Ever since as a teenager I have romanticized the idea of an young and famous death. I am not suicidal. I think they suck who kill themselves. Someone once asked me what your advice would be to a person contemplating suicide and I said, “I’ll say – go to hell.”
Yet I always thought death was romantic. I fantasized young lovers who died for love because the world wouldn’t let them live and love. I fantasized even more the death of a lover whose love remained unrequited.
Every time my heart would break, every time some jerk would leave me all alone in the walk of life I would tell him in my imagination and I’ll tell myself, “Someday when I’ll be long gone, someday when you’ll be all alone feeling down and low, you’d know my worth and what you’ve lost. Someday you’ll miss me like crazy, you’ll weep till you have no tears left just to be able see me once but you won’t find me ever, never ever.
For death to be romantic it has to be young. There’s no point dying when you are old and worn out. When your charm is lost, your purpose on earth is lost, when you don’t even remember the people you wanted to cry for you and when there’s no way they’ll even ever look for you. You should be gone soon enough they left you so that by the time they look back they can’t find you any more. It’s like how sport stars should retire at the peak of their glory much before people start saying, “ah it’s high time the guy should retire already.”
And it has to be famous so that they know they lost you. So that even if they weren’t looking back for you when they’ll see you speeding away they’ll know you’ve left them far behind. Assuming you lost their numbers or they stopped taking your calls – imagine the shock they’ll get if they read on the papers that you were dead.
Jade Goody had that perfectly romantic death that I always fantasized for myself. The kind of stuff that eternal tales and urban legends are made of Jade had them in her life and in her death.
Few people knew about Jade until her entry as the villain in the reality TV show Big Brother. At least no body outside the British TV audience knew about her. Then came the big break in her life, she made a racial comment against Indian film star Shilpa Shetty. Like it happens in any story, the whole world loved the victim and hated the villain. Shilpa Shetty gained immense sympathy and went on to win the show ‘Big Brother’.
‘The winner takes it all’ we thought and switched off the TV to move on with our lives. Well, if it would have been an ordinary life the winner would have taken it all and the story would have ended there but Jade’s wasn’t an ordinary life.
Jade was to leave us all behind and win the race. She was going to die. And its not even like she was to die in a plane crash or get hit by a truck, she had the darkest of all premature deaths, the cancer. Cancer, one word says it all. The minute you say ‘cancer’ it creates an aura of pain, loss and sympathy.
Suddenly every body who ever hated the villain regretted every moment of their life spent in such hatred and wanted to now make it up by loving her as much as they could in whatever little time they were left with.
The entertainers sell us everything about themselves, from their childhood traumas to mid life crisis, their weddings to divorces, pregnancy to adoptions, from sex and drug stories to stories of true love and nirvana. Jade Goody sold us her death. Only this time it was for real. This was no publicity gimmick, no popularity stunt no sympathy seeking plot. Jade no longer needed any script or plan; she no longer needed to pretend to be anything because from being a ‘reality TV star’ her own life suddenly became a ‘reality show’. The cruelest of all reality the audience could ever see, an adventure as gripping as it could ever be, the most amazing race and the greatest survivor.
It takes an ocean of courage to be able to do what Jade did with her approaching death. Not only did she fearlessly look right into its eyes she also embraced it with open arms. She personified what John Donne wrote years ago, “death be not proud…thou shall die [too].”
While I am confident her contribution towards spreading awareness about cervical cancer or the money she left behind for her kids are invaluable I would personally remember her as someone who taught me what it really means to live before you die, how it doesn’t matter how long you live but how much you live.
From the day the news about her cancer broke she has gained immense popularity. Today almost every random channel surfer all over the world in this age of global infotainment knows about Jade Goody’s story. An ordinary person became a world figure because she decided to not die a silent death. She made the most of the life she had, she made the most of the death she was going to have.
What would have happened if she had a longer healthier life? Perhaps she would have lived a happy life with husband and kids. May be she would have made it big as a star and would have been rich and famous. Or perhaps her new husband would have been old and boring one day. There would have been divorce and litigation over child custody. The children would have grown out of a broken marriage and taken to drugs.
Either way would it have been any bigger than what her life is today?
Rest in Peace, Jade. We will miss you. You are the winner who took it all.
Crossposed on Desicrtics. Do check out the comments thread there, the mothers of the world are pissed at this obituary. It’s just an obituary for christ sake, people really got too much of free time. Of course I don’t give a fuck.