When does killing become wrong? When does it stop being justifiable and start being an outright sin? Killing a mosquito is a relief. Killing a housefly is a little gratifying. Killing a moth is messy. Killing a butterfly feels a little wrong. Killing a mouse is a necessity. Killing a rabbit is rebellious because it’s defying the society’s hypocrisy that says killing a tiny mosquito is acceptable but killing a fluffy rabbit isn’t. Killing a cow is tasty. Killing an enemy in war is honourable. Killing a terminal patient who is begging for it is mercy. Killing someone who is trying to kill you is self defence. Killing someone who is trying to kill someone else is heroic. Killing someone with an electric chair is justice. Killing a lot of people at once for some cause is fanaticism. So how different is killing for no reason from all the above cases?
And speaking of killers, how exactly does the monstrosity varies with the number of killings? They say you’ll get the same punishment for killing nine people or ten. Then why are single homicides and double homicides so different? Why is the death of the second guy so worse than that of the tenth guy? More than the reason, it’s the mathematics of death that amuses me. I don’t care for reasons. If anything, I approve those who kill for no reason than those who do that for some distorted purpose that gives it a pointless justification. Taking someone’s life is as significant and as natural as giving birth to someone. If you don’t particularly appreciate or reward one for populating this planet, why punish him for striking off a few from the list?
Death has always fascinated me. Even now, living an undead life amidst hundreds of corpses and spirits, I still have unanswered questions about death. I used to actively participate in the process earlier, but now I prefer to be an outside observer these days. Like an eager student, I watch people die. The fact that it occurs at every corner of earth every moment doesn’t make it any less monumental. One moment a person is breathing, the next he isn’t. It’s literally breathtaking. At times to feed that hungry voyeur in me, I delve into the world of the living. Hospitals are one of my favourite hangout spots. Murder is a more exciting way to go than by a disease or old age and hospitals rarely offer the opportunity to witness the former. Except for one hospital. Because of one exceptionally talented doctor.
It was a month ago when I saw her for the first time. I’m drawn to places where something sinister has happened or going to happen. Maybe it’s an acquired gift after living in a grave for years. I was wandering through the corridors of a hospital and I walked into a closed room. There were only two people there and one of them was lying in the bed. It was dark and my clothes were all black. I moved towards the chair in the corner unseen and sat there to watch the amazing thing that’s going to happen. I could just feel the excitement in the air. The one in the bed was very young, barely twenty years old. Even though I couldn’t see I could sense the life radiating from the bed. And standing next to her was a woman. Wearing a white coat and a stethoscope around her neck. A doctor! She bent down slightly and made sure the other one was fast asleep. Then she took out a syringe from the pocket of her coat and plunged it into the I-V bag hanging next to the bed. It hardly took a minute. The person lying in the bed didn’t move at all. And never will.
The doctor straightened up and looked at the door. It wasn’t fear or nervousness on her face. If anything, it was anticipation. As if she is waiting for someone to walk in. She stood there like a stone for many seconds. Without flinching her eyes. Without even breathing. Then her shoulders drooped. And she walked out of the room. Carelessly. Her muffled footsteps echoed her disappointment somehow. She closed the door behind her, leaving me alone in the room with a fresh corpse to process what just happened. She was a killer, that’s for sure. This wasn’t her first time. She knew what she was doing and there was no hesitation or second thoughts in her movements. A doctor devoted to taking lives. Though it may sound a little ironic, it’s hardly surprising. It’s understandable, even. The power to choose who gets to live and who should die is exhilarating. The power to play God. Isn’t that what we all want in life? It would only be surprising if a doctor was never tempted to set free the soul of the one lying in front of him. But what baffled me was her reaction afterwards. It didn’t look like she derived any pleasure from her deed. She seemed indifferent to the amazing event that’s happening through her hands. All her concentration was on something that will happen next. But it never happened. And I knew she will do it again. She’s an addict.
Over the next few weeks I made it almost a daily routine to follow her. And it was rewarding. The more I learnt about her, the more fascinated I became about her. I learnt her name from the nameplate on her door. Dr. Alisha. A fittingly beautiful name. She is what a mortal man would call very attractive. Who am I kidding, even I was attracted to her. Her long black hair reached her waist like a beautiful river that flows through her magnificent curves. Her big moist eyes had a tiny fleck of green in them. But it was her lips that stole all the attention. Painted blood red, they stood out in her otherwise sweet and enchanting round face. I’ve seen men swoon when her thin lips curled upwards. Her luscious bosom could bring life to even the most dead loins. And the long legs she never bothered much to conceal were as fine as a talented sculptor would imagine. No matter how many people she was surrounded by, she was always the centre of life. Always engaging and attentive, I had never seen her being rude or even dismissive. And they all absolutely adored her. But it takes an eye hardened with time to see through her façade. She was in pain. She crumbled down when she thought no one was looking. She seemed incomplete. And desperate. In the constant search for something. Or someone.
I had seen her kill thrice since the first time I saw her. There was no method to her madness. She smothered a 70 year old man with a pillow. She killed a pregnant woman by inducing a heart attack. She slashed the throat of a homeless boy who came to her home asking for some food. All examples of how a crime should be carried out intelligently. The only thing common to all these murders was how cold and unflinching she was when she did it. And the brief period of waiting for that someone. Followed by the heartwrenching disappointment. Whatever it was she is waiting for, it never came. And she was determined to not stop till it arrived.
I saw her kill again. This time by administering a lethal dose of morphine to a girl with terminal cancer. I couldn’t handle my curiosity anymore. I had to talk to her. She walked into her office and I followed her. I opened the door to find her sitting on her table. She looked at me with a pleasant eager to help kind of smile.
“Yes? Can I help you?”
“I saw you with Daisy. The cancer patient?”
The radiance of her face didn’t fall even by a drop. “Oh. Are you a relative? The visiting hours are-“
“I know what you did.” I said flatly and walked into the office.
“What do you mean?” Finally her saintly smile disappeared.
“I’ve been watching you for some time now. I’ve seen a lot. That old man. The pregnant lady. That boy at your home. I have to say you’re good.”
A short chuckle escaped her mouth. Isn’t this woman something?
“Will you please close that door? I think we wouldn’t want anyone else to hear this conversation.” She said.
I went to the door and closed it. When I turned back she was standing right in front of me, with a scalpel in her hand. Not that surprising.
“You shouldn’t have seen that.” She raised her hand towards my neck in a swift motion. A smirk that didn’t quite belong on her angelic face.
I felt the cold metal sink into my neck and carve a gash as long as my jawline. “I don’t think this will work.” This time it was me who smirked.
She took a step back and stared at me. The smugness on her face gradually giving way to confusion. No blood came out of the cut on my neck. Just a long dry gash.
“I told you.” I laughed. “Death is not an option for me.”
The nervous confusion on her face turned into excitement. “So you are him? You came at last!”
She almost leapt at me. Her arms wrapped around me tightly. I didn’t resist. No man in my position could.
She lifted her face and looked at me. “You look different”, she said. Her face filled with absolute admiration.
“Who do you think I am?” I asked at last.
“Death. The devil. The grim reaper. I am not sure what you’re called.” She hugged me even more tightly. “What should I call you?”
I don’t remember the last time I was held like that. Probably never.
“You are mistaken. I am not him.” I grasped her shoulders and pushed myself away from her.
“Then.. then who are you?” She took a few steps backwards, staring at my face intently. I could see her heart breaking on her face.
“I’m his friend. Of sorts. You can call me Sam.”
She walked back towards her chair. Dejected and broken.
“His friend eh? So he might come if I kill you? If I could, that is.”
“Yeah, I guess. Why do you want to meet him so badly?”
“Because I am in love with him! Is it that too hard to see?”
I sat on the chair in front of her. I didn’t say anything. I waited for her to continue on her own.
“You’re his friend. You should know. How absolutely beautiful he is. How his voice booms with the crushing weight of a collapsing star. How his magnificent dark eyes hold all the unexplained mysteries of this sad world. How can anyone not fall for him?”
My eyebrows raised on their own hearing her description. “Yes, I suppose so. When did you meet him?”
“Many years ago. When I was in college. During that time I was erm… lost. I was wandering through my life with no purpose. Partying like a foolish child who didn’t know anything better. I was addicted to many things back then. And one night I ODed. I was lying there on my couch, alone and cold, with a needle stuck on my forearm. And he came to fetch me. I feel so ashamed to think that is how I looked when he saw me. He extended his hand for me and called out my name. Alisha. I never realised how beautiful my name is till I heard him say it in his dark seductive voice. And I didn’t even move. I was lost in his spell. I just stared at the hand he held out for me, like a fool. Then he smiled understandingly. But I could see his disappointment when he gracefully walked away from me. He wanted me to come with him. But I didn’t go. That’s the biggest regret of my life. Ever since then my life’s only purpose is to meet him. I cleaned up and took this profession seriously. Only to cause as many deaths as I can. To see him once more. To spend a little time with him. I know I can’t expect him to be with me forever. I am not worthy of that. But why won’t he come to see me even once? He won’t even acknowledge my eternal love for him. I have tried everything. Studied every ritual there is. Every chant and every kind of sacrifice. Now this is the only hope I’ve left. To carry out his work and hope that I’ll get to see him when he comes to fetch a freed soul.”
She was on the verge of tears. I didn’t know what to feel. Sympathy? Pity? Contempt?
“But Alisha, you know that there’s another possibility too, right? Maybe you saw someone else. A friend or someone.”
“Do you think I’m a fool?” Her face warped into a sneer, her blood-red lips curled, revealing bone-white teeth. “I know that it’s him! The door was locked from the inside. It couldn’t have been anyone else. I just want to know how to see him again!”
“Well, he came for you once. Maybe he will come for you again.” I said.
“Yeah I have thought about it too. But that’s a huge gamble, isn’t it? What if he doesn’t show up? I will die in vain.” For the first time I noticed a quality I never heard in her voice before. Hesitation.
“You don’t understand. He is visible only to those for whom he is coming for. You didn’t figure that out yet?”
“I never thought about that.” She said in a whisper. Her face lowered down, hung in shame, maybe? I doubt that.
“You should.” I slowly stood up from the chair. “I have to go now. Hopefully we will meet again.” I turned around and walked towards the door.
“Are you sure, about what you said?” She asked, again in a whisper.
With one hand on the doorknob, I looked behind. She is concentrating hard on her redwood table. “I am sure. Because I know. After all, I’m his friend.”
I closed the door behind me and walked out of the hospital, tracing the cut on my throat with my finger. I think this is going to scar.
There are lot of reasons to kill. Most of them are considered as crimes of passion. For lost or unrequited love. But love for death, this has to be new. I lied. Death doesn’t come as a human to welcome his new victim. The grim reaper exists only in stories. Or maybe death can take a human form at times. Who am I to say otherwise?
But why did I lie?
I just wanted to see the bitch kill herself.
I saw an old man today. It’s not that unlikely to see an alive person in a cemetery, I know. But it is quite rare here. This is a rundown cemetery. No one has been buried here in the last decade. The only visitors we get here are the occasional youngsters, doing a dare or something. Trying to prove their courage to their friends. Though it’s unpleasant, I try not to mind them. They are naïve. Unaware of the real horrors they are going to face later. Let them play for now. A few of them are vandals. They think disturbing the dead is funny. Or maybe they think there’s no existence beyond death. I make sure that they don’t visit here again. You have to leave the cemetery to visit it again, don’t you?
I was sitting near Jack’s grave when I saw this man lumbering down the narrow trail leading to the back of the cemetery. I don’t care for human company. I’d rather have Jack’s company than talk to a human who thinks he has everything figured out in his sixty or seventy years of existence. But this man caught my attention. He had a face that didn’t belong in a graveyard. Though there was a tinge of sadness, his face was mostly curious and puzzled. His hair was all white. His face was wrinkled. He walked slowly, an exhaustion of a long lifetime evident in his stroll. It was obvious that he was struggling to keep his shoulders from drooping. A proud man. I like it. But what caught my eye really was that he was wearing a hospital gown. Clearly, he ran away from a hospital. But to a cemetery? Irony can still make me smile, even after death.
I followed him. He was unaware of me, though it didn’t take any effort from my side. Finally he stopped near a grave. Maria’s grave. All I know about her is that her death happened four decades ago. Her spirit isn’t here anymore. I’ve never met her. Her gravestone says “Maria Gonsalves 1935 – 1957”. A simple gravestone with very few words. This is the first time anyone has ever visited her. He stood there for a minute looking at those words. He looked overwhelmed by a sudden rush of memories. I don’t find anything sad about death but I can understand the sadness it causes to the living. When someone leaves you without giving any explanation, to somewhere you have no idea about. It’s painful.
He sat near the stone with a grunt. He ran his fingers over the old deteriorating stone affectionately. I walked towards him. He didn’t hear me coming till I was standing right in front of him. I was curious how he will react when he sees me. I don’t look exactly human. Or humane. He looked up towards me. He squinted his eyes, taking time to focus his sight. Then he acknowledged me with a nod and a lopsided smile and his eyes returned to the stone. He didn’t notice anything different about me. Even if he did he didn’t let it show on his face at all. Or maybe he didn’t care at all. That’s the thing about old age. The older you get, the lesser you care about stuff. There’s nothing left in your priority list anymore.
“Mourning somebody’s death?” He asked me, almost in whisper.
“Yes” I said, kind of. I sat at the other side of the stone. I didn’t want to look at his face either.
“There is no point, you know. In mourning the dead.”
Here it comes. The wisdom talk. When the old talks about death and afterdeath. As if their age gives authenticity to their imaginations. And they are ridiculously convinced that they’re right.
“Why is that?” I played along.
“I don’t know. It seems pointless. If you weren’t good enough to make them stay, why cry when they leave you forever?” He said it in such an airy manner I couldn’t disagree.
“I’m Tony Mathews, by the way. Since we are making small talks.” He said after a minute of silence.
“Oh. There’s a boy buried here named Tony Mathews.”
“That’s a little disturbing, to be honest.” He chuckled.
“Yeah I think he was the first to be buried here. Over a hundred years ago. He’s the first one near the gate. You must have seen it when you walked in.”
“Well I wasn’t paying attention when I entered here. Or maybe I did notice it. I don’t remember it. My memory is not as good as it used to be.”
“Memories are funny things, you know.” He continued after few moments. “That’s all you have in the end. The rich, the poor, winner and loser. In the end, all they have is their memories. And all their memories are skewed versions of reality, but it doesn’t matter. It’s theirs. Theirs to cherish & be tormented by. Memories are what they live for and it is what their life is built of. It’s like waves that hit the sea shore. As you grow old, you gather memories. Like a wave that reaches far deep into the shore. And after a point it starts retreating, taking everything it can grab with it. You forget the thing you learnt the last. Your earliest memories will be snatched from you at the very last. Aging is the ultimate curse. There’s still no scientific explanation as to why you age, you know. Plenty of explanations for how you age. But aging serves no evolutionary purpose except death. There’s no reason why cells wither and die. Why do you think we age?”
This conversation is getting more philosophical than I thought. Still it’s better than listening to Jack savoring the memory of how he raped and killed a little girl once. Not that I’m disgusted by it, it just gets boring after you hear it a hundred times.
“There’s an ancient tale about the reason behind aging, but I doubt if it’s scientific authenticity.” I waited for a snicker or something from his side. Nothing. I continued nevertheless. “It’s said that fate made a contract with the first man. That fate will help him through his endeavors, give him breakthroughs and brainstorms, help him in his quest for destiny. From ancient religions to the latest computers, fate helped mankind to achieve them all. But in return, he asked for their souls. Fate wanted to feed off of human life to survive. But he never takes much at once. Little by little every night, when humans sleep. A drop of soul. Few memories. A little energy. Our life force. And mankind has been bound to this contract since the beginning of time. This slow process is what we humans call aging. Good story, eh?”
I heard him sigh. Not sure if he was even listening.
“So Maria is your wife?” I asked, to check if he is still awake.
“Yes. My first wife, actually.”
“I drove her to death, you know. I killed her!”
“It’s very common for the living to feel guilty about the death of their close one.” I was trying to stop him from breaking down. The last thing I wanted was someone blaming himself for his wife’s suicide. There are plenty of real killers here, if I want to hear a murder story.
But his voice was steady. Far from a breakdown.
“We got married before either of us were twenty. Childhood sweethearts. We were inseparable. We had an apple farm. Life was happy. I couldn’t ask for anything more. My world was limited to the two of us and I didn’t need anything more. Then one day I had an accident. Fell off a tall tree. I fought for my life for three days and I survived. But the doctor told me that I can never be a father. I kept that from my wife. She was so happy about my return to life and I didn’t want to blemish her happiness with this tiny truth. She’s all I want in my life anyway. Nothing more. A few months later she stood in front of me with an exuberant smile and teary eyes and told me that she’s pregnant. That I’m going to be a father. My world shattered before my eyes in a second. Her eyes searched for a response on my face. I faked a smile. I hugged her tightly. Hid my face in her hair because I couldn’t look at her. She knew something was off. But I couldn’t tell her. Saying it with my mouth would make it real. I can’t do that. Days dragged into weeks and months. I was rotting from the inside as I watched her stomach swell. Finally she couldn’t stand my silence anymore. She screamed at me while rivers of tears gushed out of her eyes. She asked me what she has done wrong. She begged for forgiveness, whatever it is. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t live a day more with her. I told her that and I walked out. She was stunned. She didn’t expect this at all. And I didn’t wait for her to react. I walked out of that house and her life forever, never looked back. Few months later, I came to know that she killed herself, with the child still in her womb. It took me years to get over her death. I would never have gotten over it, if it was not for the fact that it’s her guilt that drove her to death, not me.”
I was going to sigh sympathetically, but he wasn’t finished.
“Then I met Samantha. A beautiful and strong woman. I fell in love with her. I married her. I swept all the ghosts of my past and locked it behind a closet and started a fresh life with her. I didn’t tell her about my past. Or the fact that I can never be a father. I’m a coward like that. And if there’s anything more worthy of punishment than murder in the eyes of the gods, it’s cowardice.
Samantha became pregnant! I couldn’t believe it. This cannot be true! How can God be so cruel to me? But unlike Maria, Samantha didn’t let me rot away. She demanded an explanation, strongly. I told that I cannot be a father, so she must have been unfaithful to me. She slapped my face when she heard this. Then she dragged me to a doctor. After a detailed examination, he told me that it is very much possible for me to become a father. The last doctor must have made a mistake. A mistake! A mistake that somebody else made took my life away. The full weight of what I’ve done crushed me at that moment. I was beyond redemption.”
I guess I would have shed a tear or two if it was possible. I’ve seen God and devil. I have listened to the stories of the dead and I know the secrets they took to their grave. But I never saw this coming. This old man has surprised me.
“But Samantha saved me.” He continued, in the same tone. “She never left my hand. She helped me walk back to my life. You know what it takes for a wife to keep a marriage happy when all her husband wants is to jump off a cliff and die? I don’t know what it takes, but she did it. It’s been decades now and she is still with me. She came with me when I was admitted in the hospital. She says she can never trust a paid nurse to take proper care of me. She even helped me wear this stupid gown.”
We both sat there in silence, lost in our own memories and regrets. Then we heard a woman’s voice from a long way down the trail.
“See, that’s her. My Samantha. She has come for me. Like always.” He stood up slowly with a grunt. I stood up with him. I saw a middle aged woman walking towards us hurriedly. She was wearing white. A nurse’s uniform.
“Samantha is a nurse?” I looked at him.
He looked back at me like he has no clue what I’m talking about. Then he looked back at the woman with a content smile, like a groom looks at his bride walking down the aisle.
“Mr. Thomas, we have been looking for you for the past three hours! Come with me now, I’ll get you back to your bed and give you your medication.”
“Are you his wife?” I asked her.
She opened her mouth to say something but then she stopped when she was close enough to see my face clearly. Well, I don’t blame her. I’m not much of a looker.
“I- I am his nurse. Mr. Thomas has Alzheimer’s. It’s getting bad these days. This is the third time he wandered off this month. From now on we will have to keep a special eye on him.”
“So where is Samantha?” I asked, not sure to whom. To either of them, I guess. He was looking at both of us like a bored kid watches his parents talk about things he doesn’t understand.
“I have never heard of any Samantha” She said. “It’s probably a name he picked off one of these gravestones. That’s very common among Alzheimer’s patients. When they wake up with no memory of who they are, they forge memories from what they see in their surroundings. A desperate attempt of human mind to stay sane when everything else is taken from it.”
He nodded at what she said like he totally agrees with it. As they both started walking back, Mr. Thomas turned back at me and waved, “Well good bye err.. Tony Mathews, right?”
I nodded and waved back at him, wondering how horrible his past must have been for his damaged mind to conjure up such sad memories in a matter of minutes.
I shook my head. The living ain’t that better off than the dead, I said to myself as I walked back to Jack’s grave.
Do you believe in devil? I know it feels like I have asked this question too many times now. But no, it’s not for you. I’m asking myself. Well, you can also answer it but it won’t matter. That would be like asking a penguin if it believes in deserts. You know nothing and I’m not being condescending when I say this. If anything, I’m being jealous. You all have many years still left to wake up from reality. Well, most of you at least. One day you will wake up dead. You’ll be proud for a moment that your fight was steadfast, that you marched bravely. But then you will wonder, for whom. For what?
I’ve seen a lot. Most of which I wish I didn’t. I know a lot. Except for what I believe in. When you go through what I’ve been through and know the things I know, it doesn’t matter anymore what you believe. You’ll lose faith in everything, but you will believe anything. You are stupid if you don’t. The expression ‘endless possibilities’ brings a whole bunch of horrifying permutations to you when you yourself are endless. Anything you don’t believe in is as plausible as everything you believe in.
Why did God create the devil, after all? For the same reasons he created us, the wretched pawns. Because He was proud and He was bored. Because He can. He created a nemesis to match His wits with, to keep Him entertained. Then He dispensed His soul to humans, as a wager. But ultimately they both aren’t that different. To think that the epitome of kindness will punish those who don’t follow him for all eternity is as foolish as to think that the epitome of evil will not reward those who are like him. They coexist everywhere. They are present in every fabric of the universe, from the heavens to you and me. So much for being arch enemies. They get along so well. And they both cut deals.
We all have a portion of the evil one in us. Anger. Jealousy. Bitterness. Anything that you don’t think is from the God is from him. If you like it, you affectionately call it your vices. If you don’t, sin. Or your “problem”. Me, I got a much bigger chunk of him. I have had it since the beginning. In my head. It first began as free thoughts. It expanded my mental horizon. I started playing with thoughts in my head. Dangerous thoughts. Like they say, it’s the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. But soon enough, those thoughts started to entertain me. And then those thoughts found a voice. That was when I rubbed off the boundary separating sanity from the vast expanse surrounding it. After all, who decides the benchmark for your sanity? You aren’t insane till the moment you let someone else decide the limits of your sanity. And nothing encourages you to be more insane than this knowledge. So there I was, standing in the storm of insanity with my arms wide open, knowing that I’m sane.
I had a dog when I was a kid. Gus. It was a reasonably smart dog. I guess it was nice, as nice as you expect a dog to be. It got hit by a car one night. The car didn’t stop. And neither did I expect it to. Nobody has time for a wounded dog. I could hear it yowling in pain as I walked slowly to its side. I waited it to stop. But that thing had a heart that just wouldn’t give up. I couldn’t stand its crying anymore. Its suffering was.. annoying. Unsettling, even. So I did what any person with a heart would do. I snapped its neck with both my hands. Silent. Gone. And it felt good. It was in a nicer place now. A quieter place, hopefully. That moment, when its soul flew triumphantly from its body, it changed my life. This, this was a gift! I was given a gift. An ability to end pain and suffering. An ordinary run-of-the-mill boy finally found his calling. Since then, I watched out for souls that need deliverance from this ugly corrupting world. Who wouldn’t want such a redemption? Why wait till the evil invades your mind and soul when you can be sent to the paradise while your soul is still untainted? I was doing them a favor that no one else is ready to do. I know how people will judge me if they knew. They would brand me as a killer. A murderous psychopath. But then again, when has the world not criticized anything good?
I sent countless animals and birds to heaven in my teenage years. I don’t know if they have a heaven for animals. I hope they do. I don’t want my good deeds to go in vain. But then I had to stop. People were getting suspicious. My own mother. I had to stop then. But those thoughts were always with me. With me they grew. Thoughts became voices and voices became cries. They wanted me to save more souls. Human souls. They begged so loudly in my head whenever I looked at an innocent pure child, yet to be touched by the sinful fingers of this world. But I silenced those supplications with logic. I don’t care for those kids. I shouldn’t. It’s not my responsibility to save them. Yes, it broke my heart to think of the vile world they will see soon, but I chose to be apathetic about it. But I gave in to the voices one time. When I saw a toddler with no one to care for his body or his soul. Who had no one to nourish or free him. I set his soul free. And I nodded in acknowledgement as his grateful soul flew towards the heaven. And the voices swore to me that it was the last time. They understood that the world will never understand this. The world will never see the purity of my intentions. And the voices didn’t trouble me for years.
Then I had daughter. My beautiful little princess. The apple of my eye. The purest and the most extraordinary thing that has ever happened to my life. I had never felt luckier or more blessed. I know what you are thinking. Yes, I could also feel a frenzy of unrest building inside my head. And gradually, the unrest turned into a commotion and finally into outright chaos. The saddest part is, I don’t even know if the voices came back by themselves or if I willed them back. And they came back strong. This time, I was too weak to fight them off. For the first time, I heard the tone of a command in their voices, instead of a pleading or a suggestion. For the first time I realized maybe this wasn’t a gift from the heavens, but from somewhere else. But it was too late. I gave in, for the last time. And soon after that, I pressed the gun to my own temples. But this time I was under no illusion. I know I wasn’t sending my soul to a better nicer place. I was condemning myself to wherever they would agonize me for all eternity.
And I ended up in heaven. A murderer of his own daughter ends up in heaven! Or maybe it wasn’t heaven. Maybe that was my hell. After all, I begged to give me this morbid life instead. And here I met the devil. Or some part of it. And I made a deal with him. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to strike a deal with him. He is always around you. Just a call away. No prayers. No supplications. No worship. He asks you what you want and tells you what he wants in return, in clear words. That’s what makes him different from God. God doesn’t want anything to do with you. And the devil, you’re his business. There are a lot of people who have struck a deal with the devil. And few of them even think they got the better end of the bargain. That they pulled wool over the eyes of the ultimate trickster. They feel so pleased about themselves for a while. Then after a while they become a bit worried. The paranoia grows on them. They live their lives watching over their shoulders, not trusting a single soul from then on. Anticipating and fearing the revenge of the scorned devil. God maybe kind, but the hubris against the devil will never be forgiven. And that’s how he gets his revenge, by making their lives hell.
He asked me what I want. Plain and simple. My daughter, I blurted out without a moment’s hesitation.
I can bring her back to you, but what are you ready to pay for it? He asked with a knowing smile.
I couldn’t believe my ears. I could feel a big surge of fear filling my chest. I could hear a familiar voice whispering inside my head that he would smile and say that he was just toying with you and walk away.
Anything. I’ll do anything. I whispered.
Hmmm. Well then. You will have to live your biggest fear. Tell me, what do you fear the most? He crossed his arms and looked at me patiently.
I didn’t have to think much. To be damned in heaven forever. I’ll do that if you can make my daughter alive. I just want her to live.
He looked at me curiously. Squinted his eyes as if he’s weighing what I just said. And then he smiled. The wickedest, most evil smile I have ever seen in my life or after. He just smiled and shook his head ever so slightly.
I was just toying with you, he said with a cold hollow chuckle. And then he turned around and walked away into the darkness.
How close do you have to get to death to call it a near death experience?
People often talk about touching death, tasting it or escaping it by mere seconds. Is that all it takes to know death, to be seconds away from it? Aren’t we all just seconds away from death anyway? Just look around. It’s very likely that there is some sharp object lying near you. Maybe you are standing on the side of a busy road. Maybe you’re sipping coffee standing on a balcony. How far are you from death actually? A plunge, a step, a leap. Isn’t that all that would take you to experience death? What’s stopping you really, from having a death experience?
These so called NDE stories are so full of shit. There’s always a tunnel with a faint light at the end. So conveniently easy to depict in documentaries and movies. I’m not saying they are phonies. Maybe they honestly believe that they saw it. And they talk of an indescribable calm that lulls your senses. That’s understandable. Human body is meant to die and perish. It’s appealing to stop resisting and letting your organs have a good final rest. But that’s all in your head, it’s not death. Mind can play tricks on you, yeah big elaborate tricks. Sometimes I too see a tiny light at the end of the darkness, when I close my eyes. But then again, I have seen many things. I’m getting distracted now, as usual. I’m working on improving my focus, but it’s too loud and crowded in here.
I’ll tell you about a near death experience. And I don’t think it can get any nearer to death than this.
I was lying there. Numb. Dead. Lying in the pool of my own blood. That’s what I imagine, at least. I will never know that. My head finally silent. After 33 years of ruckus and chaos, my mind was suddenly quiet. Empty. You think it’s hard to share your life with someone who doesn’t agree with you on anything? Try sharing your head with one. How I used to wish we were two separate persons. I would be such a nice guy. A model citizen. A good son. An amazing friend. And probably a loving father. But I shudder when I think about what would he be. Anyways, I learnt that’s not how it works. There is no use of wishing. You learn to live with what you get. Or whom. Anyways, it’s all gone. I was dead. Or almost dead, as the skeptic in you might say. Either way, finally it was time for me to know the answer to the ultimate question of mankind – What’s next?
You know how I know for sure that those tunnel kind of experiences are bullshit? I’m not dumb enough to think it’s impossible that someone could cross over through a tunnel. But I know they are bullshitting by the way they act when they return. They turn religious. All of a sudden, they become God pleasers. You may ask, well isn’t that reasonable? Knowing that God exists shouldn’t make one go to church? Make him pray to Him? Make him more responsible about his life? Make him desperate to get a ticket to heaven, somehow. Anyhow. Except it’s not like that. I have seen God. I have seen heaven. And if you saw the heaven I saw, you would do anything not to see it again.
Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t see a pitchfork carrying God with cruel eyes waiting to torture me for eternity. I didn’t see the devil either. Devil is an entirely different character. And he’s as real as God is. Anyways, that’s for some other time. I saw God. I spent time in heaven. A few moments. A few millennia. It’s all the same there. Time is no longer a quantifiable variable. And heaven is not at all like you or I would imagine. Or in other words, it’s more than exactly what you or I imagine.
Heaven is an over glorified whore house. An eternal prison of pleasure. And the God and the angels are its warden and guards. It’s built to fulfill your every desire. Realization of all your whims just a thought away. Like an ever lasting orgasm. But what makes orgasms special is that it doesn’t last forever. Humans are not built for ever lasting orgasms. Even the sweetest of your dreams become a nightmare if you can’t wake up from it. Humans struggle with themselves in the quest for a meaning of their life, a sense of purpose. And when you reach heaven, it’s not answered. Instead, the meaning of life becomes a meaningless redundancy. Without a desire to drive us or a purpose to thrive for, we are redundant. It will take a million lifetimes to enjoy the pleasures of the heaven, but you are no longer bound by the constraints of lifetimes when you are there. Within a moment you will feel the sucking emptiness inside you. Within a moment, you want to be empty. To cease to exist. To be wiped off from this pointless existence. But that is the only limitation in heaven. Heaven is the house of God. The house of creation and abundance. You can’t be destroyed in heaven. Eternity is the sweetest curse.
I’ve never indulged in this much pleasure when I was alive. And now, it looks so vile. When gratification is just a thought away, even the worst of the sins on the earth will seem less horrid than the pleasures of heaven. I wanted a way out. I fought for an alternative. I begged for hell. I prayed to be tormented. I was ready to be tortured and be deprived for eternity if that would make me appreciate the pleasures I enjoyed in heaven. The answer I got was even more bizarre. Hell doesn’t exist. Why would an abundantly loving and eternally forgiving God create a hell, the angels asked me. I was stumped. Only later did I came to know that that is not the case. Deception, another truth of the heaven.
Anyways, they gave me an alternative. A symbolic hell. The worst possible life on earth. And I have never been more glad than I was when I jumped at the offer. Heaven is the ultimate destination of the soul, so I’ll have to leave it there. I’ll have my memories, my thoughts, a body and more importantly, the ability to feel and appreciate the pain and the pleasures of life. To give hope or inflict pain on someone. To be afraid and excited and regretful and cruel. I’ve seen the best the human mind can conjure and now they sent me to the worst. To live among the dead. To take care of this graveyard. I call this my home, my heaven. I know the story of every single grave here. And without a soul, I can be in any of those stories. I can live in any of their lives.
I still don’t know with whom I traded my soul, the God or the devil. But what I know is that I would rather have a million near death experiences than a death experience.
This is my first post. Well, it will be if I decide to publish this. Even if I do, I don’t know how many more will follow. I’m easily distracted, fortunately. Most of you consider distractions to be undesirable. But it is not. Later than sooner, you will realize that distractions are a blessing, believe me. But I guess you should not. Yes, don’t believe me. That’s another thing you will realize, maybe sooner than later – Never believe a stranger. What can a stranger possibly gain by lying to me, you may ask. A lot, you’ll realize- Ugh, I’m sounding like a broken record now.
A few chuckles, a lot more sighs and a million memories, thoughts and regrets. I’ve had all these since I started writing this till this moment. It’s been 133 words already. What have I told you? Not much, I guess. Nothing, maybe. Should I tell you? Should I give you a sneak peak inside my head? Should I give you a look around through my eyes? That certainly won’t be nice, but is that even right? Are you supposed to know? I know you must be annoyed by now. If you decide not to read this ranting anymore, I’d understand. But you won’t, I know.
209 words. This piece is getting saved every few seconds automatically. It’s distracting. I suppose they don’t want this to end abruptly and lose forever what I’m so meticulously jotting down. Ah, the irony is palpable.
Do you believe in God? This may seem out of the blue but I was getting bored of the distracted ranting and I know you were too. You might have been asked this question countless times now. Most people would stop at this, without asking which God do you believe in. It’s not a very nice thing to ask, but they do want to know it nevertheless. Some might ask how does it matter which God? There’s only one God and they all are the same.
But then what exactly do you mean by do you believe in God? That you believe that God exists? If that’s the case, then isn’t it essentially the same as asking Do you believe in the devil? Because if there’s a God, there ought to be a devil. Balance of the universe and all. But the question I want to ask is, do you believe in death?
It’s a strange question, don’t you think? Even silly, perhaps. Of course you believe in death. Death is a reality. It occurs to everyone. You might even have seen it with your own eyes. But what exactly do you know about death? Where do they go? What happens to them? Yes, we all have heard the stories about heaven and hell, but put them aside for a while. You know a person his whole life. Live with him. Make and share memories with him. Trust your past with him and plan a future with him. Then he stops existing, abruptly. It’ll take a while for you to accept the fact, but you’ll come around. Someone you called your father, mother, beloved.. they become a body over a moment. You even stop acknowledging it as the person it was till a while ago. Though they stay as the same in your mind, you call it “the body” during whatever little time you spend with him before his burial or cremation or whatever. Personally, I like burying over other alternatives. There’s a reason why it’s better, but that’s for some other time.
I’ll tell you about a death I saw with my own eyes. I don’t think I quite believed in death before that. Not the way I do now, at least. The gun was in my hand. It’s nozzle pressed hard against his temple. My hands were shaking, but I had to do it. He was a lunatic. A deranged maniac who killed someone I loved dearly. I knew he was helpless. He said voices told him to do things, and I believe him. I liked him, he’s a likable guy. But he had to be stopped. Don’t know who he will kill when the voices take over next time. He knew I was going to kill him. He was sobbing. If only he spoke and tried to reason with me then maybe he could have lived. Maybe he would have spoken if I had let him, but I pulled the trigger. A deafening sound. That’s the last sound I heard while I was alive. I didn’t even feel the bullet.
757 words. I think I like this. I think we will meet again. Now I’ll leave you with three more words.
PS: True Story