Dying Earth – A Short Story

A lot of things flashed through my mind. The dream I had last night, or was it a nightmare? I could still feel the reverberation of those children crying. Those were the children who got orphaned in the bloodiest battle that was fought, all for a small river. Two Indian states fought tooth and nail, making a mockery of all the ideals that half-naked fakir stood for. The casualties were in lakhs, as the Indian troops stood as silent spectators. The Indian government was more worried about losing votes than saving lives, especially when the fighting states were not ruled by their own party. More the casualty, more the ire towards the state government. Fishing in troubled waters, literally. I happened to pass by those relief camps set for the destitute children and the exploitation and apathy was more gruelling than the riots. Food packets that were so costly in these days of famine and drought, never reached the needy. I wish I could cry out “Oh My God”!

Suddenly it dawned on me that before going to sleep last night, somebody had called on me to inform about the prevalent lung cancer deaths in China. Years of mindless development had taken its toll. Millions were suffering from Asthma, Bronchitis, lung cancer and loss of eye-sight. A defunct society reminiscent of George Orwell’s English novel 1984. People who were no better than robots. The man who called upon me was himself coughing vigorously, unable to speak out. He had hanged up the call before he could fully explain the conditions. Again I was about to wail out “Oh My God”, then somehow I had to restrain myself.

Then there were the religious cries I heard from the streets a stone’s throw away. Streets where beautiful women were barred from showing even their faces in public. They wore all-encompassing gowns, making one wonder, what for these beauties were made for, if not for others to see them and get inspired to write poems eulogizing their celestial looks. What if Kalidasa and Shakespeare were born into such societies? How a Shakunthala or a Juliet would have looked in gowns. Would a Dushyanta or a Romeo have fallen in love with those veiled figures? What would have happened to those umpteen tales of love where a woman’s appeal surpassed all the physical boundaries, whether geographical, social or religious? On the other side of the street, there were men busy lynching a poor butcher for having slaughtered a cow. That man had five stomachs to feed, was that cow more important than those starving kids. I remembered the words of Swami Vivekananda, who after having got stunned with the caste hierarchy of a supposedly beautiful state in India, yelled that it was nothing but a lunatic asylum. I once again relented to the fallacy of calling out “Oh My God”.

“More you make me wait

More it makes you a gift

More you keep silence

More it gives me patience

More you make me guessing

More it makes you gushing

More you make me chasing

More we would be kissing”

These were the words written by a boy in a nearby town. He was desperate to woo his college mate. The girl wanted to say no, and in fact she said that in many ways, some subtle but some very blunt. But the guy was more influenced by the famous movie he saw “Haseena Maan jayengi” (girl will eventually say yes). Under this false inhibition he kept on pursuing the girl till she slapped him. Next thing he did was to throw acid on her face, disfiguring that wonderful creature forever. And this country has many such cases where the culprits go scot free. “Oh My God”, is it worth uttering those three words at all?

Somewhere in the deserts, a son yesterday stoned his mother to death for alleged blasphemy of the Holy book. Somewhere else a mother killed a son for not reciting the verses of the holy book properly.

Very close to where I reside, girls were getting forced into prostitution since they were from a particular caste. Another set of people were to continue as scavengers carrying the night soil, despite born into a caste bearing the name of a great sage. Scores of small boys and girls were getting subjected to exploitation, child-labour and were preyed on by paedophiles. There is not a single household which does not have a case of domestic violence against the ladies. And ironically most of these societies thump their own chests as the ones who protect, worship and provide for women. God forbid do not think of those three words.

Up far across the seven seas, a man sitting on the most powerful throne on the planet, decides not to care a damn about the changing climates. He has decided to increase those smoke-puking industries so that he can make everything around him great again. The plastics and electronic waste pile up like a Satan’s tongue all across the world, and leaders of the world have shunned the cause. Millions of fish die due to the rising temperature of seas mainly because of the global warming and the warm water being discharged into the sea by the power plants. Half of the species on the planet were on verge of an existential crisis with their habitats being challenged by either human trespass or ill-effects of so called development. It’s said soon the ice formation at the poles were to melt and the sea is going to rise. I was feeling pity for all the Gods who had their abodes near the sea, they must be getting ready for their own perennial immersions.

Many had joined the ilk of Arthur Clarke, Isaac Isamov and Dan Simmons, who had written the obituary of this planet and had already fantasised about settling on distant planets going around their respective stars. The planet earth true was struggling to take the load of ever-increasing human population, presently at a staggering figure of 6 billion, and also their greed and gluttony. It was sadly witnessing the decline and degradation of its other species, its resources, its flora and fauna. Human beings were her proverbial prodigal son, spoiling the fortunes of the whole family. And true to their colours they were fast fantasizing of ditching her, eagerly waiting for her death. Gods better be immersed.

yada yada hi dharmasya

glanir bhavati bharata

abhyutthanam adharmasya

tadatmanam srjamy aham


paritranaya sadhunam

vinasaya ca duskritam


sambhavami yuge yuge

Some gentle souls in the world, who still had some love for their mother wanted this divine intervention and kept on believing in the above hymns from the Bhagavat Gita. Some others believed the Son of God would soon arrive to salvage the situation. But why should the Gods interfere when human beings have been given the gift of intellect. Luck favours the brave, likewise, Gods help only those people who help themselves. Human beings need to change themselves and protect their only abode. Shedding her for better abodes would remain only a fantasy. By the way, who would love you more than your biological mother? Not even God.

It was getting late enough to be worried. I once again stepped into the balcony and looked down. Except for a drenched street dog that was lying down miserably near the gate, there was not a soul to be seen anywhere. Rain water had puddled under the lamp post. A breeze ruffled the mango tree in the courtyard and a few twigs fell down and broke. Thunder rumbled in the distance. Did I hear a soft knock at the door? I turned back….

The soft knock which had propelled my mind towards some wild thinking, had become a clarion call by now, to open the door. The door was being banged by somebody clearly in distress, matching the rumblings of thunders outside. I hesitated for a moment more, then thought that I already did lot of thinking, now let me see what was in store for me across the door.  I slowly creaked the door open.

I wish it had been a damsel in distress, but it turned out to be an old woman, but yes, she was in distress. She was wearing torn and soiled clothes. Her wrinkles and blemishes were making her look older than what she actually was. Her eyes were sagging and swollen from the torture and pain she must have gone through.  But the eyes, despite the deformities, had the pomp and gaiety of a regal past. I gazed at her for few more seconds before I could recognize who it was.

“How long should I sustain this?” she asked. “You never told me things could get this bad and it is getting worse day by day. I was happy with those bigger kids of mine, which you decided to finish off in one go. You never heard my cries as a mother. You said all that was for something good that was going to happen. Is this the goodness you were talking about?” she kept on wailing and I had no answer.

“I am a mother of many, but I love each one of my off springs. I have done everything possible to accommodate all of them, bending backwards as far as possible. But beyond this I cannot be flexible, since I have to sustain myself to sustain them. You cannot be so irresponsible, it is in your name that half the time they fight. Why couldn’t you visit even once to cool off the things? You cannot leave everything to me and live in isolation like a coward. I’m fed up with this last offspring who is hell bent to destroy everything” – she was in no mood to spare me.

For a while I pondered upon what I should say. She cannot be cajoled for sure. If she had even one ounce of energy to hang on she would not have come to me for help. I knew her. I believe yesterday’s misadventure by that crook of a guy in Pyongyang must have blew the top for her. She simply wanted to avoid a catastrophe. I could fully empathize with her.

I held her on the shoulders, looked straight into her eyes. I straightened the curls that were hanging onto her face, and gave a gentle pat on the cheek. “Now you listen carefully. I am going to tell something you never knew before. If I had to straighten them up, I could have done it effortlessly. Remember they are not there to enjoy their lives, but to exhaust their Karma. Eventually if they want to perish, so be it. I will never go to them. If they need to come to me, then they should qualify themselves. Let them introspect and find out why they have been sent there. I cannot do anything for you as well, since you are also going through your Karma. As I told Arjuna many millenniums back, let all of them try to come out of this cycle of sufferings. Right now they are trapped in the Maya of materialism. Unless they understand this, I expect nothing from them but the frequent yelling of Oh My God!”







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