Excerpt from The Blind Owl Nicole Scott Free Inquiry

I had many times reflected on the fact of death and the decomposition of the component parts of my body, so that this idea had ceased to frighten me. On the contrary, I genuinely longed to pass into oblivion and nonbeing. The only thing I feared was that the atoms of my body should later go to make up the bodies of the rabble-men. This thought was unbearable to me. There were times when I wished I could be endowed after death with large hands with long, sensitive fingers: I would carefully collect together all the atoms of my body and hold them tightly in my hands to prevent them, my property, from passing into the bodies of rabble-men.

Sometimes I imagined that the visions I saw were those which appeared to everyone who was at the point of death. All anxiety, awe, fear and will to live had subsided within me and my renunciation of the religious beliefs which had been inculcated into me in my childhood had given me an extraordinary inner tranquility. What comforted me was the prospect of oblivion after death. The thought of an afterlife frightened and fatigued me. I had never been able to adapt myself to the world in which I was now living. Of what use would another world be to me? I felt that this world had not been made for me but for a tribe of brazen, money-grubbing, blustering louts, sellers of conscience, hungry of eye and heart—for people, in fact, who had been created in its own likeness and who fawned and groveled before the mighty of earth and heaven as the hungry dog outside the butcher’s shop wagged his tail in the hope of receiving a fragment of offal. The thought of an afterlife frightened and fatigued me. No, I had no desire to see all these loathsome worlds peopled with repulsive faces. Was God such a parvenu that He insisted on my looking over His collection of worlds? I must speak as I think. If I had to go through another life, then I hoped that my mind and senses would be numb. In that event I could exist without effort and weariness. I would live my life in the shadow of the columns of some lingam temple. I would retire into some corner where the light of the sun would never strike my eyes and the words of men and the noise of life never grate upon my ears.

I retreated as deep as I could into the depths of my own being like an animal that hides itself in a cave in wintertime. I heard other people’s voices with my ears; my own I heard in my throat. The solitude that surrounded me was like the deep, dense night of eternity, that night of dense, clinging, contagious darkness which awaits the moment when it will descend upon silent cities full of dreams of lust and rancour. From the viewpoint of this throat with which I had identified myself I was nothing more than an insane abstract mathematical demonstration. The pressure which, in the act of procreation, holds together two people who are striving to escape from their solitude is the result of the same streak of madness which exists in every person, mingled with regret at the thought that he is slowly sliding towards the abyss of death….

Only death does not lie.

The presence of death annihilates all superstitions. We are the children of death and it is death that rescues us from the deceptions of life. In the midst of life he calls us and summons us to him. At an age when we have not yet learnt the language of men if at times we pause in our play it is that we may listen to the voice of death…. Throughout our life death is beckoning to us. Has it not happened to everyone suddenly, without reason, to be plunged into thought and to remain immersed so deeply in it as to lose consciousness of time and place and the working of his own mind? At such times one has to make an effort in order to perceive and recognise again the phenomenal world in which men live. One has been listening to the voice of death.

From The Blind Owl, by Sadeq Hedayat. Translated by D. P. Costello. New York: Grove Press, 2010. Pp. 115–117.

I had many times reflected on the fact of death and the decomposition of the component parts of my body, so that this idea had ceased to frighten me. On the contrary, I genuinely longed to pass into oblivion and nonbeing. The only thing I feared was that the atoms of my body should later …

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