Knock, Knock. I waited for a minute.
Knock, Knock! I waited for another minute.
Knock, Knock!! I waited for two more minutes.
No reply. Maybe I was given wrong directions to the place.
I turned back and was walking away when suddenly a small window opened and a woman with calming brown eyes, dark hair and a brightly lit face looked back at me with lots of concern. “May I help you! You seem to be lost!”
I kept looking back at those eyes and was lost in a trance.
She smiled and continued, “Are you sure you are at the right place?”
Suddenly a dark cloud roared back reminding me of the cold, wet journey I had just finished while reaching this far. “Oh yes, I need to get into this place, Heaven or Hell whatever this place is”, I answered back tired and unmindful of whatever was in store ahead as I was sure I had seen enough of both from where I was just coming and this would just be a version 2.0 of my life. But perhaps, just perhaps, there may be nothingness here, a state of calm where the tides and ebbs would not matter anymore.
I have had enough of a roller coaster life back there on planet earth. Success, failure, love, hate, truth, delight, pain, agony,…. Everything.
I had enjoyed the song of the cuckoo bird sitting alone on a hill top and felt pure bliss. I had heard thunderous claps of people cheering my each and every word at the age of sixteen or that of my son years later at similar age. I had whistled and danced along with the crowd when they went rapturous in a packed auditorium while seeing my daughter’s dance performance and knew that this was pure joy. I had felt the warmth of my father’s heart even from his Alzheimer’s ridden body. I had lived in heaven.
And hell too. To hear my mother’s voice go silent when she felt my pain of losing my self esteem. To see the agony in my wife’s eyes on seeing me die a thousand deaths every day when days were darker than nights for me. To let my life reach a cul-de-sac of my own making. To get up in the morning and not knowing the reason why I was awake or what I would do with the day ahead. Life in hell, at least it may keep me busy and make me stay away from wretched thoughts.
“But we are not expecting you right now. Unfortunately these doors open by appointment. We will ourselves come and pick you up, when your time will come. We offer home pick up at no extra cost and you could kindly go back and wait and make the most of your days …..”, she smiled and was replying when I cut her abruptly.
“But I don’t want to go back there. I know my time is up and I am sick and tired of my current existence.” I tried to pour out all my frustrations.
“Really and what exactly are your concerns?”, she smiled and replied in a soothing tone.
I recited my long list of current personal life problems and why I was sick and tired of being a nobody.
She laughed aloud. I was bewildered. “If these gates would open for people with hurt egos or false vanities or who are facing bouts of failures then most of the world would move inside here”, she laughed and replied back. “Anything major, my friend?”
I was taken aback. But did not wish to give up still.
“Besides there is so much going wrong in that world. Religion, politics, money, power and fear rule the roost and honesty, righteousness, truth, humanity and love have fallen behind.
Boundaries of nations are created by men and then they sacrifice some other men to protect those man-made demarcations. Religions are created in the name of people who only want to propagate love, humanity and bring peace. Then people fight in the name of the same religion to protect it from another religion which also was created to propagate similar principles.
Women are punished and looked down upon for sex follies of men. Somewhere animals are eaten with great delight and somewhere else humans are slaughtered to protect the same animals. …….”, I went on with my list of endless worries hoping that the same would melt her heart and she would let me in.
“Does all this really bother you?”, she questioned with a pained look in her eyes. I nodded silently.
“So what did you do about it”, she continued, “Did you keep silent when men were being lynched in the name of Allah or Ram or Christ? Did you protest when people were being asked to hate each other because they belonged to different nations? Were you standing for the people who were labelled as weaker than you because of their class, caste, color, creed, culture, religion or even gender? Did you follow the path of truth even when it made enemies out of your friends or felt that social acceptance was paramount?”
“Sometimes. But I am only an individual and how can I stand against the majority? Or the mob? Or even the age old social norms? “, I tried to reason out as it was important for a family man like me to stay away from obstacles and protect the interests of my family first.
“Really and what exactly you were afraid of? Fury. Failure. Death. And you chose to live a life of fear and want to end it prior to your due time but are not willing to take a chance to make a difference? Do you really want me to recite names of hundreds and thousands of individuals the world have seen whose individual action has been enough to bring in paradigm shifts.
And how does it matter if you could not affect others, not even one person? Is it not enough that you were right and just and fought till the very end, whenever it comes naturally? Have you ever heard of a single animal, insect or plant other than human desperate to end its life just because it is not having its way? ” She went quiet and calm as the words resonated in my ears.
“So do you still want to come in or would like to take another chance and make a difference in your own way? ” She smiled one last time and I smiled back.
I did not even wait to answer back. Or even bid goodbye. No words were required and none were uttered. There was also no time for any pleasantry as there was so much more to do in the world. It was late in the evening but I had no fear as the light of truth was shining bright and showing me the way.
I turned back and started walking. And have been walking since then. I know now that there are miles to go and never to stop…..
Posted in Times of India on 9th July 2017. Link below-