Before everything blanked out, the electric wave stormed inside my chest and I recall seeing that beautiful smile. After that it was whoosh and poof! In seconds it felt like my body was gone. There was no physical baggage. Yet I could feel the air sweeping against me and an inkling told me that my vision was intact and I feared it would soon be all black once I began seeing and I would be floating in a vacant but numbing stream. Curiosity got the better of me, my vision returned.
To my surprise it was all white, the pure bright thing that one gets to see in detergent ads. It was burning bright. “Will you not ask questions? Where am I? What is this place? What happened to me” a heavy voice echoed around the wall-less place. My shapeless form shrugged, wasn’t it obvious? I was dead and this was the pre-afterlife session one had. It was too clichéd to be anything else, I mean I was not Harry Potter that I was brought to this extremely clean 9 ¾ platform at King’s Cross Station nor was this the Story of the Egg explaining me that I was part of a universal soul.
“Nope, you are no Harry Potter, you could never face Voldemort and I did see you evolve from a tiny little egg dear” thank you for breaking it to me. My shapeless lips pouted. The voice was echoing around and now that I was contemplating I bet the owner of the voice would either dress up as Morgan Freeman or my personal favourite Al Pacino. “Look around you dear, you are alone” the voice echoed again, thanks for the Barney Stinson commentary I thought. “This is not King’s Cross Station either” now that I focused well, I was in a café, rather I could see outlines of it. This was the place where I spent half of my week, meeting people, breakfasting, sipping bitter coffee, munching on latest creation in sandwiches and doing my paperwork. I loved this place. “You won’t be visiting that place ever again” what kind of almighty was such a heartless geezer?
“Wow so you believe I exist” like I have an option, he can hear my thoughts well, though I am still sceptical. “Scepticism is good dear” and he dropped in front of my eyes out of nowhere. To my dismay he was neither Freeman nor Pacino. Even Judi Dench would have been great, but I was stuck with my old English Teacher, he left the earth peacefully. It won’t be a shocker if his hermit like soul became the face of, ummm…. God! “Good now that I have your attention, Ms. We don’t need introduction.” Wow he was a well informed god, he knew I preferred Ms. over Miss.
“It’s God and not god, well let’s leave details and focus on you” he did plan to teach me again. “Do you recall how you died?” now that he asks me, I try to recall; the images float in my fruit fly brain. I was sitting on the cushiony couch and waiting for the karak chai. When the smell of the tea hit my nostrils, I saw the beautiful smile I loved, then there was an electric jolt, my chest was in pain and that’s my The End. “A very comfortable death” I died and he saying it’s comfortable, there was no sympathy in his voice if not empathy. “Would you have preferred rotting in some refugee camp?” okay he made his point with that grave voice, my death was clean.
“Now that you are dead, many are bound to miss you, some will cry, others will miss you and someone is heartbroken” yes I figured that my parents must be wailing, thirty-eight was too early for me. My friends will miss me and yes I broke someone’s heart, left that one human alone to fight. “I wonder what their reactions would be like” the God cheered up I was not wondering, but the translucent television on the tracing paper café wall was blinking. In moments I could see what was happening.
My brother was crying silently and hugging my mother, my father like a typical scene from Hindi movies was slumped on the hospital bench. It was a point for fathers not to shed tears, I mean I died! Now he should cry! Indian mothers love howling, by looking at my parents who could guess I had not spoken to them for over a period of ten years. I can see my two best girlfriends trying to make sense of things. There is that someone who is ghost walking in faded jeans, floppers and a brown sweater. Even in remorse they were cute, it was the darker version of the same face, which tried to persuade me to rekindle with my parents. Here came the dramatic moment and the flimsy television focused on my dead face! Okay I was dead for sure, my face was pale and usually large open eyes were shut close. My someone took the empty seat beside the bed and stared at my dead face, the soft hands combing my equally dead hair. That’s when the climax happens, my maa is howling again, I bet she is cursing in our mother tongue, an unknown narrative to that someone, my mom must be furious that my long black mane was tempered with. She is cursing my floppers wearing lover, I am glad the television is mute. If my brother had not restrained my dearest mother she would have strangled my partner who is staring back blankly at my mum, a living ghost. Those once lively eyes were sad and dead now. It was one-woman battle again for her. I wanted to see on, look at her, but the television vanished. I was feeling so constricted despite being in a flowing form.
“Let me cut the suspense” the voice boomed and his hands were on his hips, that old face with salt and pepper beard was not helping kill the suspense. He was becoming more Almighty from almighty. “Glad you see me as one” here comes his sarcasm. “If you are wondering what happens next, let me tell you” then why hit around the bush or vanish the television. “Two days after you died, your mother blamed the cause of your death on your lover despite you having a heart attack” my mother had her reservations but this was extreme. “Oh no, the extreme has yet to come, your lover has been denied the admission to your funeral and debarred from performing the rites” that’s cruel like they did in the film A Single Man. “Yes the book had a similar situation, your brother tried to be the voice of reason but your father has given a silent support” these fathers I tell you, they never learn to fight back or help others fight. Both of them knew I loved her; my brother supported me in my choice of lifestyle.
“They know it too well, hence the blame befalls your lover easily thanks to relatives you had been rude to in the past, since you are going to hell anyway, she fits the bill” poor her, how was she copping with it. “Working and eating, barely living though, there was no particular reason on which she could ask for leave from work either, she was unable and denied to say goodbye after all and so you see there is no point in stopping her from working herself to exhaustion now” my non-existent chest was in pain again, it was burning like it would in hell, may be in hell we will meet again. “No, you won’t meet her in Hell” what was he talking about my thoughts shrieked. “The ticket to hell was earned by your own deeds, your girlfriend is sin-free” that’s a relief, but why was I going to hell.
“You are not going to hell because you killed over two thousand ants, four eighty-two cockroaches, two thirty-seven mosquitoes or dined on countless chickens, eggs and fishes” I thought animals had no soul according to Christianity and I am a Hindu, that makes sense why he bought my victims and eggs up in the conversation. “Who said I was representing petty cults like Christianity or Hinduism?” did he not correct me about the g in God. “Hell is a common factor to all religions Ms.” I did not believe in any of these cults until I died. “You still have the right to remain a non-believer” indeed he was a confused god who had no idea why he was sending me to Hell.
“I have a crystal clear reason on why I am sending you to hell” his statement was confident. I was going to hell not because I was in love with a person of same sex. “Love is worship; I can’t be God if I damn creatures to hell for loving the same gender” oops I hurt his codex of honour as he hissed up like a rattle snake. “I am sending you to Hell because, you committed suicide” he definitely was a high, a wandering soul who might have drifted from his own void afterlife to mine and was pretending to be God. “That’s the correct reason for your damnation Ms. Suicide!” I never even thought of suicide, there was miscommunication.
“No no…. There was no miscommunication Ms. Your thoughts may have been clean but your actions were worse” he was back to his teacher self and I a student who always gave wrong answers. “You are being damned to Hell for smoking” seriously, my thoughts yelled and his wrinkly face nodded. “For twenty-one years you considered yourself a living chimney, you smoked half of the day- in office, in your home, in this café as well, when your lover tried to help you out, you refused her help, you gave up every opportunity to end your vice” I was under pressure hence I took up smoking. “Oh yeah, studies, work and your activism for equal rights must have kept you really tied up” I nodded my floating head. “So did your lover, she was busy like you, were she not? She took up gardening to cure her stress problem. That rainbow lamb did her best to save you, look what have you done?” I turned into a grey sheep, I made her face the wrath of conservative parents, my friends will avoid her and her own friends are no good, soon society will turn against her, she will be left alone to fight for the cause. “Exactly” that was the correct answer, I deserved hell for smoking myself to death. “Good” I was collecting brownie points for the correct answers now.
“Your stay in hell will be for Three Eons” he was so causal in announcing my verdict like a shopping mall Santa giving away free caps. Three Eons, I could hardly grasp hundred years in my fruit fly brain and he was talking in ballistic terms. After three eons I doubt there will be a single thread left from my soul. “You have no idea the level of endurance a soul has” he was chirping and I had no wish to learn about my endurance level in hell. Was I Wolverine who could remain unhurt? Three Eons would pulverize my soul.
“Tell me Ms., do you want to fix few things up?” this god was definitely inspired by movies I watched in particular. “Of course I watch them, it’s a pleasure to see how people perceive me” a narcissist god on top of everything. Yes, I wanted to fix everything. “You can’t fix everything, but mend them I guess” he spoke slowly like an old scholarly owl. Yeah fine, I want to mend things up. “You see the entrance door to this café, you can decide what you want to do once you walk out of it, mend things up or spent three eons in hell or get reborn into any of the creatures you mercilessly reaped or have another human birth to equalize present sins with next birth’s virtue and Lady Karma shall do the calculation for you” I think he chuckled like a schoolboy who had a crush on strict Lady Karma, as he laid out the options for me. “I get to choose?” my voice echoed around the café for the first time. “Who do you think I am? Of course you get to choose, life is not a linear monochromatic stream Ms. And I am a Pro-choice entity” I was getting a second chance in other words, what about the war ravaged victims did they too get another chance. “For the puny soul you are, you have great questions, everybody gets choices, but it’s not a necessary their choices will be similar to yours Ms.” I sighed, he was giving me a choice despite me killing myself and not frying me in hell fire for loving a girl, but was giving me a chance to make her happy and reconnect with my parents again.
I felt my body-less self being pushed towards the door. “Whatever you do? Recall this the God never hates creatures who love and let others love” with that I was pushed out and the choices were laid out for me to grasp, and three Eons in hell was never even in consideration.