Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

Whenever I want to write a summary or my interpretation of a book; i get flooded with thoughts and distractions. That was the reason why I stopped writing a_book_a_week articles altogether. When the topic is a thought that makes me uncomfortable, death, in this case, i find myself at a complete lack of words. But I have written this so there’s still hope for me :)

I have seen death very few times. One of the most memorable ones is the death of my daadi. For years I even forgot how and where she died.

I remember coming home from school, to a group of grieving people and a white sheet covering her body in our verandah. My mom rushed to me with teary eyes telling me that daadi had passed away. My first instinct, was a smile. I even thanked god for finally taking her someplace else.

It was strange for me to find people crying for someone they didn’t know, at all. My parents knew her but they too were crying. And I asked myself why? Why are they sad when they themselves had decided to send daadi away to live with a nurse and agreed to keep her on pills that kept her stuck to a bed for almost a month before she gave up?

My daadi suffered from a rare form of mental sickness. The first 4 days of every week she would roam around as she wished; hung around with beggars and laborers and who not. She choose to beg for food rather than eating at home. She used to come home and throw abuses and tantrums at my parents, me and brother. For the first four days every week, she showed us pure hatred.

The next 3 days she would gradually go into a mourning phase where she apologized to everyone she met. During these 3 days she showed us redemption and love. The first 4 days she’ll call me a devil when I brought her food; the next 3 days she apologized for saying such things. We had seen this cycle repeat week after week for years and had no more feelings for her whatsoever. Only my dad had a soft spot for her. We only had a room for her in our home. None of her remaining family wanted to do anything with her.

So I couldn’t understand why all these people were suddenly crying. What is so terrible about someone else dying that makes everyone sad?

Isn’t death a natural course of life? To wither and to die? But, can there be any grace in getting old; coughing all the time; eating a sack of pills daily; not be able to walk; pissing and shitting in a bucket; having someone else wash your ass after taking a shit? If you don’t believe that there is any grace and beauty in the list I made then I want to ask you why not? Aren’t all of these phenomenons a symbol of life just like a mother giving birth to a child; a child pronouncing its first words; the touch of the gentle skin of a child; learning to walk; running as fast as one can? What’s really the difference between these two lists?

One list, is of symbols of a life taking its initial steps while the other one is of symbols of the last remaining times of a life. That’s the perspective this book tries to offer: Death is a reality of life; by learning to die, one can learn to live.

By learning to die, one can learn to live.

But while reading this book I asked myself — I am not dying, how can I even begin to understand the lesson of this book? So I came up with up analogy: Of falling sick and the helplessness that comes along with it. I can tell you for a fact that I am a terrible sick person. I hate to be sick and I hate to have people take care of me. I hate letting the world see that I am weak and helpless and that I need to be taken care of.

Ask yourself what kind of a sick person are you? If you are one who can embrace that being sick is natural and you are happy even while you are sick, you’ll be able to deal with death in a lot more graceful way than me. If you feel uncomfortable imagining it then you should pick up this book because there is a lot that a dying man has to teach you & me about how to live.