‘So, what’s it going to be?’, he asked.
I sighed. Well, I shouldn’t have driven so fast after all.
‘I need to think. Can I have a minute?’
‘Sure. But not too long’, he pointed his dark fingers at me and warned me.
It was confusing. I didn’t know if there was anything hidden beneath this whole ‘deal’ thing. And I couldn’t rely on any past experiences either. It’s not every day that you get to make a deal with Death himself.
I don’t remember much about what happened. I had a bit of work to finish at the office and when I got off it was night already. I was rushing home because it was raining heavily and my son was home alone. I reached an intersection and I saw a pair of lights coming from my left charging at me.
Then, it was calm. I didn’t know anything.
Until I woke up in the backseat of my car, staring at the back of my own head. Sitting next to me was an uncomfortably swarthy figure, with a hideous face and no hair at all. As if amplifying the eeriness, there was a dark aura surrounding him. He had a sharp trident on his left hand. As he turned to address me, I nearly jumped out of the car. But then, the doors were locked.
‘Who are you?’, I asked cautiously studying him.
‘I thought you would have been able to figure out. Well, there’s another idiot. I, my young friend, am Death.’
I wondered why he would call me son.
‘So, I am dead?’, I asked. Fear was slowly conquering me. I noticed that my head was cut open and blood was oozing out dangerously from the wound.
‘That decision is entirely yours. Listen to me now. Only some people are lucky to meet me in person. I mean, dying is not lucky but still. So, for every single person who I go meet like this, I give them a chance; a chance to live again.’
Hearing this, my hopes went high up.
‘BUT’, he raised his finger. ‘It comes with a price. If you want to live again, you have to make a sacrifice. And that depends on the deal I am putting in front of you. Obviously, the deal varies from person to person and depends on the age and the circumstances when he/she dies.’
I was becoming sceptical with each word he spoke.
‘I have the perfect deal for you too, Mr. Brent. I guess one part of the deal is pretty obvious, you get to be with your son again. However, if you are going back to live then you won’t be living it like you used to. You will be bedridden for the rest of your life, unable to move of your own will. Now, since I have put forth both your options, it is time to decide.’
Right in front of me was a huge dilemma. To begin with, I couldn’t digest the fact that I was dead even though I was maintaining composure outside.
‘If I chose to end my life now, does that mean I can never see my son again?’, I asked. I was worried only about my son. If he was safe, I would be pretty much relieved.
‘Not necessarily. Generally, all the souls get one day annually to come down here and see their loved ones or do whatever that pleases them. But the souls can in no way touch or contact them in anyway.’
It was a terrible situation. The very idea of death scared me and yet there I was, sitting shoulder to shoulder with death, with my own solid body bleeding so profusely that it will soon be a grotesque corpse if I don’t make my choice. The only thing I had to consider was my son’s future. If I go back to him as a cripple, it will only affect his life adversely. All his life would be spent taking care of me. I will be the one preventing him from soaring high. He will be better off alone than with a wretched half-dead body for a dad. Then again, we had distant family members. They will take care of him.
‘I choose death’, I said in a curt voice.
‘Are you sure? Because you can’t reverse the decision once you made it. This is no child’s play.’
‘I know what I am doing. Just take my life.’
‘Very well,’ he said rubbing his arms.
‘Can you do me a favour and make sure my son is going to be safe once I am gone?’, I asked in a pleading note.
‘That, my boy, is not within my power to decide. But judging by what I have seen all these eons, I think your kid is going to live, and that too a longer life than you.’
I was happy to hear that he is going to be safe. With that, my life on earth came to an end. I was sent to the void. I realized Afterlife wasn’t much of an interesting thing as books and movies portrayed them. My life after death was just floating around in darkness. Millions of souls were floating with me in this ethereal nothingness and altogether it was really numbing. There wasn’t a moment I didn’t regret choosing death. But regrets didn’t matter. As a matter of fact, nothing mattered anymore.
Except the day I was waiting for.
I was ushered into the Human World by Death himself. In a few minutes, we reached our home. There was a boy of about 11 standing outside, repairing his bicycle. I looked at Death inquiringly. As if he was expecting it, he nodded and replied, ‘That is your son’.
He had changed a lot. He had long hair and the chubbiness was gone. His eyes were sunken and hands bruised. I was taken aback by seeing all these changes and yet, the thing that puzzled me more was the fact that he was still living in our old house, with no one else to look after him. But all the answers hit me in the next minute. A very familiar voice was calling out to him from the inside. An intriguingly familiar voice. I didn’t have to wait much to know who it was. I wished I never came back.
There in the threshold of our house, slumped in a wheelchair was the kid’s dad. Me.
I looked at the thing that was on the wheelchair for a long time. It was impossible. I had died. I looked at Death in disbelief.
‘I know what you are thinking’, he said calmly. If I am not mistaken, I had told you that there are other people who get offers from me too. And just like you wanted your son to be safe, I give occasional favours to some people. The soul that has occupied your body is that of a criminal. He didn’t mind living as a handicapped guy. All he wanted was to live as a different person so that he won’t be targeted again. As the God of Death, I have to be impartial. There is no room for emotions or justice here. I don’t think I need to apologise’, he said, keeping a straight face.
I looked at my son helplessly. As he ran back to the rascal on the wheelchair, I realized the reason for all those marks on his body. I heard the criminal shouting something at him and then smacking his face. I just stood there staring at them, knowing perfectly that I was responsible for whatever was happening to him. What I wanted to prevent through my death only went back to him and made his life worse.
I don’t know what is going to happen to him. I didn’t want to know, because what I saw was enough to haunt my afterlife for the years to come. I needn’t see again. I had a whole day ahead of me to see my son. But I won’t be able to take in what that guy is doing to my son in the pretense of being me.
This must be my first and my last visit.
I am never coming back.