Aunty Dolly explores what might be waiting for us at yonder end.
There’s absolutely no doubt there’ll come a day when I’ll bid adieu to life and the people and the things in it that I hold so dear. Nevertheless, I’ve been turning a blind eye to this dreaded possibility, while conveniently diverting my tawajaa (focus) navigating the day- to-day trivialities. However, with the virus ominously creeping in on all sides like the Passover plague of Hollywood’s The Ten Commandments (1956), I’m scared sleepless; I’m petrified! The queue I’m standing in is snaking unnervingly fast towards the court of Dharamraj (the god of the netherworld), and I’m utterly and totally unprepared for whatever it is that happens at death, or what or who waits for me at yonder end of the bridge. Will it be dark and mournful there, or bright and joyous? Does a swarg or heaven exist, with angels flitting around and harps playing in the background; and is there really an eternally burning furnace called narakk, with blood-curdling shrieks and screams, wailing, and lamenting coming from those poor souls who knew no better than to lead lives of corruption and vice?
But since nobody has ever come back to verify or deny the existence of these realms, it just might be a ruse played on us by the earliest wise men for our harmonious coexistence. Either way, neither the promise of everlasting bliss has been attractive enough, nor the fear of endless, excruciating agony been daunting enough, to have deterred the human race from committing unimaginable atrocities. And yet, we are able to look ourselves in the eye and call ourselves manav or human. We’re the one and only species possessing the unique characteristics of maanavataa or humanity, the capacity of being humane or dayal; our remarkable brain is equipped with vivek, the power to discern between right and wrong. So, the onus does rest on us, both individually and collectively, to share our human nature of compassion, benevolence, kindness, empathy, and mercy, not only to our fellow species, but to all life, however insignificant and lowly they may be.
Earth, our home planet, isn’t named after any god, but it’s the most beautiful planet in our solar system, which is but a teeny-tiny blotch in the cappuccino swirl-like Milky Way, which in turn, is just a ball-point dot within this unfathomable and incomprehensible expanse that is the infinite universe. Though the universe is boundless and borderless, yet every galaxy, star, moon, planet, and the spaces in between each, rotates and orbits with clockwork precision, independent and yet interdependent, and interlinked by mysterious forces and laws of nature that are so exact and delicately balanced that every small change or shift, whether natural or manmade, cannot but have an interrelated effect, however distant they might be from each other.
In the same manner, suffering, whether it’s due to karma or the state of things at their worst, is never a punishment, but just a natural consequence to an earlier event. Nature is never vengeful or unkind; she didn’t bring about COVID-19. She is, however, helpless when we humans, her designated custodians, let our greed, complacency, and cowardice squash and silence our conscience, and bludgeon everything good and beautiful in her, badly ravaging the limited reserves she so carefully nurtured deep inside her womb. Nature is taking a much-needed break, and we’ve had plenty of time to reassess how wasteful we’ve been, and what we can do differently once we are again able to leave the confines of our homes.
I guess, it’s as good a time as any for me to start ‘getting ready’ to leave the familiarity of this life, and step into the unknown beyond. Lord Buddha states that, “All things that are born, must die.” Even the mighty stars and galaxies are continuously being born, while many others are collapsing into themselves. Meanwhile, I’m going to strap myself into my seat on the roller-coaster of life, shut my eyes, and scream and shriek at the down- curves and let myself touch the sky on its up-turns.