The one with Even More

It’s interesting to listen to arguments other than those “kill-those-fuckers” arguments. Very interesting. Almost amusing.

Anand says, that in some sense, hostages are to be blamed for the number of deaths too. After all, if you know you’re going to die, why won’t you try and attack the attackers? He goes on to say, that if there are 20 hostages and 4 attackers, and if all started attacking and running in a chaos, maybe 5 might die, but 15 would be saved. So that should be the optimal strategy: but then everyone is a coward.

My obvious reply was that nobody wants to be among those five who die, to which he argued… “If I know I’m anyway going to die, I might as well attack them. Believe me, I would do it. I’m not afraid of death.”


I’ll now get back to being my selfish self, and forget the Mumbai massacres, and redirect your attention from CNN to my insignificant life.

“Everyone thinks of leaping off a building,” said Kay Eiffel in Stranger than Fiction. I can imagine it to be more true of people in the US: tall buildings, you see. More time to feel the wind in your hair.

A nice thing about not believing in an afterlife, is that whenever you imagine yourself dead … wait, you can’t imagine yourself dead. I have tried to explain this feeling by the following theory: that I’m the center of the universe, the very reason for the universe to exist. The moment I die, the universe ceases to exist. The universe never existed before I was born. History has been faked. All people, other than myself are brainless instruments that try to convince me of their intelligence. (Well, I know what you’re thinking. Maybe, you and me, are the only two living beings!) There is no other end of the planet, there are no people living there. The Something-Up-There doesn’t want to simulate the other-end of the planet, it’s a waste of resources. Television is the Something-Up-There trying to convince me that I’m just a small part of the universe. Fermat’s last theorem has never been proven: since I have never seen the proof, and I never will. It’s just a lot of stories to make you feel that life is worth living.

And so, often, when I think of leaping off a building—and continue imagining the process for long enough—I imagine that two feet above the ground, the laws of physics change to accommodate the fact that I can’t die. I really can’t die.

And so, I too am not afraid of death.

There’s a small catch.

Any doctor who knows me, can tell you I’m terrified of pain. The nurse who gave me my immunizations at the Student Health Services, can tell you I’m terrified of pain. The guy in school who enjoyed punching me in the stomach, can tell you I’m terrified of pain.

Tarantino ruined my life with the following line from Reservoir Dogs: “All you can do is pray for a quick death… which you ain’t gonna get.”

Tarantino further ruins my life with Kill Bill. A few weeks ago, while I was lying in bed waiting for sleep to hit me, and while my thoughts wandered to those nice happy places: I get reminded of Beatrix Kiddo lying down in her coffin, awake with a torch in her hand. And suddenly I sit up sweaty and breathless. Suddenly I realized that if somebody were to bury me alive in a coffin, I’d probably live for three or four days. There’s going to be no way that I could kill myself. I wouldn’t be able to move. I move my hand a bit, and then it will hit the coffin walls. There’ll be a panic. A frustration. Panic builds into more panic. And this will go on for four days. I’m no Beatrix Kiddo, I don’t have a hope of punching through coffin walls. Many years ago, after I had undergone a minor surgery, when I woke up later, a nurse was holding down my hand tightly. I knew it was a nurse, but somehow the fact that I couldn’t move my hand led into a panic. And she started to hold me down more tightly, and then lots of other nurses came and started holding me down even more tightly. Panic built. I was screaming. I couldn’t breathe. I struggled, I fought. It never seemed to stop. I knew they were just nurses holding me down, but I had to fucking move.

What if I sleep off in the coffin, and then wake up to find myself in this situation again?

If I had a gun pointed at my head, I would rather die than try to be a hero. Unless I have button to stop my life whenever I need to.

7 Responses to The one with Even More

  1. anshul says:

    “Do you know what the definition of a hero is? Someone who gets other people killed.”
    — Zoe, Serenity.

    About the worst thing you can do in a hostage crisis is make it worse by prematurely deciding that you will die and being heroic. Not being afraid to die is not cool. Fear of death is a crucial part of our survival mechanism which has evolved precisely to increase survival rates in such predator situations.

  2. arpith says:

    Which isn’t to say that in all conflict situations, the diffident prevail over the confident.

  3. anshul says:

    I am all for somebody studying the situation and doing the right thing…. I just can’t get my head around attacking and then running in chaos and assuming a 25% attrition rate on your side in such an activity…

  4. arnstein says:

    you guys are missing the whole point of this post. The whole point of this post was the getting-buried-alive paranoia!

  5. Harpreet says:

    If it makes you feel any better, you’ll probably only have enough oxygen for an hour or so. :)

  6. Arnie says:

    @Happy: Woo, really? You have no idea how relieved I am. But one hour seems too less. And what if, hypothetically, they decide to give me an oxygen supply too?

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