I’m an angel. I know, that’s a funny way to start a story. But, I’m really an angel! Believe me. I died some time ago and am in heaven now. But I think I’ll start the story from the beginning.
I’m an old man who watched his wife die in front of his eyes. And I couldn’t bear the sight. I couldn’t come to terms with her loss for all that she meant to me. For all that we were. I couldn’t cry nor even move. I just saw her dying, and I wasn’t ready for it. I wished that I were dead too. I couldn’t imagine a life without her. You must have heard this one a lot of times, that if a person wants something very bad, he gets it eventually. And so I died a few moments later, lying next to her bed, next to her dead body. I didn’t know I died until I could see myself lying still by her body, somewhere below me. I could see it all, as if I was outside my body. But I was outside my body and I could see the room, myself and my wife in it, lying dead. The vision was getting foggy, fading away and then blurred out totally. I didn’t know what was happening for a while, until I saw the gates of Heaven and an angel-like figure welcoming me.‘This is it!’, I thought. And I was elated that I died. I was happy, a bit vain may be, that my love for my wife is so strong that I died along with her. That even death couldn’t separate us. Even as I think of her now, a feeling swells inside me of an invisible connection, an inexplicable oneness with her. That we were but one, we were made for each other. The perfect couple. The special story of love. That is how it always was for me.
The angel smiled at me, like only angels do, and said in a musical tone, ‘Welcome to Heaven! I’m pleased to see you here. Let me take you around and familiarize you with the place that will be your permanent home from now!’ Seriously, I was a bit surprised it wasn’t any different from what humans think about heaven. It was just about the same. Same colour schemes and background themes you get to see on TV. So I went through the tour with the expected fascination and the usual Oh, Ah’s. At the end of it, the angel turned around and said, ‘One last thing. Now that you are in heaven, you will take the physical form of your human self. But since not many people prefer to look like what they did at the time of their death, particularly in this wonderful place, you get to choose to look like what you did in the happiest moment of your life. For instance, you could say I want to look like what I did on my wedding night. And you will take that form while in heaven. We allow this to you, so that you can preserve that moment of perfect bliss forever!’‘So, choose wisely my son, and tell me what time of your life you would choose as the happiest. And enter heaven in that form.’
I thought for a while. Should I choose the moment when I saw my wife for the first time? Or when she shyly acknowledged my love and agreed to marry me? Or any of those little moments of joy when we gazed into each other’s eyes and wished the time would stop? Or when I discovered that I died along with her, as a proof of our eternal love? But I couldn’t choose any of these because, though they were all special to me, I don’t know which of these moments was the happiest for her.
So I said to the angel, ‘My wife died a few moments before I did and I’m sure she arrived here before me. I don’t know what she has chosen as the happiest moment of her life. But you would know, wouldn’t you? Whatever she has chosen, I would choose the same moment. As there is no greater happiness for me than her happiness. I loved her so, and I still do.’ The angel looked around a bit confused and spoke up finally, ‘You know, that is a very strange request. We don’t get too many souls here who carry over their worldly attachments to heaven.’
‘But our love is eternal!’ I protested. ‘And eternal love transcends worlds. Doesn’t it?’
He still looked a bit unsure. ‘Umm... well! Theoretically, yes. But, er.... Anyway, I wouldn’t know much about it. So I’ll go look her up in the records in the female souls section and get your wish granted. Enjoy Heaven!’
So here I am, waiting for them to grant my wish while I’m telling you my story of love. The bond that even the greatest power, death, couldn’t break. I met my wife sixty two years ago when I was a young college student. She was a class mate’s friend and had come to attend a youth festival at college. It was love at first sight and how! The moment I saw her, I felt an instant attraction and I knew she was the girl for me. It took me a while to get introduced to her, and since she was in the same city, I could meet her as often as possible. She told me, though many years later, that she too loved me at first sight. At first, it was the usual love of young people, like anybody else. But as things got along, and I fought her family and mine to get married to her, I felt something was different about us. I felt our match was perfect and we were truly made for each other. It was a perfectly composed symphony, the way we lived.
After a few years of marriage, I saw a lot of my friends drift away from their spouses, out of frustration or sheer boredom. Their love diminished and vanished in some cases. But not ours. Sixty two years and each year we were closer than before. Each one was a year of discovery for each other, and the more we knew about ourselves as a couple, the more we were in love. Our love never went down like others’, but always grew until the very day we died.
We had kids too, two lovely children who are now proud parents themselves. But I never felt as much love to my children as I did to my wife. She had trouble bearing children, with prolonged usage of contraceptives damaging her womb. But after a few years of treatment, she gave birth to our children and though she was a bit tense until happened, it was never a matter of grave concern. Because, our marriage was never for a societal obligation to rear children, but was unison of two souls perfectly matched for each other.
And now here I am, waiting for a fitting climax to our special love story. Here I am teaching angels about eternal love, that they probably read in text books in some angel training school. And I was proud of it!
I am taking shape now and I see that I’m looking a bit like what I did when I participated in the marathon run in the early years of my marriage. I was 33 then I think. I can remember what I looked like during that marathon year perfectly. I trained hard for the run, and fancied my chances of topping the non-competitive section. I was nowhere close to the top, but that training really helped me regain my fitness which lasted for a few years. And a year later, my eldest son was born a day before the annual marathon, and I couldn’t participate in it. I fancied my chances that year too, but no regrets! After all, a child is obviously better than a marathon prize! Though I could never run after that, what with one thing or the other, I always took pride in that particular marathon I ran.
I wonder what is so special about that marathon year that my wife was the happiest. But when I meet her, I’ll know!
I start strolling around to look for my wife and just around a huge pearly gate, I see her coming towards me. My heart, or the place where it used to be, swelled seeing her. Young again and beautiful as ever. Somehow, the angel robes suited her perfectly and she was looking gorgeous. I was more in love with her than ever. I was elated to see her and rushed towards her.
She stopped and smiled blankly. I couldn’t read her mind and that perturbed me. But may be she is a bit dazed with this death thing and I wanted to tell her not to worry, I am here now. She asked me with a softer voice than I had known, ‘So you have come too?’ I swelled with pride again. I said, ‘What did you think? I was just telling an angel what eternal love is all about, and he didn’t believe me! Yes, I have come too. Moments after you did.’
She smiled that strange smile again and didn’t say anything. I was getting annoyed with this new aspect of her that I never knew. But I brushed that aside, and asked her what I wanted to know with all eagerness. ‘So, what moment did you choose as the happiest one? I had a long list, but couldn’t choose any. So I told them to give me the same moment that you chose. After all, your happiness is mine!’
She stared at me with that annoying smile and a strange light in her eyes, ‘Don’t you know?’
‘Frankly, I’m stumped. I can’t think of a single major event beyond that marathon that I ran that year. You must have a secret happy moment then, that you never told me about!’ I teased her trying to ease that strange distance that I felt between us now.
She said, ‘But you know. Oh, KK! Don’t you remember? That was the year when I finally got pregnant. After years of that therapy and endless crying at nights, I could finally come to the threshold of becoming a mother. After all, becoming a mother was such a wonderful feeling. I had to face all those taunts and questions from everyone and finally I could stand up and tell everyone that I too can become a mother. I always tried to be the perfect mother to our kids, and I think I was one. Though you never took the responsibilities you were supposed to, I tried to make up for your shortcomings for the sake of our children. That moment, when my pregnancy tests were positive, was the pinnacle of my life and I found a meaning for myself that day. Don’t you remember?’
I realised what the distance was and what was that strange feeling I had, looking at her. Eternal love, as the angel said, was.... but never mind about all that. I’m sorry; I thought I was telling you all a special story of love. But I just realized, it was JUST ANOTHER LOVE STORY.