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“Przekrój” Magazine brings English-speaking readers some of the best journalism from across Central and Eastern Europe, in the fields of wellbeing, art, literature, science, ecology, philosophy, psychology, and more. Take a break from the speed and intensity of the daily news and join us!

In this edition of “Conversations from the Playground”, Ewa Pawlik talks to Lu and her friends about ...
2019-10-29 09:00:00

Death, or a Cannonball Jump
An Innocent Discussion About Death

Illustration by Tomek Kozłowski
Death, or a Cannonball Jump
Death, or a Cannonball Jump

Most of the (very) young panellists participating in this series of inter-generation discussions moderated by “Przekrój” define life as a continuum of self-supporting information. Yet controversy and differences in opinion appear when the conversation goes in the direction of death.

Read in 4 minutes

This is indeed a difficult topic, and we honestly admit that we weren’t sure how to tackle it. The solution was finally suggested by the panellists themselves, who proposed that we tackle and digest this existentially complex problem while tackling and digesting a margherita pizza – or, more precisely, two margherita pizzas.

The editorial office wishes to stress that the favourable response to the demand placed by the members of the panel was not and is not a form of bribery, nor does it constitute a violation of journalistic ethics. Yet to avoid the risk of disregarding the rules of the profession or crossing the boundaries of good taste, we refrained from ordering any extras.

We were seated in a dining room with adjoining kitchen, at an oval table. The pizza had just arrived. We had already enjoyed our first slice, but still hadn’t helped ourselves to a second.

Are you in the mood to talk about death?

Wanda: I think we’d rather yell “Poo Bum!” like we used to!

Wanda quoted an excerpt of the work by Stephanie Blake called “Poo Bum”, considered by our experts to be an iconic piece of literature. Quotes from the book (translated into Polish by Joanna Rzyska) are cited every time we meet. Stephanie Blake is practically the Paulo Coelho of the youngest generation!

Death is an important subject that affects each of us very closely sooner or later, so let’s please be serious about this.

Lu: I’d like to say something. Can I now?

Sets pizza aside, puts on a serious expression and states with the voice of an elder sage: Death is one big pizza.

Children: Hahahahahahaha!

Hania: You can say that differently!

Lu: Okay, in that case: Death hurts.

Children: Hahahahahahaha!

Hugon: Actually that works well!

What is death?

Lu: Death is when you’re run over by a car or somebody believes you’re off your rocker and kills you with a knife.

Has somebody close to you died?

Wanda: Granny died. She fell asleep and just didn’t wake up again.

Lu: Well, my grandma’s mum! She just fell asleep and died.

Hugon: Maybe she’s in a coma?

Wanda: And my grandma had two cats. There was Red and Shrimpy. Shrimpy was nicer and is still alive, but Red was unpleasant and died.

Hania: You can kill yourself if you want.

Hugon: That’s called suicide.

Lu: Because people are afraid that the police will catch them? So they kill themselves and that’s it?

Because mum got a Hawaiian pizza, but the child wanted a margherita pizza?

Hania: But I love Hawaiian pizza!

Wanda: So do I!

Lu: I love both margherita pizza and Hawaiian pizza!

Hugon: We’re not talking about pizza here. We’re talking about death.

What happens with the body when a person dies?

Lu: That person is all sweaty then.

Hania: Seriously?

Lu: Well, at least that’s how I imagine it to be. You die, you sweat, simple.

Is death good or bad?

Hania: Hard to say.

Lu: You know what, mum? Death is bad, because it comes straight from hell.

But I’m here professionally, dear, as a journalist.

Hugon: Professionally?

Well yes, because I’m working right now.

Wanda: Could I have some milk, please!

Hugon: Me too!

Hania: Me too please!

Lu: I’d like some too. Professionally, please!

Children: Hahahahahahaha!

And what would happen if there was no death?

Lu: Everybody would be doing cannonball jumps from the top of buildings.

Hania: Or jumping head first!

Hugon: People would throw themselves under trains and stab themselves with knives.

Wanda: People would go fishing and drown themselves.

Lu: And nothing!

What’s the worst thing about death?

Hugon: It’s nice that you turn into a ghost.

Wanda: But you miss people. I miss Granny. Because Granny died, but I don’t remember, because it was a long time ago.

Hania: I know! I remember! Granny was in bed, Daddy was holding her and she died.

Lu: Your dad has the hand of death!

Children: Hahahahahahaha!

Hugon: I don’t want to talk about death, because I’ll throw up. And Mum says that I don’t have to if I don’t want to. Or I’ll eat my pizza and die – and that’ll be it.

There’ll be a penalty if you die before you eat the pizza!

Children: Hahahahahahaha!

Hugon: There won’t be any penalty, because I’ll fly to the end of the world right away.

Lu: Yeesss! You’ll be flying through space and a black hole will suck you in and presto!­ No more soul!

Hugon: That’s not true! It’s different there! If I die, I’ll see Dad and it’ll be like a second for him. Time runs different for Dad. I don’t want to talk about it!

Lu: When I die, I’ll put on a sinister face!

Hania: And I’ll strike a pose!

Hugon: No, I’ll strike a pose, it was my idea!

Lu lies down on the floor and practices. She’s lying motionless with her eyes closed, and her hand is extended high up, making a ‘V’ sign.

Wanda: I’ll be all dressed up.

Hania: And I’ll have old clothes on, the really worn ones, it would be a waste otherwise.

Hugon: I want everything packed along with me, like the pharaohs did.

Lu: They put everything in their graves: gold, money, clothes, cosmetics.

Wanda: I want like the pharaohs too!

Hugon: Me too! And a diamond coffin.

Wanda: Did they put food there too?

Lu: Yes! Everything!

Hugon: So I want food too.

Lu: But food in a diamond coffin will go bad and it’s going to stink!

Hugon: No it won’t!

Lu: Yes it will!

Wanda: Like Poo Bum!

Lu: And I don’t feel like talking anymore. I’d prefer to die!

Children: Hahahahahahaha!

Hugon: So if we’re here professionally, I’m the boss. Let’s wrap this up, Auntie Ewa!

Illustration by Tomek Kozłowski
Illustration by Tomek Kozłowski


Translated by Mark Ordon

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