Wednesday, July 09, 2003

FEAR AND HOPE. The Bijani twins have died in surgery. Their story touches me deeply. They had been living what many of us would consider full lives, they were bright and educated, yet they risked death rather than go on as they had. They wanted more than safety could give them, and so forsook it. The Bijanis are separated now, and one wonders if, somewhere deep inside the anaesthetic haze, they were in any way aware of it before consciousness altogether fled.

I suppose one of the many useless ways in which we may divide the world would be between those who would have had the surgery and those who would not. I shouldn't wonder if the sides in that division were highly uneven. We all make our private decisions about what we will and won't put up with, but most of us are shocked to find, when the going gets tough, that the hard lines we drew have somehow moved a great distance toward the direction of survival. When we say "life is hard," what we usually mean is that what we have to go through in ourder to sustain life -- survival, in other words -- is hard.

The struggle to survive is noble, but at least as noble are those struggles which require that survival be not a factor. These may be called struggles to live. Most of us, in most ways, are defeated in these struggles, not just by fear but also by nobler emotions like love and loyalty and fellow-feeling -- these only wheedle us, whereas fear puts in the shoulder and shoves, but they can be at least as effective.

How much anguish do we find in these struggles! Yet I should think that, once the Bijanis came to their decision, their struggles became infinitely simpler. Probably fear was not erased, but certainly neither was hope. And it may be that they thought it was just not worth losing the former at the price of the latter.

May their shades be at rest, individually and together.

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