Many a time, I am drawn to the story “ How Much Land Does a Man Need? ” by Leo Tolstoy , in which , the protagonist, Pahom under promise of getting ownership of as much land as he can cover by walking on a single day , i.e. from dawn to dusk is taken so much by greed that he drops dead at the end of the day having been exhausted due to walking /running over a long distance . The story ends with the line , “ His servant picked up the spade and dug a grave long enough for Pahom to lie in, and buried him in it. Six feet from his head to his heels was all he needed.” Here is a lesson which no one wants to learn and people are busy amassing as much as they can. Ataullah Khan , the well known singer from across the border, begins one of his songs with the words:
“………….ban than kar aaye woh hamari kabr par,
or kahne lage muskura kar,
chalo iski kuch toh tarakki hui,
ek beghar ne achha sa ghar le hi liya,…….”
The lament of Bahadur Shah Zafar , the last Mughal Emperor of India , who was deported by the British rulers to Burma , died there and was buried in Yangon:
“ kitna hai bad-naseeb zafar dafn ke liye
do gaz zamīn bhī na mili ku-e-yaar mein ”
needs no further explanation.
These are three instances in which despite the pathos and the inherent irony, the persons had at least got a place to “ rest in peace”. However even this much luck is likely to elude many people in the not very distant future if the contents of a news item “ ” appearing in the Times of India a few days back are to be believed. The news item points to the necessity of advance booking for graves in the National capital to guarantee a dignified burial – the price mercifully a few thousand Rupees at present.