There are many ways of attaining salvation.
Various paths lead to redemption.
The catch is what kind you are looking for.
You are a successful physician waking up in the morning, in the middle of the night, whenever duty calls. She walks into your clinic with a huge belly and tells you, ‘No, I am not pregnant.’ Never mind that she takes the seat proffered courteously in a crowded bus, smiling at the man who feels good about having done his bit to society, a good turn and all that jazz. She rests her arm on her belly, her mind still.
She wouldn’t be seen dead at the doctor’s clinic, but for the fact that she cannot sleep at night anymore. There was this hand that began at her belly and worked its way upward and she couldn’t breathe. She didn’t mind dying then, but he dragged her, to Medical Woman, much against her will.
You, as a medical woman, lick your chops at facing such a ‘case’. Yes, she can visualize her rubbing her palms in anticipation, thinking, ‘Oh to sink my scalpel into your belly…’
She can hear every word said and those left unsaid. She sits there listening to the conversation you are having with the man and not a shadow flits on her face. They park themselves there discussing her and she doesn’t care. All she wants is to get away.
You give her a couple of sedatives. You make her sign. You make him sign. They don’t even read the papers.
She is ready.
She spends the night in darkness, the mosquitoes singing to her.
She is prepared and lays herself on the cold granite topped table.
Hmmm. Brown and Gray. Strange colours for an operating theatre.
She wishes the team all the very best. They look at her and then away. Their eyes look so warm above their masks. Their eyebrows like suspended caterpillars.
If only they would all be normal.
If only they would exchange banter, friendly like, you know.
After all it was she who would end up dead in all probability.
What was their problem?
Five hours later, only you didn’t notice the time, for you were ‘out’, you hear the friendly banter you have been waiting for.
Well, finally. You see flash bulbs exploding and your eyelids register them as flashes of orange. And you think, ‘Why the hell are they taking pictures?’ And then you look around groggy from all that and you see the thing you have been growing, harvested in a bucket. Yes, a piece of the creative you.
Medical Miracle woman takes the day off. Her staff of nurses keep a steady eye on her. She slips in and out, like a symphony fading out and coming back with another effort.
Medical Miracle woman feels a twinge in her abdomen.
She ignores it.
Physician, heal thyself.
A year later she’s gone.
The clinic changes hands.
The traffic moves past without knowing.
Another day, another life.
Thirst. The aches. Trouble in the pancreas. Not enough insulin. Wounds don’t heal. Going blind in an eye. Kidneys don’t flush out toxins. I work despite it all. My home a hell. My family gives me hell. My life hell. You get the drift? Hell. I ride an old, old scooter. I feel dizzy. I pause. If only this spinning stopped.
Nobody knew. I waited on the cold metal table. They came. Took a look at me and nodded. Took me away.
She called. He called. They called. She called again.
‘Could I please speak to –‘
‘I’m sorry he’s no more.’
She mourned his loss for a day. An entire day. He was her financial advisor. He made her take insurance before her surgery. He told her of the new savings’ schemes that were set afloat, advising her what would suit her family the best.
And now he was gone.
Well, he was family.
More than family. Family, often, was out to get you. Your money.
Now she mourned the death of an insurance salesman. Just last week, he had come around to collect her cheques for various payments and he spoke to her about his daughter.
‘I wish she knew what she wanted. She paints the most beautiful pictures. She has such talent. You must see her work. Do you know of any boy, you know, a suitable match… I would like to see her married.’
I shot him impatient looks when he wasn’t noticing and smiled when he looked up from his teacup. Well, how was I to know?
And have you heard of our priest who took on the role of escorting all departed souls to their final place in heaven?
Fools, they all hope for heaven. Now, I, I know I’m going down. Down to hell. Hell is where the action is. Black and red with flickering flames. A colour scheme to die for. People who are like you.
Heaven is not for me. Not with that wishy washy white and blue palette. With insipid clouds and monotonous harps.
Sorry, I digress.
About our priest. Our priest had problems. Tried ‘Home’ remedies. Fasted. Underwent purification rituals.
Now his son escorts the dearly lamented souls over the Vaitarini, the river you cross after death.
There are many ways of attaining salvation. Various paths lead to redemption. The catch is what kind you are looking for.
Well, there is no catch really.
The interval between the two is when it all happens.
Here is where it all happens.
The urgent need of the hour is to live, while you are at it.
I mean, like, really live.
So, when your moment comes, you are ready.
You certainly don’t want your epitaph to read, ‘Unfinished Business’.
I most certainly do not.