“So whats your magic number my lady?” Abbey half seriously asked the girl standing nearby in the other queue
She disdainfully ignored him before giving him a go-to-hell look.
I really liked it.
“Why do you even bother with all this earthly crap” – I said
Not being put down by these small incidences he continued to grin thinking about his next prank
“Well I just want to enjoy my life you know. And why do you always get that awefully serious man. Ok now tell me – does this hurt – “ He said while pinching me on my arm
“Oouch…ya it does. And it will do till we enter the gates”
“And shouldn’t you now start thinking of the gates too. Aren’t you curious which one of them will you go into? I mean you spent whole life working for this moment and…” – I said as his eyes steered away from me
The queues were very long. I could barely make out the figure sitting at the counter sending people to the two gates. How easy would it have been if the concept of bribe was not that alien concept here; I wondered. Anyway, time didn’t matter but getting stuck with Abbey here was a pain enough. He is one heck of a fellow constantly grabbing attention of others. We entered the queue at the same time and started some chat to kill some time. And now,within few minutes he’s on arm pinching terms with me. Though I kept on cursing him, he has actually alleviated the mood of the crowd here…which, otherwise would have given me a nervous breakdown standing in a queue waiting for your settlement and wondering about your whole life.
Finally after what seemed like hours our turn came. There were only two people sitting at the counter. On the left, sat a man who looked like in his 80s with white hair and long white beard. He was wearing a round glass with a big black frame and occasionally tilting his head down to look at the crowd from top of his glasses. He had a very different aura with him. His forehead glowed like a sun and the wrinkles on his face only added to his demeanor. Next to him sat a relatively younger man who was handing down documents the older guy asked. He had a big moustache and strong physique. Behind him I could clearly see rusting almirahs with files and parchments about to spill out any moment.
They both were evaluating every mortal’s life through these parchments and files but I guessed it was the older guy who was making all the decisions. And then I realized that he was Chitragupta– the God who keeps account of good and bad deeds of every human being on earth.
Good God …so Hindus were right – he is evaluating everyone’s Karma. I wondered if he ever made mistakes in counting your deeds. If he was always sure that his accounts were correct. What if he does a calculation mistake? He can’t always be right…I mean 20,000 years of human existence and billions and trillions of lives lived…what are the chances that he was perfect. Afterall, accountants do mistakes all the time, so what makes sure that he did not send say Adolf Hitler to Heaven and Mahatma Gandhi to Hell because of some misplaced files, or a “Lets have fun day” at his job. And what about his account? – Isn’t this a conflict of interest. For a pang of a moment I thought of asking him these questions but then decided otherwise.
Behind the counter I could see the two entry gates. They were not much different from each other as I expected. They both were having an identical golden arch with some divine artistry done on them. But I was quite sure that there would be hell of a difference between them on the other side…literally!
On one of the gates two beautiful angels played harps in their hands and welcoming people inside. It suddenly reminded me of beautiful air hostesses welcoming you on board while collecting your passes. I shrugged at the weird juxtaposition. But it was a no brainer that this was the heaven’s gate.
The other gate had couple of bouncers who were dragging tough nuts to the gate who failed to accept their fate. People were crying and cursing and trying to “resolve” their issues in earthly manner with these bouncers, but in vain. So this is where they put bad guys for eternity. I thought.
At this point I turned to Abbey who was unusually silent for last 2 minutes and was looking at the bouncers. I guess he is quite afraid now.
“Hey man…I hope that pinch did not hurt you much. Even if it did, please don’t tell Chitragupta man. Please man ..” – Said Abbey who now finally looked sober at the deciding moment. I don’t know about his past but based on what I have seen of him, bouncers are gonna love him. Playing pranks on people for petty pleasure must not have gone well in Chitragupta’s books !
Well I don’t have anything to worry about. I paid all my taxes. Lead an average life. Did justice to my work and everything…no chance I’ll be put to hell. I thought.
“Tell me man….please” – by now Abbey was shouting at the top of his voice to get my attention.
“…Yes….ya ya…I forgive you…don’t worry” – I said
“Abbey Choudhury” – shouted the younger fellow over the crowd
“Y…Yes…that’s me” – said Abbey
I wished him best as he nervously stood in front of Chitragupta. While the younger fellow retrieved a thick dusty file, Chitragupta tilted his head to look Abbey in the eye who was now clearly sweating.
HE started going through his file - “Hmmmm, an interesting case…to have done so many things in one life time is quite unique. Well, not necessarily all in a good way but yes so many things…”
“So what do you think Abbey….hmmmm?...whats your number hmmmm? “
“S…Sir.. I really don’t know..but …but I tried sir…this is how you made me..and I tried…” – Abbey was now shaking with a fear of what might await him in hell. Bouncers were now fixatedly looking at him. I guess they have already made up their mind that Abbey won’t go down quietly.
At which point Chitragupta tilted his head towards the younger man and discussed something. After which he gave a smile and shouted – “Plus Two”!
Hearing this the two angels started playing their harp and one of them politely signaled him to come to heaven. Abbey could not believe it and neither could I. Plus two? – it couldn’t have been narrower than this. After that thick account of deeds he had two more good deeds than the bad ones. Well I don’t know how he managed his life but he finally was relieved and thanked Chitragupta and his assistant. Before I could completely absorb the Abbey’s fate, came a voice piercing the crowd - “Vaibhav Thakur”
“Yes. Here.” – I answered
“hmmmmmm…..so what are the odds” – I could clearly see Chitragupta smiling as he turned the pages of my account….
“hmmmmm…”- he then gestured his assistant to lean forward
“Take a look…you might be interested” – Said the accountant God who was, for the first time of what I saw, grinning
“Tell me what it is….see don’t play games with me…I am not Abbey that you are taking so much time to decide”
“hmmmm?....oh…well actually you are worse”
I..am going to hell? That’s not possible. I have lived a good life. I never thought that my life would end like this. And I did everything right. I never dropped the ball….but…I have a negative balance…no…this can’t be right.” – I scrambled to find words as my sentences turned to gibberish thinking about the misery which lay ahead of me in the hell; beginning with those two bouncers
“This can’t be right Chitragupta” – I said. But my voice got lost in the assistant’s giggle who was still looking at my account wide eyed. There was a mysterious happiness in his voice.
“See Chitragupta Sir. I don’t know if there is a mistake in your records …but I can’t have a negative karma…I am telling you that I am not going to hell…I did not do anything wrong….you must have made a mistake…” I said while realizing that tears have rolled off my eyes. I could still see a big smile on assistant’s face through my watered eyes.
“No No you are not. Hmmmmmm….” Chitragupta continued …. “You are not going to hell”
“See…Your number is exactly zero!. Your good deeds perfectly outweigh the bad ones…so you can’t be sent to hell..but at the same time you can’t be sent to heaven too. This has not happened in the last 4000 years….do you understand…hmmmmm?”
“What do you mean this has not happened in 4000 years.?”
“hmmmmmmm? It means that it has not happened in last 4000 years.”- answered Chitragupta
“ So now my child you’ll have to service me till next time this happens. Believe me…it is still better than hell. And I see that you have done some finance also…that will help….hmmmmmm?”
“Sir you are forgetting something” – said the assistant still smiling unmanageably
“hmmmmmm?....oh yes….you have served me well for 4000 years…I don’t know if this new guy will keep upto but since you deserve it ….now I declare the Nirvana upon you…Trishanku.”
Disclaimer: According to Hindu mythology, Trishanku was left hanging between Earth and Heaven in a tussle of wills between Devas and guru Vishwamitra. Well, I took some creative freedom to employ him at the court of Chitragupta. Hope this disclaimer won’t irk RSS now ;)