(A short story)
Spirituality is often a blue print to ascend to heaven. While I retired to bed comfortably and fell asleep, I had not anticipated that I shall wake up in heaven. But that is what happened
The air was pure. Landscape in its pristine green with bushes of flowers all around. Chirping birds seem to be playing to discreet composer. Sun was bright but pleasing.
It smelled like spring, felt like summer and soothing as winter.
I started to walk underneath the trees. The grass had no impression. The fresh dew reflecting bright sun rays in a golden glow. I was hesitant to trample the grass but curiosity overtook. Walking on the grass was like treading through a Kashmir carpet. The foot would sink in the grass and I realised I was barefoot. It was a surprise for I had never set my foot on floor ever, without slipper or shoe. The colour of skin in green grass had a new meaning. I realised the shoe was redundant. I looked back for my footprints but there were none as if I had never walked over the grass. My wondering continued for a while when caught the glimpse of a building through shrubs and trees and I walked to its door. The din of the noise was perceptible from a short distance and I went into the building in complete thoughtlessness.
It was a crowd divided into several groups. There were priests in variety of costumes in white robes and collar, in saffron dhoti and tilak on forehead, in black jacket and head gear and many different attires. It was apparent they were all priests representing different religions. They were all debating. I caught hold of a Reverend and asked him, “Father! Is it heaven ?”. He said, “Of Course son. The promise of Jesus is never in vain.” I asked him again, “What this Hindu priest, Rabbi and other priests doing here?”. He said “The compassion of jesus knows no boundaries.” I again asked “But they professed no faith?”. The Rev. looked perplexed only for a moment and smiled “Mysterious are the ways of our Lord. His mercy is boundless”.
Since the conversation was yielding nothing more I went on and caught hold of a Hindu priest and asked him “Panditji, are we in heaven?”. “Yes, of course yajman”, he said. “Sir where is Chitragupta or Indra or Yamraj? (Chitragupta is the Hindu counterpart of St. Peter).
“You see we are in upper heaven. It is beyond Dharamraj and Chitragupta.”
“Upper heaven? Nobody told this before?” Said I.
“Yajman, these things are written in our scriptures. Alas I don’t remember by heart. I will show you when we get those holy scriptures, here.” He said.
I was wondering if the scriptures were left behind because of holiness or we were in heaven because of holiness.
Now I turned to the priest in long black coat, and asked the same question. He replied ‘Janab, we are in heaven’s waiting room.’
‘So it means we have to wait for very long time till we meet our destiny’ I said.
He smiled under his gleaming shaved upper lip and said ‘You understood correctly.’
‘And we shall get those divine girls for carnal pleasure?
‘Not now and not to every one. Those who lived life as per the command of God will go to heaven and get as commanded and communicated by the messenger of God.’
Now I felt that perhaps I was wrong and I was not in heaven. The rhetoric has not ended. How could it be possible? I came out of building and was surprised to see that a patch of the grass had dried and similarly some flowers had also started to wither for want of water . I looked around but could not locate any source of water. I again went inside the building and this time caught hold of another priest and requested him to help me find the source of water so that we may irrigate the withering garden. This priest excused himself that there was an important debate going on and he being a representative of his religion could not leave his important position for the sake of few flowers or blades of grass.
I looked around and saw that every one was busy to persuade others to join for salvation. It appeared to me it was no point asking anyone until I saw a bald man in white apron who appeared to be some kind of scientist. I approached him with the problem. He scratched his beard and took out a pencil from his pocket and gestured me to come to the wall on which he started writing.
X+3y*6g(90/16x + 4c) = O.
I looked into his eyes the moment he turned around, to guess what he was referring to. Perhaps he understood that I understood nothing. He said this is the formula by which we calculate the requirement and supply of water to any crop. Now over a period of time, as it has turned out, there has to be an imbalance and which will lead to total famine. So it is apparent that process has already begun. I interjected and said “Sir, this is a small patch. If you help me locate water and we may irrigate it”. He said “No. No. I cannot help you anymore with this. I have important job at hand. I have to tell all the people gathered here how unscientific and irrational their philosophies are. In the meanwhile my assistant is working on a genetically modified crop which will need no or little water”.
He was as hopeless as others. I was in despair. I noticed that smiling guy. He would go around, touching and comforting crease or tail or some other part of costume of other people and with a grin assure the concerned person that everything was alright. A budding politician. I approached him with same request. He hugged me. Grinned. Shook my hand and told me what a kind and noble person I was. He also told that how thoughtful I was for the heaven. Now I had expected that he would help me. He continued to speak ‘look I have a very bright plan in my mind. I will soon will be able to persuade all these people to follow me and it that happens, water source does not matter, we shall dig a well. You just wait outside.’
Sadly I turned around and came out. I started to look for source of water. After wondering around for a while I got tired and decided to rest under a tree with my back against the trunk. I closed my eyes hoping that if it was a dream it will end. In a few moments o realised I was not alone. I looked around and saw a person lying on the other side of the trunk with his eyes open. He was humming something. I stood nearby him looking straight in his eyes. Suddenly he turned his head towards me and smiled with his about twenty teeth. Such a grin was assuring and I smiled back. He got up and said, ‘Come, I’ll show you around. We have work to do.’
I said ‘those people inside …..?’ He said “Do not worry. As long as they remain inside”. I asked “What if they come outside?”.
‘Then? What will we do ?. We shall wait and start all over again.’ He replied.
“We shall wait for the end and start all over again”.
© Sandeep Bhalla