped those who needed their help. They were religious so they donated whatever they could afford to their temples, Gurudwaras or Churches. They brought up their children well and took good care of their spouse. They may have had musical talents but were humble and never showed their talent to anyone publicly.

I knew a great violinist who lived in our neighborhood whose talent was not recognized by anyone so he played his violin alone in his living room that the passerby’s could hear and wonder at the sweet melody. He took to the bottle that ended his life one day because of frustration and poverty.

The vast majority of people in the world fall into this category of common people like the violinist I just mentioned although not everyone takes to the bottle in frustration. Some become very religious and live a simple life.

A friend of mine who was a brilliant and very intelligent person had a very good job in an International Institute. He had a nice family and a small adorable child so everything was perfect for him and his family until one day he decided to quit his job and move to a Latin American country where there was a long running war and where the narco mafia ruled.

He was captured by the rebels and held hostage for many years until a huge ransom was paid for his release by his relatives. He moved to a small town in the US and found that his wife and children had left him so he was alone and sad. He too took to drinking heavily that eventually ended his life but he did write to me before he went. So what was his legacy and how he prepared for his end? I don’t know.

I greatly admire people who remain independent until their last breath .I don’t mean people like Aurangzeb who was cruel and did many bad things. I mean the common people like you and me who live a simple life, raise good children and prepare themselves for all eventualities so that no one needs to worry about them. Such people are born independent and remain independent until their last breath. They leave behind no debt and leave enough money for their spouse to live independently.

By their nature they are people without bad habits like drinking, gambling, smoking or borrowing money they never pay back. They are honest and live or try to live a clean life. They are also good savers.

So saving is the key word here. I believe that anyone who has a job or a business can save a part of what they earn for the retirement days. Some earn a small pension that may allow them to live a modest life. If you try to save even a small part of what you earn, it can accumulate over a long period of time to a surprising sum that comes in handy when you are old.

Another way is to downsize, sell your huge house and move into a small apartment or cottage somewhere to reduce the cost of living. The added revenue to your savings can help you live a simple but independent life somewhere. You will not need your big car, big house and large flat screen TV any more. A simple bicycle will do.

You will not need your expensive watch, fancy jewelries and fancy clothes so sell them to monetize. Believe me when I say that no one cares how you look, how you live your life and what you do. People are not interested in you unless you are Barack Obama.

So it is up to you to take care of your life until the end because no one is really responsible for you except you. But people will respect your independence and say that you lived your life on your own term without resorting to knitting skull caps to earn a few pennies.

Here is a quote that I find inspirational . ( Google )

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