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Shalaka Pai
Urban Urchin

Shalaka Pai is a writer and a photographer.She doesn’t have Instagram (yet)and won’t spam your Facebook feed with badly watermarked photos

Dear Terry, thanks for the memories

Terry Pratchett.

Dear Terry,

I was first introduced to Discworld when I was in my early teens, and I just... didn't get it. I didn't get why it was funny, I didn't actually understand much of Sourcerer, and so I gave up. Discworld wasn't for me, I decided. Years passed. My sense of humour matured. I began to read cleverer, darker books. One day, nestled in the back of a second hand bookstore, I found Equal Rites, the third in the Discworld series. I could give Terry Pratchett another shot, I might like it, I thought.

I was hooked. I'd got a little taste of the world, of the delightfully quirky characters, and I needed to know more, to immerse myself in this strange world where everything made so much sense. Over the next few years, I filled a shelf at my parents' place with Discworld novels, beginning right at the beginning and making my way almost needily through half

the series.

Dear Terry, you made me love Death. Not death, Death. The cowled seven-foot-tall skeleton who TALKS LIKE THIS, with a voice like a thousand coffins slamming shut. The Death who thinks that cats are nice. The Death who tries so, so hard to understand what it's like to feel, to be human. I think it was Mort, in which Death takes a break from his job as the Reaper, trying so hard to forget. Trying so hard to understand the concept of fun. "Is this fun?" he asks, as he dances in a conga line at a debaucherous party. "We are having fun," he says, doing the two-step. Your Death was, without a doubt, my favourite entity. In him (it?), I found a representation of everything I often felt but could not articulate, looking out at the world around me while feeling so trapped in my brain, sitting in corners at parties while everyone danced drunkenly around me, wondering, wondering, "Are we having fun?"

Dear Terry, you gave me a whole new perspective on life, the universe and everything. You taught me an interesting theory about religion: a god only exists as long as he has believers and followers. You taught me that gods are flawed. You taught me that, well, pretty much everything is flawed. In your books I found parallel realities. I began to appreciate the joy of satire, of a well-written character, of clever puns. You, Sir, were a genius, and you believed in the magic of everything.

I learned once that you were always angry. In a piece written by Neil Gaiman, I learned that most people thought of you as a cheery old man, but you were fuelled by anger. I could relate to that. I could understand being angry about everything, all the time. I could relate to hating so much that it fuels you. And every few months, I'd buy another Discworld novel as an indulgence and disappear into it for a few hours, immersing myself in moving pictures, or the adventures of Rincewind, or music with rocks in it.

Then I learned you had Alzheimer's. Almost by chance, I watched Choosing To Die, where you explore the possibility of an assisted suicide. When it came to the point where you needed it, you said, you didn't possibly know what you would do. If I was prone to crying, I would have cried then, Terry. I could not imagine the thought of a world without you in it.

You taught me that, well, pretty much everything is flawed. In your books I found parallel realities. I began to appreciate the joy of satire, of a well-written character, of clever puns. You, Sir, were a genius, and you believed in the magic of everything.

Now you're gone, and I refuse to believe it. It hasn't quite sunk in that there will be no more Discworld. It has not quite sunk in that one of the most brilliant minds I have known of, a mind with a true spark of genius, has ceased to exist.

I'm trying really hard not to think about it.

THERE'S NO JUSTICE, your Death likes to say. THERE'S JUST ME. He's absolutely right. I know you're with him now, an entry in his book, an hourglass that no longer runs. I know you didn't resist him when he came, you went with him cheerily. I would rather not mourn for you, I would rather just continue to keep you in my heart and my bookshelf and be privileged to have been alive at a time when you existed.

Dear Terry Pratchett, thank you for everything.

 
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