Religiously Incorrect

Abhimanyu Sheshashayee 

“Please! Yamraj!” begged Savitri. “I’ll do anything… please… It’s not his time!”

The dark lord of death did not slow down. Rather, the buffalo he was riding chose not to slow down. Savitri kept running behind Yama, the Hindu god of death, begging him for her husband’s life. Satyavan, destined to die a year from whence Savitri married him, had just had his soul claimed by Yama. Savitri, being the dutiful and loving wife she was, had been running after Yama for the last twenty or so kilometres. If she only could convince Yama to return her husband’s life before he reached the astral portal to his abode…

“This is the eight thousand, four hundred and ninety seventh time that you have asked me that” muttered Yama darkly and looked back at Savitri, who was still scrabbling after him. “And you know that I’m not exaggerating. I do not tolerate exaggeration” he said.

Yama was irritated. Ok, so the exact nature of Satyavan’s death was a bit… obscure. Well, not really. How would humans know of brain tumours at this day and age? They still thought that their ayurveda and yogic rubbish worked. Not to mention the humans governed by the other pantheons. Those ones thought that bleeding would solve their aliments. Imbeciles…

Yama shook his head sadly. Just because one exceptional doctor had predicted Satyavan’s demise, all of this… this commotion from this spoilt woman. Once a princess, always a princess-the stubborn, bone-headed, arrogant little bi…

“Please! I beg you! I prostate at you feet!” wailed Savitri.

“Eight thousand, four hundred and ninety eight” muttered Yama to himself. He was getting so irritated… No one had ever been so… so bold and annoying at the same time before. People usually cowered when he came… not that he came often. He normally came for the cases where death was certain, as he didn’t like waiting a lot. Incurable diseases, natural disasters, weapons of mass destruction, etc. For the ones which involved lots of waiting, he sent out his servants to do the harvesting.

Usually, when he came to earth to stretch his legs and do some collecting, the masses always ran in fear from him. It even felt good, to see so many scurrying from him, when they still had many years left. Those fools. It wasn’t like he just randomly killed people…

“Yamraj!” said the woman again. Yama closed his eyes and gritted his teeth.

“What. Is. It?” he asked her, being as patient as he could.

“When one walks seven steps with another, the two are friends. I have walked more than seven steps with you…” Yama sighed.

“Ok, fine. I’ll give you yet another boon” said Yama. Then he muttered: “Then we aren’t friends anymore” to himself. He was getting sick of this tirade. He had already given Savitri her parent’s sight back, her parent’s defeated kingdom back, lots of gold, dresses, ornaments and even, for some obscure reason, twin elephants. Why she had asked for twin elephants was something he didn’t even want to know.

“For my boon…” said Savitri, still pursuing Yama relentlessly. “I want… I want a hundred children! There! Now you have to give me my husband back!” yelled Savitri triumphantly.

Yama stopped his water buffalo. He wheeled it around slowly, facing Savitri. She was drenched in sweat mixed with the dust of travel to produce a sticky grime which covered her clothes. Disgusting. Anyhow…

“A hundred children?” asked Yama, surprised.

“Yes!” said Savitri panting, a large smile drawn across her face. “A hundred children! And I can’t have that if my husband dies! Because then I’d have to commit Sati!” Yama muttered angrily to himself. Stupid humans and their stupid misinterpreted rituals. Shiva would be furious if he heard this. Although that would be nothing compared to how livid Parvathi would get. “So you have to give me my husband back! Give me Satyavan!” said Savitri.

Yama looked at her. This was… no… but… he struggled with himself. This irritating woman and her irritating ideas and irritating…ness. So determined to get her husband back… Now this request? Yama fought to control his face.

“So be it. Your husband is alive again” said Yama, fighting to appear calm. He lifted Satyavan’s soul container and clicked the ‘un-delete’ button.

Savitri looked ecstatic. No, that wasn’t a good enough adjective. She looked happy beyond happy. She immediately turned around and ran back down the path, screaming her husband’s name. At any other time, Yama would have been furious for not receiving even a single word of thanks. Yet, now he just fought to control himself, waiting for the receding figure of Savitri to disappear in the distance.

When Savitri was finally out of sight, Yama got off his buffalo and fell to the ground, tears flowing down his eyes, laughing like mad.

The scream echoed around the astral plains, despite the fact that the astral plains were supposed to be infinitely large. The sound, emanating from the ethereal television, was punctuated by the words “Push! Push!”

“That must really hurt…” chortled Kama, god of love, transfixed by the screen in front of him. More than half the major gods of the pantheon were crowded around the screen.

“Well, Ganchu” said one of the Ashwini twins, staring at the ethereal screen. “That’s another of their… obstacles… that you don’t need to worry about” Ganesha burst into another peal of giggles, for the nth time.

“Yama… you bastard… you shouldn’t have…” murmured Vishnu, grinning.

“Why not?” asked Yama, as another scream rent out of the television. “She asked for it…”

“You should not just give boons like that…” said Vishnu. “It’s not… good…”

“Well, it’s not like I gave a boon of immortality to some megalomaniacal asura…” replied Yama. All the gods’ turned to look at Brahma.

“Oh, shut up” muttered the creator, and a wave of mild laughter swept through the group.

They all looked back at the screen, where a woman, drenched in sweat, face contorted into a rictus of pain, grabbed the wrist of a man, digging her nails into his skin, and screamed into his face: “NO MORE! NEVER AGAIN! THIRTY TWO IS ENOUGH!”.

The man winced under her grip, and meekly ventured: “But, my love, your boon…” Another ripple of laughter ran through the spectators.

“I really don’t tolerate exaggeration…” muttered Yama with a grin.

Abhimanyu Sheshashayee is an 18 year old IBDP student. He has a zany sense of humour and has a black belt in Karate. He loves neuroscience and computers with an equal passion and intends to go into Research someday soon. Abhi has been writing since he was 4 and illustrating his work too! He plays football and badminton with the same enthusiasm as he participates in quizzes. He was an All Asia Bournvita finalist in 2003.

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