In the very first attack of death upon my grandfather, he lost his speech. For twenty-four hours we waited in that village for something to happen. However, there was no improvement. I remember a struggle on his part in an attempt to say something, but he could not speak. He wanted to tell something, but could not tell it. Therefore, we had to take him toward the town in a bullock cart. Slowly, one after the other, his senses were giving way. He did not die all at once, but slowly and painfully. First his speech stopped, then his hearing. Then he closed his eyes as well. In the bullock cart, I was watching everything closely, and there was a long distance of thirty-two miles to travel.
Whatsoever was happening seemed beyond my understanding then. This was the first death witnessed by me, and I did not even understand that he was dying. But slowly all his senses were giving way and he became unconscious. While we were still near the town, he was already half dead. His breathing still continued, but everything else was lost. After that he did not resume consciousness, but for three days he continued breathing. He died unconsciously.
This slow losing of his senses and his final dying became very deeply engraved in my memory. It was he with whom I had my deepest relationship. For me, he was the only love object, and because of his death, perhaps, I have not been able to feel attached to anyone else so much. Since then, I have been alone.
The facticity of aloneness took hold of me from the age of seven years on. Aloneness became my nature. His death freed me forever from all relationships. His death became for me the death of all attachments. Thereafter, I could not establish a bond of relationship with anyone. Whenever my relationship with anyone would begin to become intimate, that death stared at me. Therefore with whomsoever I experienced some attachment, I felt that if not today, tomorrow that person could also die.
Once a person becomes clearly aware of the certainty of death, then the possibility of attachment is lessened in the same proportion. In other words, our attachments are based on the forgetfulness of the fact of death. With whomsoever we love, we continue to believe that death is not unavoidable. That is why we speak of love as immortal. It is our tendency to believe that whomsoever we love will not die.
But for me love invariably became associated with death. This meant that I was not able to love without being aware of death. There can be friendship, there can be compassion, but no infatuation over anything could catch me. Very deeply did death touch me – and so intensely that the more I thought of it, the more and more clear did it become to me each day.
Thus, the madness of life did not affect me. Death stared at me before the thrust into life began. This event can be considered as the first which left a deep impact and influence on my mind. From that day onwards, every day, every moment, the awareness of life invariably became associated with the awareness of death. From then onwards, to be or not to be had the same value for me. At that tender age, loneliness seized me.
Sooner or later in life – in old age – loneliness seizes everyone. But it seized me before I knew what company meant. I may live with everyone, but whether I am in a crowd or a society, with a friend or an intimate, I am still alone. Nothing touches me; I remain untouched.