by Sadeq Hedayat
Translated from the Persian
by Farzin Yazdanfar

Persian painting

Persian painting

What a sensational and frightening word "death" is! Even mentioning it rends the heart, rubs smiles off of lips and cuts joy to the quick; it brings on dullness and depression and drives all kinds of troubled thoughts through the mind.

Hedayat's shadow

Life and death are inseparable. If not for life, there would be no death. Thus, there must be death in order for life to have meaning. Everything, whether the largest star in the sky or the smallest particle on the earth, will sooner or later die: stones, plants, animals -- they all come into existence and will successively be sent back to the world of inexistence. They will all turn into a handful of dust and fall into oblivion. However, the earth keeps spinning recklessly in the endless sky; nature resumes its life on the remains of the dead; the sun shines; the breeze blows; flowers fill the air with their fragrance; birds sing. All living creatures become excited. The sky smiles; the earth nourishes; the angel of death reaps the harvest of life with her old sickle... .

Death treats all living creatures equally and determines their fates impartially. It recognizes neither the rich nor the poor; neither the lowly nor the high. It puts human beings, plants and animals next to each other in their dark graves. It is only in the graveyard where executioners and the bloodthirsty stop acting tyrannically and innocents are not tortured. In the graveyard there is neither an oppressor nor an oppressed; young and old rest peacefully. What a peaceful and pleasant sleep! One will never see the next morning and will never hear the bluster and tumult of life. Death is the best haven, a refuge from pains, sorrows, sufferings and cruelties. With death the scintillant fire of lust and capriciousness goes out. All wars, disputes and killings among human beings end and their fierceness, conflicts and self-praise subside in the depth of cold dark soil and the narrow pass of grave.

If death did not exist, everyone would long for it. Cries of despair would rise up to the sky. Everyone would curse nature. How frightening and painful it would be if life were endless. When the hard and arduous test of life extinguishes the beguiling lights of youth, when the wellspring of kindness dries up, when coldness, darkness and ugliness befalls us, it is death which remedies the situation. It is death which puts our bent stature, our wrinkled faces and our afflicted bodies in their resting places.

Oh death, you lessen the sadness and sorrow of life and take its heavy burden off our shoulders. You put an end to the misery of wandering, ill-fated and unhappy men. You are the antidote for grief and despair. You make tearful eyes dry. You are like a compassionate mother who embraces and caresses her child and puts him to sleep after a stormy day. You are not like life - bitter and fierce. You do not drag man to aberration and depravity and throw him to a horrible whirlpool. You laugh at the meanness, lowness, selfishness, stinginess and greediness of human beings and hide their indecent acts. Who has not drunk your poisonous wine? Man has created a terrifying image of you. You, a glorious angel, are regarded as the raging Devil. Why are they afraid of you? Why do they double-cross you and accuse you? You are a shining light, but they take you for darkness. You are the auspicious angel of kindness, but they mourn loudly when you arrive. You are not the messenger of mourning and lamentation. You are a cure for sad hearts. You open the door of hope to the hopeless. You entertain the weary and helpless caravan of life and relieve them from the suffering of their journey. You are praiseworthy. You are everlasting...

Ghent, Belgium


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