“It’s too early for you to come here, Manasbi.”
“Where am I?” I quizzed myself as I looked around the place but did not see any buildings in my field of vision.
“That is why I told you that you ought not to be here,” an old man who was at the entrance of the big gate shrugged off his shoulders.
“Excuse me, do I know you? You just called out my name.” I asked the gatekeeper.
“Uff. Another boring question. That’s what everyone asks me when they come here only for them later to realize that there’s a name tag around their neck to identify themselves,” the man said.
I looked down and there it was: my name tag. It had stated all my personal information but something in it caught my attention. It had stamped my death date!
“Hey, why is there a date of death in my tag?” I questioned.
“Coz you are dead, idiot. You just haven’t realized it yet.”
“Oh, there you are. We have been searching for over ten hours to meet you. It’s such a relief!” a voice echoed as I saw a silhouette of a young man and an old man in the distance. The clouds were so surreal and full of sparkle that it looked like Disney had embellished the place.
I moved towards the shadows. Every step that I took surged an anticipation of oneness. My breath grew heavy as everything that I heard earlier did not make any sense. It was just a while back that I was dating this blond girl in the cafeteria and I didn’t even have the faintest idea how I ended up here in such a small time frame.
“In case you are wondering, welcome to HEAVEN. Been a long time since we last met, huh, pal?” the figure in front of me greeted.
“Ap….aa…..rrr…..???!!!” I tried desperately to call out his name as I couldn’t believe I was meeting him here in heaven.
“K chha Manasbi? Ahem, ahem,” I heard another shadow coughing in the distance as he slowly appeared in sight.
I immediately reached for his foot as I took a blessing from my grandfather.
“K chha tero haalkhabar?” my grandfather asked.
“Thik chha. How did you guys know I was here?” I asked them.
“Come, we’ll take you to our residence,” Apar replied.
Well, I didn’t exactly know how the clocks of heaven worked and hence in no time I had reached my beloved grandfather’s and my friend’s residences.
“Manasbi, here’s the truth: you are dead!” Apar cleared the doubts in my mind.
“What are you saying?” I didn’t believe what he was saying.
“Let’s skip the details for a moment, shall we? Here, drink some water,” Apar said.
I slowly began to understand the lifestyle of the people living in heaven. My grandfather, for instance, sleeps five hours a day and then heads out for exercises everyday. He had already read most of the religious books that was available in the Heaven’s Library. Most of the time, he hanged out with his buddies and together, enjoyed their afterlives to the fullest.
As for Apar, he has made a routine to finish at least one book in a week and mostly indulges in watching Chelsea’s football games and Australian cricket as sources of entertainment. He also shared the happiness that he experienced when Australia were crowned the ICC World Cricket World Cup Champions of 2015 yesterday.
“It was a one sided match, and now I can’t wait to watch Kolkata Knight Riders play in the IPL” my friend noted who always gave a good analysis of the games he watched. “You know, I met your grandfather when our Chill Out club organized a one day interaction to spend some amazing time with old people. After I asked a couple of questions and started knowing him, I found out that you were his grandson. And then we have been hanging out ever since.”
My grandfather had learnt to play chess from Apar and garnered some knowledge on football and cricket. He came twice to closely beating my professional friend.
“You know, sometimes we play the paper cricket that we often played during our stay in Makalu House. And paper football, too,” Apar said. I noticed tears flowing from his eyes and in no time, I had mine, too.
“Ghartira ta sabai sanchai chhan hola kyare? Maile sabailai samjheko chhu bhandinu. Ta chai raamro sanga padnu ani naam uchha paarnu ni.” my grandfather sobbed as he found it difficult to control his emotions.
“Sabaijana sanchai hoisinchha, hajurbua. Maile hajurle bhaneko kura sadhai samjhinchhu. Ani sabailai hajursanga bhet bhayeko kura bhandinchhu. Tara ma ta marisakeko haina? Ani maile kasari bhannu ta?” I comforted my grandfather and questioned on the purpose he had been telling me all this.
“You aren’t dead yet,” Apar said, “Look down, a group of experienced doctors have successfully saved your life and in a while, you will be conscious. Maybe the gatekeeper had wished for the right thing to question your presence in the heaven so early. And, in the hospital, there are your families and close friends sitting outside to hear the good news.”
“But how did I end up in the hospital?”
“When you were dating that girl, your eyes turned towards a six year old boy who was about to get knocked down by a van coming from the opposite side as he tried to cross the road. You made your decision to save the boy and succeeded in the process. However, the van knocked you unconscious and there was little life left in you as you were taken to the hospital. We were immediately notified of your arrival to heaven. And the rest you know it.” Apar provided me with complete details of how I ended up here.
“Now, I remember some of the details.”
“Jaane bela bhaisakechha. La ta ni!” my grandfather bid me farewell.
“Look, you have got a second chance. Make the most of it. And tell all our friends that I miss them everyday. Goodbye, priya saathi.” Apar’s words were the last words that I heard before I slowly gained consciousness in the hospital.
“Tata, hajurbua. Bye, Apar.” By the time I wanted to say something, it was already inaudible. They understood my expression and seemed glad that I made their day. Next thing I knew, I was in the hospital bed cherishing the magical moment of my revival and desperate, as Apar said, to make the most of my life.
“Oh my god, he’s alive! Everyone, our prayers have been answered.”
All the people that I had treasured in my lives were there and were busy exchanging happiness. Their smiles were divine and perhaps unknown to them was the fact that I had met two of the best people in heaven.
PS: This post is dedicated to my grandfather and my friend, Apar.