Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Dead Man's Legacy

I was sitting in my room yesterday, doing something on my laptop. Probably editing photos. I could hear my father in the kitchen. He had someone over from his office about installing a deep freezer in our kitchen. Shop talk. I wasn't really listening.

Then they started talking about something else. About someone else. Someone they knew from work who'd passed away recently. My father hadn't known that he had died. He had brought up the man's name, and the man in our kitchen had told him that he had passed away. "Ohhhh!" I'd heard my father say from the kitchen. That's when my ears had pricked up.

"He was such a good man," my father had said. "A very, very good man." The man in our kitchen agreed. I could almost hear him nodding his head in agreement. They talked about how good that man had been while he had been alive. Now he was gone. The slate had been wiped clean.

I don't know who they were talking about. It felt nice though to hear good things being said about a man they had only known in a limited professional setting. Sometimes just one interaction is enough. I want to be like that man. He was a success. He had lived, he had died, he had done his best quietly and without being fussy. People might forget him after 50 years, after a hundred years, I already don't know his name or even his face. We are born without an identity, and we think we form one by associating with others through family, employment, gender, country, religion. But maybe we are nameless even then. Maybe we earn our real names by how we act, maybe these names are given to us in other people's kitchens after we die.

I wonder what name will be given to me.

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