I was on a flight from Delhi when i read the Hindustan Times and its editorial page. This piece was interesting enough for me to do a cut and paste job. So am keying this in. Courtesy, HT.
“The dead usualy throw up more interesting points for debate than the living. Take the ongoing quible about whether Mahatma Gandhi’s dying words uttered after being shot by Nathuram Godse were ‘Ram, Ram’ – as recorder by the FIR registered after the assassination or ‘Hey Ram’ as made iconic and cast in stone at Rajghat.
It is a fact that sometimes, a public figure’s last words are tweaked or cooked up to fit the popular image of the person. It would have been rather banal, for insance, if Bapu had uttered a single ‘Oh!” or no word at all when he died. But that would have hardly satisfied us.
Can you imagine Humphrey Bogart not having said, “I should have never switched from scotch to martinis,” on his deathbed ? Or the ironic, Byronic last lines of Lord Buron not being, “Now i shall go to sleep. Goodnight”?
There have been official disappointments though. Winston Churchill was expected to make a herioc ‘blood, sweat and tears’ kind of last speech before going into a coma that would find him resting Adolf Hitler nine days later. But Churchill said, “I am bored with it all,” a punk credo that would have suited Sex Pistols’ Sid Vicious much better.
Some dying lines are downright boring. Charles Darwin should have come up with something more evolutionary instead of teh slightly maudlin: “I am not the least afraid to die.” Far better – dying up to expectations – was Oscar Wilde: “Either that wallpaper goes, or i do”
Considering that not too many people are always taking notes and cross checking even when a famous person posps it, its rather remarkable thatt we have so many last lines to savour. As for Gandhiji, we are puttin gour bets on ‘hey Ram’. Why change something that works?”