The Bell Tolls

November 3, 2010 at 9:15 AMNov (Cinema, Literature, Musings, Poetry, Slice Of Life, Soliloquy)

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manner of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

Know not why, I re-visited the poem as I entered my cabin and sat comfortably on my chair. And co-incidentally I got a call from my dad saying my aunt (my dad’s elder brother’s wife) passed away this morning.

I was never attached to this aunt of mine who passed away but her death left me in silence for a while. As I recollected the days of my childhood when my aunt used to break open jackfruit and give it to me and she handing over a ring to me, when I had fractured my hand, which she believed will save me from the evil eyes, I could not help but go back to the poem again and read the concluding lines “For whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.”

The silence that captured me strengthened the beginning lines of the poem for me:
No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.

Yes, how interwoven all our lives are! My aunt meant nothing much to me. The relationship was a blood relationship and not of the heart. Yet her death left me in silence. ‘For whom the bell tolls’!!!

While I used to travel to Mangalore everyday from Manipal, on a daily basis I saw an accident. And every time there was an accident, which all the passengers in the bus viewed, every soul was moved. Everyone mourned for the death of the unkown, for everyone ‘was involved in mankind’.


Off late my aunt had lost her memory completely. When my uncle passed away, two years ago, she couldn’t recognize the body kept in the house as her husbands. She couldn’t recognize anyone there.

She had become an island due to loss of memory. She had forgotten about the world of which even she was a part.

In an environ where even air and light breathed mourning she, the wife of the man dead, remained untouched and unmoved by the agony of death and the vacuum it left behind.


You have to begin to lose your memory, if only in bits and pieces, to realize that memory is what makes our lives. Life without memory is no life at all…” – Luis Bunuel


I never remembered my aunt while she was alive… and now when the bell tolls… it tolls for me!

08 May 2008.

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