Fifteen years ago on the death of Art Buchwald the famous humour columnist, my column replaced his in Dubai’s Khaleej Times. On reading more about the great man into whose shoes I had stepped in I found that the New York Times had interviewed Art Buchwald just before he passed away. The interview was called, "The Last Word" in which the interviewed person is allowed to express his own obituary. I watched with a smile as the grinning face of Art came on my screen and he shouted, "Hi! I just died!"

Even as I chuckled I decided to find out how other wits had left this world:

To the end Somerset Maughans' wit never altogether left him. "Dying," he remarked to his nephew Robin, "Is a very dull, dreary affair." Suddenly he smiled and added, "my advice to you is to have nothing whatsoever to do with it!"

Oscar Wilde's life in exile hadn't prepared the playwright for his last days in a Parisian hotel. The manager saw to it that he had the finest suite, the best champagne and the tastiest food. Calling the manager just before he breathed his last, Wilde whispered with a grateful tired smile, "I'm dying beyond my means!"

The irrepressible Irish author, Brendon Behan, was apparently in a coma when an attentive and caring nun bent over him to smooth his pillow. Brendon opened one dark mischievous eye and whispered into her ear, "Thank you sister, and may all your sons be bishops!"

Lyton Strachey, the English biographer and critic who wrote 'Eminent Victorians' and 'Queen Victoria' lay dying of stomach cancer and said gruffly to all around, "If this is dying, I don't think much of it!" 

When H.G Wells was on his deathbed, his friends and relatives couldn't believe the great man was going and stood around him, crying and making quite a loud commotion. The great writer finally turned his head to his grief-stricken visitors and whispered, "Can't you see I'm busy dying?"

What I like about all these great writers including Art Buchwald was that they were not afraid of what was going to happen to them and were prepared to go to the great beyond, even the great Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovski who killed himself wrote in his suicide note, quite tongue in check I must say, "I don't recommend this for others!"

These great men after contributing so much to the world with their ideas and thoughts finally died, and even if we've not had the time or inclination to have read their works, let us at least when our time comes face death with the same equanimity and courage, they all displayed..!

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