Heaven And Hell
A short story
*Consecutive Serial: How Much to Say?
Original in Kashmiri 'silsilûvàr- kyà kyà vanû? - *M.K.Raina
Translation: T.N.Dhar 'Kundan'
| died and soon thereafter two hefty young men appeared before me. They must have been the death-agents of modern days for they were bright-faced and devoid of any horns. One of them was clean-shaven and the other had a French-cut.
I was gauging their size and gait when they suddenly held me by my hands and lifted me up. Then they took towards the sky. I was stunned. I could hardly walk straight on the smooth earth and here was I flying as it were along with them on the sky path. My limbs were still but I was drifting like a fighter aircraft in the air without any strings. I realized that I had ceased to live yet I had aspirations ripe in my heart. I looked down. The cobra was coiled in the ditch. He was perhaps apprehending my return to usurp the treasure that he was guarding.
After traversing a whole world we reached some spot. Pardon me, where is the question of the world? That I had left behind on my death itself. Of course you can say that after traveling the whole length of the sky these agents carried me to a place. The clean-shaven agent took out some instrument from his pant pocket and held it before his mouth. It resembled a telephone in our world. It was attractive no doubt. Perhaps it was also a telephone but a wireless one. I had heard that in foreign countries there are wireless telephones. May be he had brought one from there itself. But why should I bother. I had desired to get a telephone installed at my house but that desire had remained unfulfilled. My father had deposited five hundred rupees in the telephone department ten years back but without any result. When I approached the concerned officers of the department they had this to say, ‘Are you gone mad! People have deposited two thousand rupee each under the 'Own Your Phone' scheme some twenty years back and they are yet to get their telephones. Where do you stand with only five hundred rupee deposit?’ I had no reply. Then with the grace of this mendicant, I had thought to go in for a telephone under the Immediate Installation scheme by paying extra money but alas I did not live to see that come true. Had I been favoured by providence and got hold of the treasure, I would have been sitting at my window today with a telephone in my hand and calling Makhan Lal, my neighbour. He would get stunned but that was not to be. Obviously how could this happen with a luckless person like me? Who should I complain to?
I heaved a sigh and gazed at the wireless telephone of the agent. He was talking to somebody. In between he was looking to me and shaking his head and occasionally he would burst into laughter. The other agent continued to hold me by my hand. After a while he put his phone back into his pocket and asked me my name. I replied, "Back on earth people used to call me with my pet name 'Sahab' but in reality my name was Krishna Das or the servant of Krishna. I was my own servant more than that of Lord Krishna." He gave a stern look to me but did not respond. We continued our journey, aerial one at that. We got into deep clouds and that cooled me a lot. I tried to engage these agents in conversation but both of them were self-centered. They did not listen to me with the result I had to keep mum.
As soon as we came out of the clouds I spotted a wall, with two doors. On one was written ‘Heaven’ and on the other ‘Hell’. With great enthusiasm I started proceeding towards Heaven but these agents forcibly turned my head towards hell. I protested but to no avail. My limbs were numb. As I entered, my eyes became blank. The scene in the hell was exactly the same as I had heard down below on the earth. Fire was aglow at many places and the agents of death were singing and dancing in front of these fires. May be people of questionable deeds were getting burnt in it. At some places people were hanging on the branches of the trees. There was a crowd at one place and the people there were making a great noise. The Arbiter god was announcing punishments for these people sitting on a raised platform. When I reached near them I was stunned. I saw such persons there as were known for their charity and philanthropist deeds back home. To meet and see them, people would spend fortunes and traverse miles and miles of distance. I thought that all that appeared to be a falsehood. I realized that even what I thought was audible. The agent with French-cut was startled but did not figure out what I was thinking. Yet he told me, "Why are you repenting now? Why did you not think then?" I replied, "No, not at all. I am not thinking what you thought I was thinking. I am only at a loss to find even such persons here who had done good deeds on earth." The agent was perhaps knowledgeable. He replied, "That is not so. The fact is that people on earth are in essence different from what they appear." I had got an answer to my question. As for myself I had no doubt that I had hell and only hell to go to. Whatever little good I might have done that I had advertised there and then. There was hardly any person known to me whom I had not narrated the details of the good deeds done by me from time to time. But I was surprised about these persons who were counted among noble souls on the earth. Before my very eyes there were almost a dozen of such people begging before the Arbiter god with folded hands. Good that they did not spot me or else they would feel more humiliated and I would incur a sin for nothing.
The nature was in my favour. I had a booking for the heaven and the ticket was still with me. I pulled my hands off the grip of the agent and took a seat on a stone slab. There was hardly any grass where one could sit with ease. The agent with French-cut gazed towards me and asked, "Are you tired so soon; you have still a long way to go." I replied, "No, not at all. Actually I have a booking done for the heaven from the earth itself. If you do not trust me I will show you the receipt." He could hardly take my word for it. So he said, "You a woebegone person and a booking for the heaven! You must be joking. The tickets for heaven are not scattered like litter that you have picked up one for yourself. Let me see what ticket you have got."
I took out the paper from my pocket and showed it to him. It was duly signed by the signatory authorized by the Arbiter god. The agent became pale to see it. He showed it to his companion and the two muttered something to each other in some alien lingua. May be they spoke Sanskrit but I could not fathom it at all. We never studied Sanskrit. As for the Bhagavad Gita, I could read maximum four or five initial shlokas or verses that too because I had committed these to memory. Sanskrit for us was a far cry because even our parents gave more prominence to English only. They would say that Sanskrit would be of no use in later years.
I was looking like a lamb towards them both. The agent with the phone explained, "See dear, we have no axe to grind. We did what we were asked to do. Now let us show this paper to the Arbiter god and ask him about the future course of action." Now it was my turn to get rigid. I told him, "Look I am not going to take even one more step. You have to approach him go ahead. I shall wait for you here itself." They allowed me to sit down and went to see the god. I took time to look around and all that was happening was quite grotesque. I prayed to Shri Krishna! "Please give me protection henceforth. I may have my failings but your name is tagged with mine. If something wrong happens to me you will also get a bad name. People will say that Krishna was taken to the hell."
My prayers were perhaps heard. After a while both these agents were coming towards me smilingly. They told me, "Look here, half the job is done for you. You owe a sum of eighty rupees still. But where will you get those? If you can pay this amount today itself we can take you to the heaven. Else you are where you are." I had no money with me. I begged of them, "For God’s sake, do me a favour and lend me this amount. You see in the heaven I am sure to meet some rich acquaintance of mine. I will get this money from him and then repay you the amount." They replied, "Where is the money? Do you think anybody gets his pay here on time? Believe us, it is three months now that we have not been paid our salary. You think that we are enjoying here. We only know the reality of our life at this place." I was puzzled and asked them, "Don’t you have a budget prepared here? Where does the money go?’ They sighed and replied, "Of course we have a budget here as well but the amount is entirely spent on the T.A. and D.A. of the gods."
"What sort of T.A. and D.A.?" I asked with bewilderment. They explained, "You see they plan trips to the Earth and the plane below the earth very frequently along with their retinue. They do not stay there long but it takes a lot of time coming and going to these places. That costs a lot and leaves hardly any money for us. We have to tolerate all this silently because there is no other way. We do not have High Courts and Supreme Court like you have on the earth. Here the word of the gods is the rule, a final rule at that."
Listening to all this gave me a chill down the spine. I thought at this rate we have a heaven on our earth itself. Even if a person shouts for a short distance there, dozens of people will enquire of him what the matter is. Position here is quite the opposite. We have not seen any situation like this. On the earth stoppage of the salary for a day will drag the authorities to the courts.
However, this was not the time to discuss all this. It was time to arrange for eighty rupees. So I addressed the agent with the phone, who was senior of the two, "Please treat me like your younger brother. Why not you take me to that birch tree. May be the cobra has left the place by now and I am able to snatch the treasure. You could even strike a deal with me. I will take half the amount and you can keep the remaining half. If you apprehend that I may escape, you can even tie my legs." This did not work. They told me that once a person is in that world it is not possible to revert to the earth. I begged of them to find a way out for me. After all, the amount of twenty rupees paid by me should not get wasted.
He consulted the other agent and then took out his phone from the pocket and spoke to someone. The expression on his face indicated that the matter was in my favour. After sometime he put his phone back in his pocket and then told me, "There is a way out. If you have ever paid some money to some beggar or a needy person without making a fuss, that can be credited to your account." I remembered that I had given a crisp hundred-rupee note to the mendicant who had given me the clue to the treasure. This secret I had divulged to nobody, as I did not want anyone to know about the treasure. I immediately told them, "Yes, I have. I have paid a good hundred rupees to that mendicant. But if you ask for a receipt I cannot produce one because I have not obtained the same from him."
The agent again had a telephonic conversation and then nodded his head. He told me, "You are very lucky. This is the only act of kindness, which you have done but not bragged about before any one. You have got its fruit now. Come let us take you to the heaven.
We were about to walk towards heaven that there was a commotion behind us. Some known persons chanced to spot me from the hell. They came running towards me and touched my feet. They told me, "We are here alone and forlorn. You are the only one who can console us here. Please do not leave us and proceed to heaven. Stay with us. We were party to every good and bad of yours on the earth. Why should you turn your head away on seeing us now?" Gokul also was among them. It was the same Gokul whose possession and property I had usurped back on earth. He was rather more enthusiastic.
I thought if I pay any heed to their saying, I shall lose this golden opportunity of going to heaven. With great difficulty I earned an entry to heaven and here they are spoiling my chances. "Friends, I owe you nothing. Whatever account there had been between us, that stands settled on the earth itself. Better you leave me alone and go your way." I addressed them in an appealing manner, "I do not know you, why are you pestering me for nothing? Go and attend to your own chores." I signalled the agents to proceed towards heaven speedily. They caught hold of my arm and started flying up. Alas my bad luck, I was about to move forward that Gokul held me by my leg and pulled me down. I got tossed on to the stone wall and bruised my head badly.
With this bang I woke up. I observed that my mother was holding my leg and waking me. She was saying, "Get up, are you not going for a circumambulation to Hari Parbat? You are late. Your friends have been waiting for you for quite sometime now."
|*M.K.Raina (MKR) is a civil engineer by profession and has been inclined to write short stories and poetry in Kashmiri since his college days. He is also fascinated by Kashmiri literature especially old classics, which he is trying to rew-write in Devanagari-Kashmiri for the net. In addition to his own works, MKR has put a plethora of Kashmiri literature of other authors on net (www.mkraina.com) after re-writing it in Devanagari-Kashmiri. MKR's self-authored and published material include 'Basic Reader for Kashmiri Language', 'tsok modur' - a collection of 6 short stories in Kashmiri, 'kenh non, kenh son' - a collection of 5 short stories in Kashmiri, and 'Pentachord' - a collection of 5 short stories in English. He has co-authored Information Digest Series of Project Zaan and has also developed a Work Book for reading & writing Kashmiri in Devanagari script.
MKR was till recently editor of 'aalav' published from Bangalore and 'Milchar' published from Mumbai. He is currently the editor of monthly 'här-van', the net-journal of Project Zaan. MKR was instrumental in development of Akruti-Kashmiri-Arinimal software for writing Kashmiri in Standardised Devanagari Script in association with Cyberscape Multimedia Ltd. MKR hails from Chhattabal, Srinagar, Kashmir. Post-exodus, he is settled in Mumbai.
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We have always been proud of you. Your writings inspire us a lot.
Added By Suresh Palve
A nice allegorical tale. Finally the account has to be esttled here. In fact heaven and hell are very much here.
Added By Kundan Chowdhury