Lying down on a mattress on roof, with his head in the shed and rest of the body in sunshine, on a cold winter noon, he was thinking to himself:
“They say Mr. Sharma killed his wife by burning her to death because of greed. He wanted more dowry. Later on, he married again and became a saintly person who used to go to temple twice daily. He participated in religious movements but when it came about practicing what he preached his greed took over him and he was dishonest with the allocation of government funds. His son met a terrible fate and was shot in the spinal cord in a feud involving a girl. He died a painful death at a very young age leaving his entire family grief stricken.
Mrs. Batra lives alone. She is a nurse and people claim that she has had many extramarital affairs as she could never manage it well with her husband. Her husband rarely visits here when their daughter is around. Their son was involved in a scandal where he made a lascivious MMS of girl.
Mr. Talwar got a male child after waiting for long and doing many ceremonies and rituals and he is a ray of hope in their family. One of their children was born with learning disabilities. This small town had no schools for underprivileged children. Since she was a girl her marriage meant she was supposed to live away from them. They got her married in a ceremony and the house where she was married is not furnished. She has to cook food on earthenware stove by burning coal and wood. She doesn’t feel good over there.
In the household of Mr. Pathak there are so many children. Just a decade ago he was making a lot of money by underhand means but now resources are scarce. His youngest son is suffering from arthritis of a rare kind at a young age and he can’t go to work since last one year. His income was meager as such and there are two children to feed and expenses for their education. They have tried many treatments but nothing positive seems to have happened so far. Mr. Pathak’s second son suffers from many big boils and rashes all over his body and he is also barely able to manage his household. The eldest son is most hardworking and responsible person in the household but he is also concerned about his son who has not been able to get a government job since completing his graduation. It has been four years since he has been working hard to get a job but no success.
Dixit family don’t have a permanent source of income. They have many members in family and the eldest daughter was married to a violent man. She suffered a lot and came back and now lives with them. One of their daughters is not willing to marry. She has kept short hairs since childhood and worn clothes like boys which was rare for any girl in a small town in India. People talk about her but family has to bear it all.
Thinking about all these neighborhood tragedies his heart was about to get burst. He wanted to run away from all this but where? His own family was no better. His grandfather had incurred a lot of debt by gambling and his father along with his uncle were supposed to pay it off as he died very early without having paid much. His father and uncles had no advantage of good education. All he had heard since his childhood were phony religious talks and swear words whenever there were altercations about money. He had been hearing about Karma, sins, merits and God since childhood but could never understand how they ever made sense to anyone.
His father was a thief. He used to steal money from work of others. His uncle became a gambler and like his grandfather incurred a lot of debt which compelled him to run away to some far off city. A big line of all people who had given their money to his uncle was there in front of their house every morning. His wife and two young children were harassed almost every day.
His youngest uncle was hard-working but barely had an education. He used to drink and eat meat despite being from an upper brahmin caste. It was lack of education and bad company he lived in since his early childhood which made him so. Now having gotten married he was slightly reformed but disputes were not rare. He also didn’t have any good source of income and his two children were growing up fast and needed money.
His aunts were married to two different types of families. The eldest aunt was married to a gentleman who knew a lot but acted a little. They had to face great poverty and their children had barely enough funds to spend on education. Aunt’s health was never good either. Always worried on account of relatives around her who used to criticize them and concerned about the future of her kids she suffered from hypertension and asthma.
Younger aunt was married into a wealthy household by chance. When the family of boy came to visit a girl in the neighborhood the boy didn’t like the girl. The neighbors who were also relatives called this young lady and she was beautiful so boy decided to marry her. She found soon after her marriage that her husband was not really an active man. He had no advantage of wealth from his mom because she found him incapable of managing funds. Being out of work for long made him violent too. The aunt had a difficult time. Moreover she couldn’t bear a child because her uterus had some complications. This overwhelmed her with pain and suffering as she was a sensitive lady and it is a curse in Indian families if a woman is unable to give birth.
His grandmother has been suffering since grandfather passed away. Whatever he had left to her legally was taken away by her sons because they claimed that they had paid the debt back. Grandmother was on mercy of her sons who treated her like a maid servant and used to insult her every now and then.
Thus he kept thinking for long about other families. He was so afraid of news reports that he started avoiding them. Like an ostrich he used to keep his head hidden from news and thought that the world is all good but how could he avoid people around him who used to tell him about all the horrors in the world all the time? Accidents, heart-attacks, murders, rapes, acid-attacks, thugs, thieves, corruption and so much more made his head explode with disgust and anxiety. Where to go? Who will see his pain? The world around him was on fire. He questioned God. There are people who say God is good. God is beautiful. God is kind. Do they not see the horrors I see? He thought to himself. This world seemed like a madhouse. A penitentiary or a big hospital. What kind of God would have created this world? Is this world a work by a sick God?
There were stories in Hindu mythology which told accounts of many realms of existence in the world. This realm, they say is called Mrityu Loka or Bhuloka. Mrityu means death and Loka means the realm. The death is the highest truth here, therefore this realm is known as Mrityu Loka. They say there are more beautiful realms where frequency of vibration is higher than it is here. Such as Swarga Loka: abode of demigods and Tapa Loka: abode of yogis. In those higher realms knowledge is purer and suffering is less. In the highest worldly realm Brahma Loka there is no old age or grief. This all seemed like fairy tale woven by clever minds to allure children who were crying. Why create this hell of house? Whose gain is this and whose glory? Does God need countless humans who bow down to him in various places of worship? What kind of God will need that? This must be a sick God.
Since his mind was not at rest, he had infinite questions but no answers. He knew it for a fact that world was full of suffering. His own experiences of illness, grief, loss and old age was enough to tell him that world was not a happy place and happiness was not to be found there. One natural disaster after another was lurking in the corner to unsettle people. Despite that some people were so forgetful enjoying their meals and ceremonies as if nothing was there to be worried about. Looking at his neighbors and relatives made him feel deep inside his soul, inside every nerve and fibre of his body that this was a nightmare. How will he wake up and where when all he has known is this? Committing suicide was no option either because Karma said that he would be thrown to hellish realms which were worse than this realm for committing this sin. If this was a classroom and he had to learn some lessons why did this start in the first place and when was it going to end? If Karma is the cause of suffering when did he incur it?