Friday, October 17, 2014

Morbid Curiosity

Amar got down from the office cab on the main road. He decided to walk to his apartment from the main road. It was late. The road was deserted barring few street dogs. Bangalore dogs were known for their notoriety. He was cautious. He kept walking, whistling tunes to himself. As he kept walking he saw a guy sitting on a compound wall. He was strangely dressed. A long black robe with a hood and a rope tied around his waist.

"Weirdo", Amar thought.

He ignored him and kept walking past him. As he kept walking, whistling and kicking the odd stones on the road he suddenly saw the same guy sitting on another compound wall ahead of him. Amar turned around to see the compound wall where he was sitting previously. No one there.

"What the hell!", he said to himself.

The guy in the black robe started staring at Amar. Amar was a little freaked now. He started walking briskly and tried to look away from him. After a few brisk paces Amar realised that the guy was now following him. Walking at the same pace as him. Amar thought that he could either start running or turn around and punch the guy in the face.

"Okay, punching might not be such a good idea", he thought.

He decided to confront him. He stopped, turned around and walked towards the guy. The guy stood motionless.

"What's your problem, man. Why are you following me?", Amar asked as he stood at arms length from the guy, deciding to throw a punch even at the slightest provocation.

The guy looked around and said, "Are you talking to me?"

"Do you see anyone else? Yes, you dumbass. I'm talking to you", Amar retaliated.

"You mean, you can see me?", the guy asked, surprised.

"Oh sorry! I didn't know you were wearing an invisibility cloak", Amar smirked.

"This is... unexpected", the guy said, and continued, "Do you know who I am?"

"Yeah. A freak who wears creepy dress and follows strangers on the road."

"Whoa! Hold on. This is weird. This never happens usually. Let me introduce myself to you first. I am Death", the guy said with a pleasant smile.

"What?! Is this some kind of prank? You want to share this on Youtube and get likes and shit?", Amar said, now furious.

"Ok. I think we got off a bad start here. Let me make it clear to you. I'm 'The Death'. Well, the personification of death to be exact."

"Yeah right. And I'm Batman. Nice to meet you", Amar said and started walking away.

"You don't believe me, do you?"

"Yes. What gave you the clue?"

"But, I am death. What would make you believe me?"

"Ok, mister. Lets play this game. You want me to believe that you are death, right? Then, for starters, you can prove it to me."

"If I have to prove it you, I'd have to kill you. That would defeat the entire purpose of proving it to you."

"Yeah. Personification of death afraid of killing people. That just proves it."

"I'm not afraid of killing you. It's just that it's not your time, yet", Death said, looking straight into Amar's eyes.

"Ok, you have my attention. Whatever game you're playing, it better be good", Amar said, now curious.

"This is not any game. I'm Death. I follow people in their final moments. And when their time is up, I take their lives.", Death said, with a glint in his eyes, literally.

"Does that mean I'm going to die now?", Amar asked, quiet frankly.

"Not now. But tonight. This usually never happens. The dying person sees me only after their life has left their body. You're an exception."

"You still have to prove to me that you are death, though", Amar said, managing a faint smile.

"Sure", Death said and drew a big circle on the ground. "Step inside. And be careful, do not touch me. Anything that comes in contact with me, dies", Death said.

As soon as Amar stepped inside everything became hazy. As though they were in the clouds. Death moved its hand in front of them in a clearing fashion. The fog disappeared. They were staring at a little girl.

"Her name is Xia Cheng. Terminal cancer. She was diagnosed with glioblastoma when she was 8. The tumor was surgically removed and she was on medication. Everyone thought the worst was over. That she was going to have a long, relatively healthy life. But the cancer recurred. And now she is going to die", Death said. As they watched, another person with a black robe who looked like the Death appeared beside Xia. As she breathed her last breath a light rose out of her. The other Death captured it and put it in a pouch and disappeared.

"Was that you?" Amar asked.

"Yes, another manifestation."

"Another manifestation?"

"It's all bit complicated. You won't understand."

"Try me."

"You couldn't even solve a third order linear differential equation. Trust me, you won't get it", Death said, in a matter of fact tone.

Death moved his hand again. The haze cluttered for sometime and cleared again. They stood looking at a road.

"In 2 minutes two cars are going to clash head-on here. In one car, there is one Mauricio Gonzales, 38yrs old, survived by his wife and two daughters. He is on his way to home after a long tiring night of work. Trying to catch a glimpse of his daughters before they leave for school. In the other car there is 19yr old Sarah Diaz. Returning hung over after a night of booze, party and wild sex. And one of them is going to die."


"Lets find out."

Sarah's head kept whirling while she was driving. She had scant memories about last night. Everything was a blur. She sipped her coffee and checked her phone for all the messages and calls she missed, when suddenly she dropped her phone and then the coffee spilled while she tried to catch her phone. She lost her concentration and started steering into the opposite lane while she scrambled for her phone. Mauricio tried his best to avoid the car that was coming the opposite direction. He held the steering wheel tight when he realised the clash was imminent. The cars clashed. Metal tore and twisted and the glass shattered. The cars rolled and landed on their side and up. The traffic came to a halt on either side. People started running towards the cars to help the people out. Both Mauricio and Sarah lay motionless. Sarah bled everywhere from her body while blood dripped from Mauricio's head, held upside down in his seat by his seat belt. People pulled out both of them. Both of them were not breathing. A guy started performing CPR on Sarah. Mauricio had a rod pierced right through his heart. Sarah suddenly coughed and gasped for breath. Someone checked the pulse on Mauricio. He was dead. They moved away. Few started sobbing. A man in a black robe appeared and caught the rising ball of light and put it in a pouch. He looked at Amar and Death, smiled and disappeared.

"Is this proof enough?" Death asked.

"Yes. This is enough", Amar said, now a little down.

"Step out of the circle", Death said.

Amar stepped out and they were back to the place they were.

"So what next? Are you going to kill me?", Amar asked, looking straight into Death's eyes.

"Don't be silly. I don't kill people. They die. I'm here for the after work", Death said, nonchalantly.

"So how long do I have?", Amar asked.

"A little while more."

"Then I'd like to take care of few things before I go", Amar said.

"You look pretty strong and composed for a person who knows he is going to die in a short while."

"Well, everyone dies. Some early, some late. But it is inevitable. So I guess there is no use in making a big fuss out of it. Also the dead don't feel pain, it is the living that suffer. I'm not worried or scared about my death, it is the thought of the people who have to deal with my death that affects me."

"Wiser words were never been spoken", Death said. They both smiled.

Amar went to his apartment while Death followed him. He turned on the laptop. He pulled out a file with numerous documents from his draw. He went through them. He picked few of them and started composing a mail with various information from the documents - his insurance, EPF, investments, savings account details and others. He hit send. It was mailed to his father.

He picked his phone and went to the contacts. 'Home', it read. He called the number. It was late. He was not sure if anyone would pick up. As he was about to hang up someone picked up the phone and said, "Hello", groggily.


"Amar? It's so late. What are you doing till now. Haven't you slept?"

"I just returned from office. I sent you a mail. Thought I would call and inform you."

"Mail? Is it something important? Do you want me to check it now?"

"No, Dad. It's ok. Check it in the morning. Nothing important."

"Go to bed soon. It's late. Don't spoil your health."

"Yeah. I will now. Is mom asleep?"

"Yes. She wasn't feeling well. She took some pills and fell asleep a while ago. Do you want me to wake her up?"

"No. Don't trouble her. Let her sleep. Tell her that I love her when she wakes up."

"Is everything ok, Amar? You sound low."

"Don't worry, Dad. Everything's fine. I'm a little tired. Also I miss you guys."

"Alright. I will ask your mom to call you in the morning."

"Ok, Dad. Go back to sleep. Good night. Take care."

"Good night, Amar", said the voice on the other end.

Amar hung up the phone. He choked up and tears started rolling down.

"Not so wise and strong now, are you?" Death said, mockingly.

Amar cleared his throat, took a deep breath and wiped his tears. He went through the contacts again. Suma, it read. He called the number.

"Girlfriend?" Death asked. Amar nodded yes.

The phone kept ringing but she didn't pick the call. He called her again. Still no response.

"Love is not there when you need it the most?" Death asked.

"She wakes up early so she sleeps early. And puts her phone on the silent mode sometimes. Also love is not just about being there all the time. It's about being there when it matters the most. And she has always been there for me when it mattered."

"So your death doesn't matter?"

"It does. But she is not you. She doesn't know that I'm about to die."

Amar decided to leave her a text.

"Hey, beautiful. Good morning. By the time you read this I will be gone. Some place far. I will not be able to pick your call or talk to you. I'm gonna miss you. You are everything that I could've asked for, and more. Thanks for always being there for me. Love you." He sent the message.

He put the phone down on the bed.

"Do we still have time?" Amar asked.

"How long do you need?" Death asked.

"Long enough for a short walk."

"Sure. Why not?", said Death and shrugged.

Amar pulled out a cigarette from a small box in his draw.

"You smoke?" Death asked.

"No. Smoking kills. But I guess it's ok now. Actually I watched a movie in which a guy kept a cigarette with him at all times but never smoked it. He saved it for one last smoke. I thought it was cool. I thought I will smoke one if at all my death is certain and there was nothing I can do about it. You know, like if there was a nuclear explosion or I got cancer or something or if I meet Death and have a talk with him", said Amar and smiled.

"Still some spirit left in you, after all."

"Hey, dying doesn't mean I shouldn't have my share of fun", Amar said and lit the cigarette.

"Shall we take that walk now?" Death asked.


"After you", Death said showing the way.

They started walking in silence. Amar finished his cigarette.

"So, how am I going to die?" Amar asked.

"And I was afraid you'd never ask", Death said and smiled.

"I thought I'd just leave it. But my curiosity got the better of me."

"Why do you want to know? You are going to die anyway. Knowing how you are going to die doesn't change anything. You're not going to suffer more or less. You are going to die. Nothing matters anymore", Death said.

"C'mon. Not many know when they are going to die, but I know. Nothing is usual or expected with my end. In your own words, I'm going to die. Nothing matters. So why does it matter if I know how am I going to die? Just one last favour, please", Amar pleaded.

"Ok, let the world say that death did you a favour. You come late from office. You pass Death on your way. You talk to him. You ask Death to prove itself to you. It proves. You know this is the end. You get things in order. And then you take a walk with Death. You get curious and ask Death how you're going to die while standing right where you went past Death. When Death reveals how are going to die, a stray bullet hits you in the head, killing you instantly", Death said...

When a stray bullet hits Amar's head and he drops dead.