I am an uninvited guest yet the undeniable truth. Everyone expects me but nobody is ready to accept me. But I go about doing my job to strike a balance in this world. I am Death.
It was like any other day. I was given the profile of the soul that I had to collect. Rashi Agarwal, a 26-year-old doctor. What an irony! The person who saves others’ life will die today. According to the blueprint forwarded on my tab by the higher-ups, she was supposed to die after being hit by a truck on the way to her hospital.
I usually appear before my victim the way they assume I would look like. The oldies see me as a heavily-built man with a bushy mustache, carrying a rope in one hand and a club in other, accompanied by my friend, the buffalo. The new generation is inspired by horror flicks so I appear before them as the Grim Reaper with a sickle-like spear in hand and ragged clothes. For those who don't reside in fantasies, I appear to collect their souls in plain clothes just like any other human being.
Today I decided to transform myself into a young handsome man as I was going to pluck a beautiful flower in its prime youth. At least I could entertain her till I had transported her to the divine court that was to decide her fate after death. Instead of my usual Rolls Royce ghost, I decided to take my Harley Davidson, to create an impression.
I drove to the hospital and waited for her to come. I saw Rashi walking down the opposite footpath. She looked tensed and was in a hurry. The truck too was on its way. I looked at my Rolex watch, just five minutes to go. Rashi was in the middle of the road, and as destined the truck driver lost control and hit her. The impact of the hit was such, she was thrown feet away. Soon people gathered around her, screaming for help.
I started my bike and got ready to zoom away with her soul, but Rashi doesn’t come. As per the plan she was supposed to die on spot and appear before me in seconds. After waiting for a while, I decided to check what was taking so long. I made my way through the crowd. Rashi was lying there in a pool of blood wringing in pain, struggling to stay conscious. She had a lot of internal injuries along with a deep head injury that was bleeding profusely. But her soul was not ready to leave the body. It was fighting hard to stay back.
I went and knelt beside her, as a sign to tell her soul that I am here, it’s time to go. Suddenly she clasped my hand and looked at me. “Can you please give me some more time?” she asked softly. Those pleading eyes were sincere and captivating. I knew she wouldn’t leave so easily and there is nothing worse than a disgruntled soul. I got carried away from my purpose and decided to deviate from my original plan.
Without losing another moment, I picked up Rashi and rushed to the hospital. There a nurse looked at me and Rashi in horror. “Don’t just stand there, get some help,” I screamed. Soon she brought a stretcher and a doctor, who examined her. "She has lost a lot of blood and there are several internal injuries," he said. "But please do something and save her. She is also one of you," I pleaded. The doctor ordered an urgent surgery. I wheeled her to the operation theatre. "Stay here. We have informed the police. They might need you during the investigation," a nurse said. I nodded.
As I waited outside the OT, I got a call. I knew what was waiting for me. When I entered the gates of heaven, there was utter chaos among the gods, I saw Chitragupta glaring at his laptop and scrambling through the records. The king of gods, Indra was very miffed with me and chided me over my irresponsibility. He said his phone is flooded with messages demanding an answer for my action. He told me that the Tridevas wanted to meet me personally to know what happened.
In the same blood-soaked shirt, I appeared before them. Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva didn’t look very pleased either. But Lord Vishnu sat there calmly with his eyes closed in contemplation and the quintessential smile on his lips
“What has happened Yama? How could you do this? Don’t you know whatever takes birth must die, then how did you decide that this girl should live longer than her allotted time, even if it is for 10 minutes? Don’t you know this will ruin the balance of the world?” Lord Brahma asked.
“You are the god of righteousness and are known for your impartiality, then what happened today? I had entrusted this work on you because among all the gods you were the one most sincere towards your duty, not swayed by personal gains and selfishness. You have been delivering souls from the time life was born. Then what happened now? Were you smitten by that earthling or is it that you have lost faith in our rules?” thundered Lord Shiva. He was the most furious among all the three, as he was the destroyer of everything born on this earth and I reported to him.
Finally, Lord Vishnu who was calmly listening for so long said: “Oh lord of the dead, Yamaraj, please tell us why did you do this? I know that you will never act against the law of nature. You used your powers to partially heal her internal injuries that could have caused her instant death. So there must be some strong reason why you did this.”
The words of Lord Vishnu encouraged me to put my reasons before the Tridevas without any hesitation. “Oh Lords, I apologize for not consulting you before altering the life span of the girl. But I didn’t have the leisure to do so because once a life lost, could not be brought back. When I looked into her eyes, I expected to see the fear of impending death in it but instead what I found was the fear of not being able to complete something really important that….”
“But that is something that everything that dies has in it, the sense of leaving things incomplete and there is no end to it. Nobody wants to die,” Lord Shiva snapped.
“I know she was ready to accept me, I could see it and feel it. But there was something that was stopping her soul from departing, so I thought I could give her a chance. Maybe the task must be of great magnitude,” I said hanging my head down.
Lord Shiva was growing more furious. But as he was about to explode, Lord Vishnu intervened and said: “Okay, what’s done is done. We cannot take back the time that you have already given to the girl. We are ready to put in another 30 minutes. But if her soul still refuses to come with you after that, then you, Yamaraj, shall use your power to forcefully drag her soul here to face her fate. While you too shall be punished for misjudgment if we find that the deed for which the girl wanted to stay back was not worthy enough for her to be allowed to live longer. I hope others are okay with it?” Lord Shiva and Lord Brahma nodded in agreement.
As I headed back to the hospital, all the way I wished that the deed for which Rashi wanted to stay back should be really important. I was not afraid of the punishment, but my reputation was at stake and I did not want to fall in the eyes of Lord Shiva who had trusted me and handed this responsibility to me.
When I went to the OT where Rashi being operated, I found it was empty. “Can you please tell me where is Dr. Rashi?” I asked a nurse who was passing by. “She has been shifted to a room after the operation,” she said.
Rashi’s parents and some relatives were waiting outside the room. I saw the room door open and some policemen and few suited-booted men stepping out. The officers were holding some blood-covered documents that I remember Rashi was holding before the accident. The suited men looked tensed and they were anxiously discussing something with police as they walked away.
As soon as they left, a nurse came out running from the room and called out to a doctor who was talking to Rashi’s parents saying her pulse rate had dropped and her condition deteriorating. The doctor rushed in.
After a while, I saw the door open again. But this time Rashi stepped out of the room. She was smiling at me. I could see the happiness of fulfillment in her eyes. As she walked towards me, she looked at her weeping parents and sad relatives sitting outside. Her smile dimmed a little but she slowly whispered, "I love you all". As she came closer and stood in front of me she said, “I am ready to go now”.
I saw the doctor come out and tell Rashi’s relatives, "She was holding up so well till a few moments ago but she collapsed suddenly. Sorry, we could not save her.” There was an outburst of wails and cries as I left the hospital with Rashi’s soul.
I managed to deliver her soul well in advance before the given deadline. As Rashi was about to leave she turned back and said, “Thank you for everything. I know it must have been really difficult for you to take that decision.” It’s not every day that you get to hear a word of gratitude from a soul. In all the confusion, I only managed to say "Welcome" and I watched her vanish in the horizon. I was spared from the punishment and the Tridevas looked pleased with me but they didn't tell me what she was up to.
The next day I was on another assignment. As I waited for my prey, I decided to while away my time reading the day’s newspaper. The news on the very front page blew my mind away. The headline read, “Doctor saves millions before dying”. The story had a picture of Rashi along with it. As I read further, it said that Rashi had helped in uncovering a conspiracy that was going on at her hospital. Some doctors and hospital authorities were illegally breeding a deadly virus in their lab that they were planning to release in the city, causing millions of deaths and then selling its antidote for a huge amount to the government to curb the outbreak. Rashi had sneaked into the lab and collected information to implicate the guilty and yesterday she was on her way to submit the proofs when she met with the accident. But she managed to talk to the police and other officials before she died, thus helping the authorities catch the criminals red-handed and confiscate the virus. She was being hailed as a national hero.
“So this is what it was all about,” I thought and smiled. Now I understood why the higher-ups were happy and spared me from the punishment. While I was proud of Rashi for what she had done and I realized that day why death fell for life.