I was staying at my friend’s apartment in Mumbai when Yuyin phoned:
Yuyin: Hi, is that Jyoti, may I speak to TS please?
Jyoti: Hi Yuyin, TS just passed away.
Jyoti: Yes, he was just passing from here to there, there to here…
Ok, so I was making fun of Indian English but the conversation reminded me of how we refer to death.
Often newspaper headlines will scream that somebody has died.
I remember being in a bus in 1973 and looking out I saw the local tabloid at a nearby mama stall screaming “Lee dies!” and I thought Lee Kuan Yew has died but the news was about Bruce Lee, the actor.
Newspapers aside, normally people avoid using the word “die.”
For example, we say “passed on” as in “My grandma has passed on” – passed on to where?
More frequently, we say “pass away” – “A great man has passed away” or “The passing of an icon” blah, blah, blah…
The more religious among us may say things like “He/she is now in the bosom of Abraham” or has “returned to the Lord” or has been “promoted to glory.”
Yeah right, promoted to glory indeed.
Hey, it’s ok to just say “So and so has died.”
I’m sure the person who has died wouldn’t care less.