Appointment in Samara


We are wont to say, following the death of a loved one, or even an enemy, that they died too soon or if it resulted from an accident that maybe, had they been somewhere else, they wouldn’t have died. While this maybe comforting, Aurelius, the Roman statesman dissuaded us from this kind of thinking when he said we must see our lives as part of a play, each person with their acts before they take their bow.

In appointment in Samara (as retold by Somerset M), the speaker, Death, dissuades us from thinking if we acted differently, we probably wouldn’t have died.

The story is here below

There was a merchant in Baghdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said, Master, just now when I was in the marketplace I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and when I turned I saw it was Death that jostled me.  She looked at me and made a threatening gesture,  now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate.  I will go to Samara and there Death will not find me.  The merchant lent him his horse, and the servant mounted it, and he dug his spurs in its flanks and as fast as the horse could gallop he went.  Then the merchant went down to the marketplace and he saw me standing in the crowd and he came to me and said, Why did you make a threatening gesture to my servant when you saw him this morning?  That was not a threatening gesture, I said, it was only a start of surprise.  I was astonished to see him in Baghdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samara.

For those studiously inclined, there is a study guide.

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About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

19 thoughts on “Appointment in Samara

  1. Swarn Gill says:

    This is sort of the plot to the movie Final Destination, which was rather well done, though the sequels sucked. 6 teens avoid death in a plane crash by one of the teens having a premonition of what is to come. But Death continue to come for them. 🙂

    I agree with Aurelius. Interestingly there are quite a few Star Trek: TNG episodes that deal with this sort of thing too…when they get wind of what the future they always get into the trap of second guessing their decisions…the truth is you don’t know completely what decisions will lead you to a future fate…athough I guess it’s true that certain behaviors or actions increase the odds one way or another…when it comes to accidental deaths, you just can’t predict it.

    As a meteorologist though, I will say that the ability to predict weather phenomena does save lives, but there is a difference in being able to predict something that is governed by physical laws, and that which is governed by the random intersection of human events.

    Liked by 4 people

    • makagutu says:

      You make a very valid point about weather prediction and saving lives. Maybe it is one of these that Death was not ready for the victims.
      A point has been made about increasing the odds by going into some situations. Can we not make the counterargument that we actually go into such situations because that’s where death is waiting to meet us?

      Liked by 4 people

      • Swarn Gill says:

        I think there a certain spirit in humans that we take risks even when death has a high probability, or maybe because of it. We have this thrill seeking side, and if there is no risk, there is no joy afterwards in overcoming the odds. We are also very bad at determining the odds…so perhaps that’s why we take risks. lol

        Liked by 2 people

        • Nan says:

          IMO, that risk-taking you talk about is more prevalent in men than women. This isn’t to say that women don’t take chances, but I think men are more inclined to do so.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Swarn Gill says:

            I definitely think there is some evidence to that, but I wonder how much is biological and how much is societal. Women are certainly punished disproportionately in our society for risk taking. In addition, until recently certain opportunities for risk weren’t even available to women.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Nan says:

            I would lean biological. This isn’t to say society doesn’t play somewhat of a role, but when it’s a death-defying action, I still think men are the predominant risk-takers.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Swarn Gill says:

            Since women are predominantly killed by men, just walking down the street or being forced to marry the wrong guy can get you killed. It seems to me that women take risks every day… Just not the fun kind. Perhaps risks that can get you killed can fall into different categories.

            Liked by 1 person

          • makagutu says:

            Maybe we are irrational, who knows?

            Like

          • Swarn Gill says:

            I would say that a certain element of risk taking difference between males and females, would make sense biologically. A woman can only be pregnant for so often, so less women than men in a group of humans has a lower chance of survival, than having a female surplus. It seems from a species survival standpoint, men would have more freedom to take risks.

            Liked by 2 people

          • makagutu says:

            Men are more inclined to take stupid risks. You should see how they drive around here

            Liked by 1 person

        • makagutu says:

          I think this is the crux of the matter. We don’t know the odds so our actions are sometimes way off

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Tish Farrell says:

    It’s a great yarn, Mak. Thank you for posting it.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Excellent! My kinda writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. jim- says:

    I hope my appointment with death is swift and clean, not involving nursing homes and bed pans or brain damage.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Eric Alagan says:

    Death to this world is inevitable – this much is a fact. Everything else – we too must the journey make to know the truth.

    Peace,
    Eric

    Like

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