The Last Bar

*The painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable disease or irreversible coma


THERE is a saying in township parlance that when a person is afflicted with an incurable disease and have withered away as a result they are left with one bar or the last bar. This metaphorically relates to the battery gauge of a cell phone which when the battery is low either the animated battery appears skeletal of blinks rapidly often accompanied by an alert tone alerting the owner that the instrument needs a power recharge. It is general knowledge what will happen if one fails to charge the battery before it is completely depleted. You will be off the grid of communication.

*Euthanasia, I must confess that the first time I heard this word I thought it made a sophisticated sound and that its mere intonation itself heralded things of delightfulness. ‘Euthanasia’, I remember vividly to some extent that it was one of the topics chosen by those who reveled in the art of debate during one summer in the late 90s spent involved in a community initiative that was attached to Atteridgeville Community Library. The guy who came up with this pseudo delightful word was a scrawny fellow, bespectacled and as thin as they come – such fellows – whose noses dunk in books, are always preoccupied with searching for answers of the world that envelopes us. But on the light hearted side of the present fabrication mention must be made that the fellow in question was endowed with a particular sense of humor if not a rare charm that often suspended the fact that he was nerdy. His repertoire came full circle particularly when he was at the highest pitch of gesticulations of his preoccupations and before him, in a manner of speaking that is, the fairer sex was taking note.

one is never concerned with a particular topic if the effects of it do not prick one’s own interest towards the alleyway of curiosity.

The debating came and went. During its setting I added to the décor of our community hall several pastel drawings of jolly African masks from my oeuvre of free hand drawings. And that’s all I can remember from that day, there are flashes but I cannot go into their details for fear of twisting the details of the plot to a terrible squeeze. Anyway one is never concerned with a particular topic if the effects of it do not prick one’s own interest towards the alleyway of curiosity. But euthanasia wedged wormed its way into my woody brain and hung gingerly in one of the earlier dendrological rings only to be roused now when the seductive word takes center stage in our society.

Untimely death, when you are a toddler you never really nuzzle over it. You might realize that someone is not around anymore. You might be privilege to piece the puzzle together and, at the others’ insistence, conclude that that particular person is in a better place when you are told they are gone. When you look back at your teens and entry into adulthood the insistence of death upon your consciousness is remarkably undeniable. You lose hope that you are somehow related to the immortal katana wielding Connor Macleod of the clan of McLeod and that you can die. You accept the full spelling of death and its truest meaning. Fear sets in mostly. I am leading you in this dark territory because I too am haunted by the dark cloud of this nemesis itself, death that is. But somehow in the deepest bosom of the gloom of one’s demise lies a relief that at least, as much as fun will be foregone when you lay your arms down at your epitaph, much misery will be spared on your part as well. That you too will go to a better place.

But what if you can’t leave your dying body behind and that life’s unfair hand forces your unfortunate soul to witness your body dying bit by bit into a rot? You perhaps might delight in the fact that your lover will never leave your side having grown old together that is. But should the rot sets in while you are young? For the life of us it will be a blessing to be surrounded by people who will care for one until the final moment. May they be patient as we deteriorate, blur into a shadow of our former self.

I think for me having witness a few people suffering before they die I would rather have the option to die rather than bother the people around me with feeding me, changing my diapers and tolerating me. Besides I might not even be a palatable sight as I lie in bed shriveled during those excruciating last long drawn moments before I exit into – I am not even sure where. I would not even dream of putting my spouse or family through hell of seeing me weathering away into a dried leave. Something will be questioned, tested and killed within them. Love is to embrace and let go – that’s its full glory. When health deteriorates due to old age or incurable disease a soldier’s arms must be laid down to rest. And (a conjunction finds its place in this set piece) it would be to my benefit to have the option to order the doctor or my beloved to administer the final blow towards death.


We are not sure but it must be Spring


28 August

© mmutle arthur kgokong 2014