Meandering Souls: Locked in a death nap

3 (Continued)

“W-what …who are you?” Amara mumbled; her throat dry.

The woman smiled. “It wasn’t your time then. But now, it is, Rainbow child.”

Rainbow child—the words rumbled through Amara’s mind like a breeze that was swiftly turning into a gale rustling through the crowns of fuming trees. How could she be this, this, ‘Rainbow child’? whatever the heck that meant.

“I don’t believe you,” said Amara. I think I do, but there has to be a catch.

“Where are you going to take me?” asked Amara. All of a sudden, she was tired. Tired of her existence, tired of the strange dream she was having, tired of this world that swallowed every ounce of her spirit into its dark depths. All she wanted to do was sleep. She wouldn’t mind if she never woke up.

“To the place where you belong, to Mother,” the woman said. She almost sounded kind. It surprised Amara, but then, it wasn’t the first surprise she had that evening nor would it be the last.

Revika let out a deep sigh. Here in this world, they had stories that were often based on gallant assumptions that there will always be a happy ending. There often is a happy ending, more times than people would think. But what most fail to believe is the possibility of a happy ending after death. Of course, that’s not always true, not for everyone. She had recently escorted a terrific number of mortals who took their own life in the hopes of having a happy end. Almost all of them ended up as douls in the vast nothingness of the void. Who deserved to have a good end and who did not? Who deserved to live and who was fated to die? Most curiously, who was fated for a happy end after death? Revika did not know. She was only a minor employee to the Universe. Yama might know, even though he’d never tell. “If you really want to know, you’ll find out,” he had said when Revika bugged him with her queries once, not too long ago.

“Where do I belong?”

Amara’s enquiry shook Revika out of her trance.

“In the Five kingdoms,” said Revika.

“Where is that?” Amara asked.

“I can show you in a moment,” said Revika.

To be continued

Meandering Souls: Locked in a death-nap

3 (Continued)

Revika’s thoughts went back to the job in hand. Amara had come to her senses, slowly at first, before jumping up straight. She looked stupefied, jerking her head to the left and the right, trying to understand her surroundings. Finally, she turned her gaze at the flashily dressed girl who squatted on the ground near her. Her skeptical brown eyes squinted and her mouth drew into a thin line.

Revika eased her shoulders as she sat down on the grass. She patted a spot next to her. “Sit.”

Amara recalled the way a woman in a long white dress and a white hood had talked to her once. That was a long time ago. Nobody talked to her that nicely anymore, and she was conscious that this person shouldn’t either—unless she had an ulterior motive. She was after all, just a nobody who lived in the streets. Everybody has ulterior motives. Nobody is nice to anybody for fun, especially to a grime-stained, crusty-haired hobo like her who had nothing to offer back. “If you are here for my kidneys, you should know that I almost bit and clawed a full-grown man to death once.”

“That mortal you mentioned,” said Revika, “made a seven-inch slit on your back.” She paused for a second, staring into the commotion that now filled those charcoal-black eyes. “But you woke up just in time, didn’t you, Amara?” said Revika. Her face betrayed no emotion. “You woke up just in time, little girl, you want to know why?”

Amara gaped at her, astounded, stupefied. She closed her open jaw when the strain on her cracked lips made them painful. She felt the metallic taste of blood on her tongue. How can you possibly know that?

She had scraped her palm on a protruding iron splinter on the railing. Revika folded her arms and stood with the composure of an insurance agent who knew she had secured a deal.

“You woke up, bit him on his dirty hands, clawed his evil face and made a dash for the unlocked door. You were facilitated by the fact that he had slipped on the bathroom floor which gave you enough time to make your escape. But they were just random spontaneous events, little girl, they were spontaneous events that I created,” Revika deadpanned.

To be continued

Meandering Souls: Locked in a death-nap


Lately, her master Yama had taken to poetry quite alarmingly, like the old rajah she had escorted to the gates some years ago. The rajah wasn’t an actual rajah, but he was an old man who had too much wealth and not much to call family. He had a lonely life and around a hundred people hopping about the big house where he lived. He often made them listen to his absurd poetry and they practically drowned him in praise. “Bohot barhiya!” “Shabaash!” “Lazawab!” “Bravo!” “Wonderful!” “Sir, you have a gift” – and what not. Love of life. Drives people to outrageous feats. What’s a little flattery?

Yama was deeply devoted to the Mother. She was an entity who lived deep in the woods of Palomera and governed over all five kingdoms from there through messages sent to her trusted officials, Yama being one of them. Her messages were always written in simple verse that often turned out to have several interpretations. It was said that the noble would know which interpretation would work best for the cause of harmony. But they were still nothing short of puzzles. Revika felt the soft weight of the crisp parchment roll in one of the deep pockets of her loose trousers. It contained a message from the Mother, given to Revika by Yama.

It was for the bearer, some boy from the mortal realm that Yama had made her stalk for three days. He was quite the regular mortal—eating, sleeping, working, grumbling. He had a good home but he rarely had a good temperament. Either he brooded for hours behind his computer or sulked on the front couch. He had pretty eyes, though. They were big and lustrous like a cow or a bullock. But pretty eyes are quite useless if you don’t have a pretty mind to pair it with. Revika believed that the boy was pretty much useless. But Yama needed a person in a coma. His records showed that the boy would be in one soon. That and the boy’s peculiar obsession for writing ridiculous stories that nobody wanted to read—made him almost a tailored-fit for the job. She had read one of his stories. It was about a bunch of elves living inside a person’s gut for heaven’s sake! What was the name—Revika snorted, trying to recall—ah, The Kapatika Chronicles. The parasite chronicles. Huh. He would know. He was after all, a parasite in his own home.

In her arms, Amara was coming back to consciousness. Revika hoped she wouldn’t freak out too much. The convincing part of her job was the part of her job she hated.

To be continued

Meandering Souls: Locked in a death nap

2 (Continued)

“So, what’s it about?” Amara asked, somewhat awkward.

“What?” the woman asked.

“Your book…what is it about?”

“Ah…my book…it’s about people. It could be about you, young lady”

I had to huff at that. Hadn’t they just established that it wouldn’t be about Amara?

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” said the woman, “But I find people to be very interesting—you in particular, young lady”

“How am I interesting?”

The woman gave Amara a knowing smile. “Because you have things you don’t tell anyone”

It was Amara’s turn to be taken off-guard. She froze at her spot, stuttering as she said, “You know nothing”

“Of course, I don’t. But when you have spent enough time in this world, nothing surprises you much, young lady, you just look and you know.”

The air was thick with tension. The droplets on Amara’s forehead were visible to Revika.

“Well I’ll be off then,” said the woman after a while, almost singing the words. “You don’t want bananas, how about a good old chocolate?”

Revika thought she’d refuse but she didn’t. The woman trotted away in her nimble little feet, leaving Amara to stare once again at the river below. The river seemed to be singing in its own sad song, singing of mystery and confusion, in a tongue that only a lonesome soul would understand.

Revika was methodical and determined. She watched as the woman was out of sight and started moving briskly towards the girl who stood alone under the streetlamp. A click of her fingers was all it took. Amara had dropped off, a bundle of lean limbs and shabby clothes. A swarm of flies buzzed overhead for a bite of yellow light. Their soft clamor joined the river’s murmur, creating a soothing lullaby.

“Let’s get going, shall we?” whispered Revika, picking her up.


To be continued.

Meandering Souls: Locked in a death-nap

2 (Continued)

At length, she appeared. Amara. I knew it had to be her. She looked exactly like her description. I took a step forward. But then I stopped.

There was a woman with her. They were having a conversation.

The woman was elderly, probably in her mid to late sixties. She looked like one of those chatty old ladies you meet in the market, holding a big shopper filled with grocery to twice its capacity and frivolously chiding a used-to-it-on-a-daily-basis vendor over the ridiculous price-hike of eggs or okra.

I concentrated on my hearing, trying find out what they were talking about.

“Do you want a banana, child? I have bananas here in my bag,” the woman was saying. Odd people everywhere.

“I don’t want bananas,” the girl, Amara was saying. She had a slightly gruff voice for a girl, I noticed.

“You don’t sound like a girl,” the woman said, “you don’t quite look like one either.”

“These are girl’s clothes I’m wearing, aren’t they?” the kid said with a hint of annoyance.

I stifled a smile. Back in the day, I loved to dress up in my brother’s clothes and play cricket and—

Brother? When did I ever have a brother? I had barely ever seen a match of cricket being played. They were not a part of the world where I belonged. I must be fantasizing again.

This girl though, I thought, she seemed to love being in her own skin even in such a young age, it almost seemed like she was trying to convince the woman that she was a girl even with her throaty voice and boyish looks.

“Yeah I can see that,” the woman said, “your frock is quite tattered though. Doesn’t that bother you?”

I shook my head, a silent spectator. I am not surprised. Most elderly people come off as quite the judgmental pricks.

The kid didn’t say anything to that. She ran a hand through her crisp brown mop of hair and sighed in an exasperated way, staring at the river whispering under the bridge. At length, she turned to the woman and looked at her, deadpan.

“If you can’t give me a new dress, don’t mock the one I’m wearing,” she said.

She’s good with words, but then, most teenagers are, I thought.

It seemed to have caught the woman off-guard. A wave of surprise brushed across her face for a split second like a tide that broke before it became too high.

What did she expect to hear anyway?

The surprise was quickly replaced by a smile. It didn’t quite reach her eyes.

“I suppose I appear like one of those old housewives who have nothing better to do than to judge young people, criticize the government, spread gossip about the neighborhood…I’m sorry if I am being annoying. I just felt like talking to someone. I have a little girl like you.”

“It’s okay. You can go on your way now,” Amara said quietly.

“Ah…I presume now I am coming off as a kidnapper of sorts, huh?”


“I understand”

“I am almost fifteen, okay? I know that’s not too much to boast of, but I have learned enough about people not to trust them. Especially the nice ones,” Amara said. 

“Especially the nice ones,” the woman repeated.

“You should give up now. It’s been three days”

“Yes, but my chocolates don’t seem to be affecting you”

“Fine, you aren’t trying to drug me,” Amara said, “Is that what you want to hear? You are a kind person but I don’t need your kindness. Leave me alone. Please.”

“And I am too weak to try to kidnap you,” the woman added.

Amara shrugged, saying nothing.

“I’m trying to write a book”

Amara lifted a brow in question at the wrinkle-ridden, tired looking woman in front of her. “I think they’re pretty hard to write. Takes long to write them too,” she said.

“Yeah, I should have started sooner. Well, better late than never!” the woman said, a bright smile lighting up her face.

Amara gave her a brief nod, not quite enticed. “I don’t want to end up in your book.”

“What made you think that? It was just a random thought,” the woman said, eyes twinkling. She was finally making decent conversation with Amara — I observed from my cover. Maybe that’s what she wanted the whole time. A lonely soul trying to have a friendly talk with another lonely soul.

Amara was silent. She might be thinking about the time a lady came to talk to her a couple of years ago. She said she was writing an article for some magazine. Once she got her to open up, she walked away never to return. I had found that little piece of information in her file.

“What happened to your daughter?” Amara asked the woman, changing the topic. The woman had put her overflowing shopper down and was now leaning onto the iron railing of the bridge.

“She is in a deep sleep. She had a rough time,” the woman said, her mouth drooping, her face grave. “But it’s okay, she’ll wake up as soon as I have finished writing my book. She nagged me for years— ‘write a book, ma, just write it,’ she would say–write about your university days, write about your marriage to dad. I deserve to read a book written by you’. I never found time then. Or maybe, I just didn’t have the courage. And now I am trying to be courageous and she’s sleeping soundly instead of cheering me on.”

They fell into a pregnant silence.

To be continued

Meandering Souls: Locked in a death nap

2 (Continued)

I’m supposed to meet her, a small human in her early teens, waiting on the bridge half a mile away and escort her to the void. Once there, she’ll have to prove for herself if she’s worth the fate she’s destined for. I’m not the grim reaper, in case you’re making guesses on that ground. The grim reaper is the Yama, God of death. I’m just one of the many disciples in his court. It’s my part to be grateful for being sheltered under his wing and it’s my job to take care of the responsibilities assigned to me to the best of my ability. That’s the purpose of my existence.

One day when I have done my share of duties, I would pass them on to the next apprentice in training. And then I would be one with the soul of the universe after having a sip of the holy nectar from Yama’s celestial jar. It’s going to be at least a few hundred years before that would happen, so I got to keep myself in his good books for the time being.

I reached the bridge and leaned onto a scrawny tree on the sidewalk. I covered myself in shadows, even though I knew that mortals couldn’t see me anyway. It just made me feel more dramatic. I couldn’t help it. My waist-long hair was dyed a bright orange from the pollen pitchers at Lakshmi’s parlor. The goddess with the bedazzling aura, glamorous smile, big eyes, lustrous hair and glittering apparels—is often bored as a bee inside a pumpkin. I visited her home at Baikuntha the other day to deliver a scroll from her husband, Lord Bishnu. She put it away unopened and frowned as if she already knew what it was all about. “He probably wrote to say that he’s going to extend his stay or something. Apparently he met this ‘poor, tormented soul’ from the void who deserves better than hovering round and round with a bunch of mindless douls,” she said, sighing.

“I thought every spirit in the void was a doul…how did this particular spirit turn out to be different?” I asked hesitantly.

“I was wondering the same thing. Perhaps it did something that set it apart from the others and earned him the great lord’s blessing,” she said with the dejection of a woman who was tired of having her husband running around the multiverse putting little tests on everybody’s paths and granting boons to those who passed them.

We got along quite well. Before long, she decided that she would get me all dolled up and pretty. I quite liked having her fussing over me like a big sister, but I couldn’t have predicted that the whole affair would end up with my mane being dyed an alarming shade of tangerine and with her in a particularly pleasant mood.

Nevertheless, here I was now, standing against an urchin tree with ragged leaves and blistered branches, waiting for my first mission to commence. I had my hair tied up in a bun and wrapped it with my blue scarf like a turban. I covered part of my face with its free end. The girl can’t see my face yet, nor the douls that we’ll soon encounter. I had Maitreyi’s outfit on. It was a sleek yet flowing metallic blue kurta that reached mid-calf. It had a single long slit right in the middle starting at the waist and was paired with cream-coloured, gold embroidered harem pants and a comfortable pair of tough bejewelled shoesa gift from the goddess Lakshmi.

I waited as the night dragged on. The sky indicated that it was time already. Where the heck was this girl?

To be continued

Meandering Souls: Locked in a death nap


I remember the time I died. I remember how it didn’t feel like death.

I had always thought of death as a dreadful thing, the infinite nightmare; the black hole that consumes everything you’ve ever had and pulls you into the bottomless pit of oblivion.

But now that I recall that one time when I lay covered in blood and grime, writhing on the crude asphalt of a midnight road. At that time, I discovered first-hand how everything they said about flashbacks and forgotten sins turned out to be true after all. I started having thoughts about my mom, my dad, my home, my life—about how they were all dead and cold and distant. Maybe in just a little while, they wouldn’t be as distant anymore.

A little dove the color of the sky settled in front of my face. It was luminescent and looked ethereal. Before then, I didn’t even know pure sky-blue doves existed. Where on earth did this little guy turn out from?

It hopped a few inches forward and touched a point on my forehead with its crooked beak. Its beady eyes glittered in the darkness like a call from the underworld. It pecked one, two, three times, before fanning its frothy wings on my face. I inhaled in the gentle breeze that its wings created. I remember thinking that this was probably what my first breath on earth must have been like. It was ironic that it should seem that way—for this was probably going to be my last breath on earth.

But then the most remarkable thing happened…the blue dove turned into a girl.

She told me something that would change the course of my life forever.

“This is where your ride begins,” she said, giving me something between a smile and a sigh.


I’m walking down a similar road now. It’s a pitch black, moonless night. There are dark clouds covering every inch of the sky like a flock of grumbling black sheep in a congested shed. They fidget every once in a while, causing a rumbling racket. From time to time, their keeper shows up with his flickering torch and they fall into a disgruntled silence.

I walk on, looking up at the sky every couple of minutes to check the time. The skies are the clocks of the universe and I inherited the skill to tell the time by looking at them on the day I died.

I remind myself that it wasn’t death even though it looked like it. I remember how somebody did die that night, even if it wasn’t me. Maitreyi. She died that day, passing on her responsibilities to me. My name is Revika, and I’m on my way to my first mission.

To be continued

Meandering Souls: Locked in a Death Nap

1 (Contd.)

Yama furrowed his brows and stroked his big moustaches. The lad obviously didn’t take in a single word that he said. He would have to tell Revika to run him through the details again later.

“Very well,” he said, “let’s get on with it then, shall we?” he said.

Sam gave a brief nod, not quite sure what was going on. He supposed this is the way the journey to the underworld, to pataal or parlok began for any normal dead creature. He reminded himself again that all of this was still just a dream.

Yama stared at him very closely for a few minutes. Sam shifted his gaze to his feet, feeling like a student being scrutinized at the Headmaster’s office for flanking a test. From the corner of his eye, he saw Yama looking at the lone tube-light on the ceiling. It began to flicker and then turned off, engulfing them in darkness. Not one patient in the room even so much as stirred while it happened. Either everyone was deep in slumber or too sedated to realize something out of the ordinary happening or…they were lulled into such a deep sleep by a force that only he could see.

Yama produced glowing orb of white light in his hand, stroking it between both of his hands like it was a rubber ball. Just like that, the room was somewhat bright again. He pulled off a small part of the light and threw the rest of it back to the tube-light, making it glow with life, albeit a little dim. Sam stared at the deity in front of him, part baffled, part blown away in amazement.

Yama grinned at him like a circus magician would to a little child before pulling off his final trick. He cradled the small ball of white light in the palms of his hands for a few moments and then drew a breath. He blew at it, blowing it off. The boy squinted at him, not quite sure what the big fellow was up to.

The next moment, the orb cracked up again. It burst in a whip of black flames.

Sam’s mouth was ajar. He gaped at the black, crackling flames that now formed a smaller ball in Yama’s hand, before turning even smaller, and smaller, until it was no bigger than a drop. It appeared like a small, glittering gemstone.

“Here, boy, catch!” Yama said, all jolly. He threw the stone at Sam before the boy could brace himself to catch it.

The stone went right into Sam’s chest and stayed stuck there like an ancient fossil.

“You’re all set, my boy,” Yama said with a smile. “Go on in. You’ll meet little Revi on the other side and she will acquaint you with the details of the mission.”

The other side? Mission? Who the heck is Revi?

“She is my trusted secretary. She’ll get you through the mission once you’re on the other realm. Just make sure to survive until then.” said Yama, as if trespassing in Sam’s head.

Survive what, exactly?

Sam was just about to ask that out loud when he felt an overpowering force pulling him to the mirror with the hole. He struggled. It was as if he was getting sucked into a vacuum cleaner.

The last thing he heard were Yama’s words. “Just make sure not to let the Douls feed on you,” he had said.

Sam found himself surrounded by profound, consuming darkness. He had no idea where he was. He stayed like that for quite some time, floating in dark ether. When he finally gained consciousness, he could make out the white dots of light from earlier. He also discovered—to his utter astonishment—that he was not alone in wherever it was he had landed in. It looked like the description of space that one reads in science books or watches on the Discovery channel. It was a vast, supposedly limitless stretch of nothingness. It looked like the night sky but it had no glittering display of the constellations other than those vague dots of light in the far distance. They seemed to beckon at him and Sam waded towards them, drawn by a force almost as severe as the need for air. He would soon find that he wasn’t the only being to feel that way.

The nearest dot was probably the brightest one, regarded Sam with some difficulty. He had trouble thinking with clarity. His mind seemed non-existent and his limbs were starting to turn to vapor with every moment that passed.

The dot could be anywhere from an arm’s length to millions of miles away. But Sam seemed to be getting closer to it. Almost there, he thought, as he pushed himself to move forward. Almost there, he refrained.

Just when he was about to reach out to it, a blizzard of grey fumes rushed past him. He was stunned. What on earth was that?

It turned out to be a mob of creatures identical to the crumpled, abyss-eyed guest from earlier. They were drawn to the same thing as him, drawn like a swarm of flies to a small bulb of light in an infinite dark room.

The mob of unruly beings from a world he had never thought existed before, flashed in a quick succession before him. It looked more crowded than the busiest road he had ever come across. He stood still in his position, frozen, not daring to cross through. He felt like a trespasser who would sooner or later be prosecuted. The punishment was already showing itself in the changes in his body. For the first time, Sam started noticing his arms and feel turn numb and slowly take a vapor-like form. In fact, his torso was the only part of his body that still had some structure. He felt his head growing heavy. He felt nauseous and memories started fading away into the cold vacuum. His face started sagging and his eyes grew into large portholes filled with a desperation to lead to somewhere. With the last ounce of consciousness that he could summon, he realized that he was quickly turning into one of them. 

He tried jolting his body forwards but in vain. For all that he tried, he hardly moved an inch. The black stone embedded in his core glowed blood-red and Sam yelped in pain. It seemed as if two opposing forces were pulling him in two directions—he felt as if he would be torn to pieces any minute now.

The forces of the Void twisted the boy to turn him into one of its own. One more minion at its command; one more hungry soul begging to be fed. The Void fed off those souls, souls that wanted nothing else other than a second chance at life—souls that were cursed to remain imprisoned in the infinite dungeons of the Void for time immeasurable.

The force of life bestowed by the God of Death, on the other hand firmly screwed in the vitality of life and corked into the boy’s core. Regardless, Sam felt no less of a pain than that of a person having one of his limbs being torn away while he was very much awake.

At length, he gave up trying. He had never been too keen on living anyways. This is just a dream, he told himself. Sooner or later, he would wake up to the same old miserable life. But now even the repetition failed to give him peace. Even if just a dream—

“It’s one hell of a nightmare!” he said. His screams of despair never did make more than a mere whimper. He gave up. If this nightmare was staunch upon still not drawing to an end, he would make it conclude right then and there himself. His head was a whirlpool that whirled his memories and intelligence down the loop of oblivion. Sam closed his eyes. He began to sink. Lower and lower.

It was astounding how remarkably real it felt. He could even perceive a flash of light on the back of his eyelids as he passed out.

Sambhav opened his eyes once during the ride. He felt the rush of air rustling his being as if he were moving in supersonic speed. He felt the grip on his arms, securing him firmly like the claws of a bird of prey. He didn’t dare to open his eyes, or maybe he just couldn’t. The pressure against his eyelids were too great, and once when he did open his eyes for just a minuscule moment, the rush of air almost dried them up. It was uncomfortable but he felt surprisingly at ease. He shut his eyes and watched the bright lights against the back of his eyes, pretty like fireworks, obscure like vague bright blobs.

When the show ended, he found that his life had too—at least in the world he had always known.

***End of Chapter One***

Meandering Souls: Locked in a death nap

1 (Contd.)

The racket was not over nothing. It was a harbinger to the arrival of Yama, the God of Death. The God looked quite ordinary. If not for his flashy costume, he almost had the look of a simple countryside lad, riding on the back of his faithful buffalo. Sam stared with amazement at the stout man with handlebar mustaches clad in all black. His sleek buffalo was a silky black too. A golden halo radiated off them, giving the duo an ethereal look. Sam wondered if this meant he was dead. His heart jumped inside his chest. It was almost funny, considering the fact that his heart was still inside his shell lying limp as an old sock. He laughed out loud like a madman. Fear often drives one to fits of laughter. Sam felt every bit like a psychopath. He started trembling where he stood by the window, wondering, no, hoping, that it was all just a dream.

The bull rode faster towards him, causing a deafening rumble as its hooves touched the thunderclouds. Sam flung his arms over his face in an attempt to shield himself from the raging creature. The golden bell around his neck clanged as it swung against its heavily bejeweled body. The black beast swooped down and started moving towards the window, landing right inside the room. It stopped at a bare arm’s length from pale human.

Sam stood watching, mouth agape as the huge man got off the gallant beast and strolled towards him.

“Master Sambhav Saikia?” confirmed Yama in a deep, booming voice that sounded very much like the close rumble of clouds looming over the trees outside the window. Sam could hardly breathe. He nodded once, hesitantly and moved closer to his body lying on the bed. Yama saw the boy trying to get inside his shell and broke into a crisp chuckle.

“My baby Tam Tam here disappears every time the servants want to groom him up,” the God of Death said, landing a caress on his mount’s head. Suddenly, he grew serious. His bushy brows drew together as he said—a trifle gravely as if it pained him to know that he was unwelcome in nine out of ten places he went to— “You want to disappear somewhere too, don’t you, Monsieur Sambhav?”

“You-uh-um—Sir-wha—just how do you speak French?” Sam babbled in a frenzy.

That killed Yama. He started laughing uncontrollably like an all too-happy Santa sporting a black beard and black garbs. “Look at this foolish mortal asking foolish questions, darling Tam Tam!” he said. The buffalo gave an uninterested bellow in reply.

“You’re no fun at all,” Yama said. He then turned to Sambhav and said, “I picked some French on my last trip abroad. Had a meeting with Ankou. The poor soul needs to get a life, cheer up a bit.”

“Ah, that’s enough chit-chat to last ten lives,” he said again, “Let’s get this done with, shall we?  It ain’t the usual routine so Tam Tam here is splendidly excited, aren’t you, darling?”

Another bored bellow came from the buffalo and Sam couldn’t help breaking into a hesitant grin. But realization hit quick and strong. He felt petrified for dear life as he stood in front of Yama, trying to decipher what he meant. Was it supposed to mean that this was the end of the road for him?

“Am I going to die, Sir?” he croaked, feeling every word in his gut sucked out of him.

“Do you want a short answer or a long answer?”

Does it even matter?


“Hmm. Then it’s a yes and no”

You got to be kidding.

The God of Death looked at the boy gaping at him with his mouth open in bafflement. He had black hair and big black eyes. Yama gave him a kind look. Revika’s description of the boy was at the back of his mind:

Name: Sambhav Saikia

Age: 24

Occupation: Student, part-time chess coach. Full-time brooding brat.

Family: Single mother, nurse; brother works in a bank. Brother is older by five years. Sister-in-law teaches in a middle-school.

Features: Pale brown skin, black hair, scrawny frame, eyes like Tam Tam.

Identifying character: Birthmark the size of half a lizard’s tail in the middle of the neck.

Reason for temporary death: Coma.

“Listen, child,” said Yama, “You are allotted on a mission.”

“A mission?” Sam parroted in confusion.

“Yes, a mission. A very important one at that,” Yama said with some fuss.

“Okay,” said Sam, letting off a small sigh. He was used to having strange, surreal dreams his whole life. He was probably lucid dreaming right now. This was a dream. A surreal dream, but a dream and nothing else. He remembered another strange dream from not so long ago—one in which he saw himself as a twelve-year old battling against a giant snake. He could recall that dream to astonishing details. The highlight of it all was when the snake hissed right at Sam’s ear, telling him about his final challenge. Sam was standing in front of three identical shadows standing in three different corridors. The corridors were constructed of limestone, and the setting seemed to be a temple. He was still contemplating upon selecting the shadow in the middle when he woke up in bed with one swift reflex.

He always looked forward to his next interesting dream. They were one of the few things that made his dull life interesting.

However, even Sam with his acceptance of the bizarre—felt like his subconscious was going a little overboard with this particular dream.

Yama was saying something the entire time. Sam brought his attention back to the God and tried to decipher what he had missed during his short reverie.

“…so as you can see, you shouldn’t at all think about this being a death. In fact, you are being transferred temporarily…you—Sambhav? Sambhav Saikia? Listen to me, boy”

“Yeah, yeah I am here. I get it…I guess,” said Sam. He is the god of death, Sam, he has come to take your soul with him to Parlok.

To be continued.

Meandering Souls: Locked in a death-nap (contd.)

1 (Contd.)

After struggling for what seemed like hours, they left him on his bed, covered in bandages from head to toe. He looked boneless. He had no desire to return to that painful shell just yet. Some force, invisible and hesitant, tugged on what he discovered to be a thread tied to one of his ankles. The other end of the thread disappeared among the white sheets covering his broken body. He instinctively knew it to be last morsel of living force wanting to pull him back into his useless shell. No, he decided, he wouldn’t return just yet.

He did believe in the existence of souls—probably even to a tad higher degree than he would like to admit (being involved in the unrealistic endeavor of writing stories about them for quite some time now) but he had never really thought that he might actually possess one, especially one that could feel like a real entity. He believed it now as he stared at his own body lying limp on the cold hard hospital bed. The bed was placed adjacent to the wall. Opposite to the wall was an open window. Rays from the full, sulfur yellow moon shone at the wall in thick, straight beams, causing an outline to form on it. Sam saw a deep hole forming inside the wall, like sand being poured with a steady flow of water. Inside the hole, it was pitch dark. But then he saw something move inside it.

The thing gaped at him with huge hollow eyes. Well, not quite at him, but at his body. At length, the thing turned to face Sam’s soul standing beside his body, tied to it on the ankle by a thin cord that looked like it would snap into two if he so much as tugged at it. The thing had the look of a dead creature. It looked at him almost longingly.

A few moments passed; Sam finally moved his gaze to beyond the weird stranger. It was black like a deep well or a tunnel, with faint grains of light scattered far away in the distance. Sam could swear he saw something swimming across. It was like a flash of blue. He felt as if he had missed a crucial detail by a random blink.

It was the treatment, he reasoned. The shock and strong anesthetics were making him imagine strange things. Or, it could be a ghost for all he cared. He didn’t feel any less than a ghost himself right then. It would be morning soon. Sam stared at the creature once more, taking in his features. It would make for the character of a thriller. Large hollow eyes, like liquid pools of black the size of a closed fist, a crumpled, flaky round face; the rest of it was simply white vapor. It didn’t look scary at all. It looked plain weird. He left his guest and moved towards the window.

The moon was dazzling and glorious even against the puffs of clouds that were set on giving it an eerie appearance. There was a storm coming. Leaves had started rustling furiously; the lone night jar stopped singing; the elderly owl retired to a safe hole.

Nobody wanted to be in the way as his ride passed.

Sam watched with anticipation as the rumble grew stronger, louder, ferocious. Behind him, the guest cowered away from the face of the hole, swiftly floating away to join the others. It had stared into those lethal red eyes once, and it knew that one glimpse was all it took.

To be contd.