A merchant in Baghdad sends his servant to the marketplace for provisions. Soon afterwards, the servant comes home white and trembling and tells him that in the marketplace, he was jostled by a woman, whom he recognized as Death, who made a threatening gesture. Borrowing the merchant’s horse, he flees at great speed to Samarra, where he believes Death will not find him.
The merchant then goes to the marketplace and finds Death, and asks why she made the threatening gesture to his servant. She replies, “That was not a threatening gesture, it was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Baghdad, for I have an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.”W. Somerset Maugham‘s retelling of an ancient Mesopotamian tale, which appears as an epigraph for the novel
There’s nowhere to hide from our own mortality, even though we try to avoid it. It’s scary to imagine dying, so we joke about it or ignore it.
The sooner we face up to the inevitability of the death the sooner we start to appreciate waking up every day and starting fresh.