The Moment Of Truth
January 4, 2011 4 Comments
‘Not yet. We’ve been tossing ideas around. Nothing jells.’
‘Let me give you a pointer that might be of help in making up your mind – I’m going beyond my brief when I tell you this.’
‘Tell me what is it?’
‘You’ve only some time to live.’
The silence was palpable and the mood suddenly turned for the somber.
He recovered to ask, ‘Oh… only this morning do you know so many of them gave us their blessings for a long and healthy life together.’
‘The words of ordinary mortals do not stand in the way of destiny.’
The daughter was more astute: ‘So, the work is cut out for you, it is quite simple – Appa’s wish is for you to stave off the end.’
‘That’s more than what I can do for you.’
‘Why, your second cousin brought the Pandavas back to life in a snap on that occasion?’
‘That wasn’t Kalyug.’
Meanwhile he appeared closer to reconciling himself to the inevitable: ‘…mmm…How much time?’
‘I’m sorry I cannot tell you.’
‘Did you say ‘helpful pointer’? Some help, it is.’
‘It is, if you worry about what happens now.’
‘Oh…yes, I’ve to write a will right away, thanks for reminding.’
‘That’s not what I meant. I was referring to what is going to happen to you thereafter.’
‘You mean after my death?’
‘Yes, you’ve, as I see, very little punyam to your credit as of date. Even that comes from the act of some gentleman in Delhi who fed, on your name, some orphans today. Punyam comes from doing good deeds voluntarily for the needy and helpless.‘
‘Why, I brought up the children as good citizens. They needed me. That doesn’t count for good deeds?’
‘Well, that was in the line of your duty as the head of the family.’
‘My wife goes to temple and does pooja every Saturday.’
‘That’s to her credit. In fact a share of your punyam goes to your wife and children and not the other way around. And also it is not exactly a good deed in the sense of helping the needy. The Gods don’t figure under the head of the needy and helpless.’
‘Oh…so that’s where you’re coming from.’
‘Yes, this is your chance to set the books in order for your own good.’
The wife finally found her voice: ‘What rotten luck? There go the tolas of gold.’
‘Amma, how could you worry about tolas of gold when Appa’s afterlife is in danger?’
She withdrew from the scene with: ‘You all do what you like – let me get the dinner warmed up. I hope you wind up soon.’
The daughter was ready with her solution: ‘I know what you should do, Appa. Ask sari’s and dhoti’s to be given to a hundred poor couples. That should get you buy you loads of punyam to see you in the heaven for a long time.’
The son was not impressed: ‘You’re quite unlike Chanakya this time, dearie. You sound more like these simple-minded politicians who can think only of such cheap tokenism to alleviate poverty and grab attention without fixing issues at the root.’
‘Anna, you are far off the mark. You forget our suggestions are for Appa to score enough punyam for himself and not eradicate poverty from the face of Mother Earth.’
The Yaksha intervened: ‘It won’t work. I can grant only you a wish. I’ve nothing to do with others poor or otherwise.’
‘Dad, come to my room right now.’ The voice floated from the bedroom.
‘I’m coming, dear.’ The son marched away responding to the call.
‘Appa, you talk it over with Yaksha while I take this call,’ the preemptory ring on her mobile had to be attended.
The Yaksha pressed: ‘So, what would it be? I hate to rush you, but…’
He stood there pensive, all by himself. The Moment of Truth always finds one without company.
After a minute he straightened himself up, lifted his head and turning away from the Yaksha to the front declared: ‘Those folks out there didn’t need one, neither do I. Thank you.’
Before the lights went out for the last time, a hint of a smile could be seen on the Yaksha’s face.
And the curtains came down on the skit to a thunderous applause from ‘those folks’ – the occasion was ‘Donor’s Day’ to help polio affected children.