Where There Is A Will
Kabir Suman, the noted Bengali singer, composer and lyricist, is in the limelight, once again! This time, the reason is of a personal nature, as Suman recently displayed his Will on Facebook. In his Will, the singer has evinced interest for destruction of all his creations after his demise!
It seems that Suman’s reported Will and Testament have unveiled quite a few things for the Society. Ahead of his death on May 19, 1997, Indian film and stage actor, director, playwright and reciter Sombhu Mitra had prepared a similar Will in which he stated that his body should be cremated in secret by his family members in order to avoid Media and Government attention. The pioneer of Bengali Theatre had further mentioned in his Will that he did not want people to pay their last respect by placing bouquets on his dead body.
The Will and Testament of Kabir Suman, who has been known to the world by his name Suman Chattopadhyay, remind us of the final wishes of other famous personalities. Gene Roddenberry (August 19, 1921 – October 24, 1991), the Creator and Executive Producer of the popular science-fiction television series ‘Star Trek‘ (1966-69), wanted his body to be buried in space! As per his wish, some of Roddenberry’s ashes were flown into space, and returned to the Earth, on the Space Shuttle Columbia mission STS-52 in 1992. On April 21, 1997, a Celestis spacecraft, with 7gm of the cremated remains of Roddenberry and 23 other people, was launched into the Earth’s orbit aboard a Pegasus XL rocket. On May 20, 2002, the spacecraft’s orbit deteriorated and it disintegrated in Space.
American entertainer and comedian Jack Benny passed away on December 26, 1974 at the age of 80. He was famous for his comic timing in professional life. After his demise, his wife Mary Livingstone wrote: “Every day since Jack has gone the florist has delivered one long-stemmed red rose to my home.” She added: “I learned Jack actually had included a provision for the flowers in his Will. One red rose to be delivered to me every day for the rest of my life.”
Magician Harry Houdini (March 24, 1874 – October 31, 1926), too, had prepared a somewhat strange Will. Houdini’s feats helped define the basic repertoire of Escapology, including escapes from handcuffs, padlocks, straitjackets, mail bags, beer barrels, and prison cells. His famous stunt saw the American illusionist and stunt performer born in Hungary buried alive and only just able to claw himself to the surface! Houdini, a believer in afterlife, clearly mentioned in his Will that a planchette should be arranged every year on his death anniversary. The world-famous magician reportedly taught his wife the technique of that special planchette!
There has, obviously, been an attempt to make oneself immortal in some of these Wills. However, there were some celebrities who expressed their desire to destroy their creations after the death!
Portuguese aristocrat Luis Carlos – a childless bachelor – died at the age of 42 in 2007. Had he not made a Will 13 years before his death, the State would have claimed his assets. However, Carlos left his wealth to a group of complete strangers. He chose those strangers from a telephone directory! Even more confusing was the Will of the 19th Century German poet Christian Johann Heinrich Heine (December 13, 1797 – February 17, 1856). He had left his entire estate to his wife Crescence Eugénie Mirat on the condition that she would remarry! “Because then, there would be at least one man to regret my death,” Heine wrote in his Will. It was a symbolic emotional expression, as the poet talked about Mirat’s future husband in the Will. Just like his verses, the language of Heine’s Will was full of intense love, passion and sharp sarcasm!
William Shakespeare (April 26, 1564 – April 23, 1616) had left the bulk of his estate to his elder daughter, Susannah Hall, and GBP 300 to his younger daughter, Judith. However, the greatest writer in the English language and the Bard of Avon had given his wife, Anne Hathaway, his second-best bed!
French Philosopher Michel Foucault (October 15, 1926 – June 25, 1984) had clearly mentioned in his Will that he should be buried in full Catholic dignity. Interestingly, Foucault did not believe in religion and rejected all the contemporary human thoughts about the world! He further mentioned in his Will that his unpublished works should not be published after his death! Three volumes of his ‘History of Sexuality’ were published during his lifetime. Although Foucault penned the following volumes, they still remain unpublished, as per his wish!
Meanwhile, Kabir Suman has given a brief explanation of why he prepared such a Will in audio live on Facebook. The singer has informed his fans that he made the appeal because of the humiliations he faced in his life. At the same time, Suman has claimed that he is not disappointed at all! Maybe… In Catherine Pulsifer’s words, “It isn’t hard at all to make a wish. The difficultly lies in how to make what you wish for a reality.“
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