Biren spends all his evenings in what one may consider an unusual place. A large open space that one cannot call it a park but well lit with lots of flower plants and small trees. The ground is green with grass and well laid out pathways. There were convenient concrete benches that one can comfortably recline. Most people come there for a purpose and very few to idle away their time despite the pleasant surroundings. The architecture of the few buildings may give an initial impression of a temple but they actually house a crematorium. The municipal corporation had transformed what was a dingy dark and dirty place into a beautiful one. The smell of burning bodies though it assailed his nose did not deter him from visiting the place.
It is not that Biren is given to melancholy or a negative mindset for him to frequent this spot. It is close to his house and a convenient get away from the constant wrath of his dad. It is not his fault if no one offered him a job. The old man berated him daily and even suggested manual labour if need be to earn a few rupees. But his kindly mom would intervene and tell that her son would work only in an office. A graduate he had no skill except playing carom. The unemployed young men like him played at the corner of the street and in the evenings under a light, power for which was stolen from the main box. He was popular there but had to leave as he could not afford the periodical expense for tea and singharas when his turn came.
It was past dusk one evening. There were not many people. One group had just finished the rituals for cremation and was readying to leave. He saw at the gate another group entering. There were many men and women in tears. He was sitting in a chair in the far corner watching idly the movement of the people and the body on the shoulders of a few young men. It was then he noticed a dark and tall figure draped in black shawl approaching him. He sat up with a start.
The figure said in a soft but gruff tone “Do not fear. I need an instant help from you. Please do not refuse as a life is dependent on it.”
Biren was not afraid. He said “Tell me”
“It is like this. There has been a goof up by my assistants. The man, whose body has just been brought in, is not destined to die now. His time is much later. That was a case of mistaken identity and a big blunder by my men.” He said
Even when he had not finished Biren asked him “Who are you? You are talking as if you are Yama Dharma Raja. Why are you playing such pranks when the people are already sad? Please go away. I have no time for you”
“No, just look at me for a second” he said when Biren espied him sitting on a dark buffalo with his large mustache and protruding bulbous eyes and with a rope on his hand. Involuntarily Biren stood up and with folded hands prostrated before him.
“Young man, get up. I am infusing life into that body. Please rush to the people there and tell them he is alive and not to burn him. They may not believe you and may even beat you. But please persist and ask them to have him checked by a doctor, if need be” Yama said
“I will do,Sir. What will you give me for this favour?”
“I know your need. You may apply to the Municipal Corporation for an assistant’s job in this crematorium. It will be done” he said and vanished
As the relatives were getting ready to consign the body to flame after the rituals, Biren rushed crying aloud “Hold on. Do not burn him. He is not dead. He is alive”
They were all baffled and looked at him in disbelief as if he was insane. A couple of young men caught hold of him and rained blows on him. But Biren continued “You can beat me any length. But pray do not burn him. Call a doctor and have him checked. I say with reliable authority that he is not dead”
One old man in the group shouted at the young men ” Stop it. Go and fetch any doctor nearby. I want instant action” and then turned to Biren and asked him in soft tone ”You know we are all in great grief at the loss of my young son. What made you say this? Be frank”
Biren narrated what happened and the vision he saw before it disappeared and said that he did not want to ignore it as a life was possibly at stake.
A doctor who examined the body heard faint beating of the heart and a low pulse. Things happened swiftly with the young man taken to hospital. Biren was gifted with Rs 10000 by a grateful family. His dad became happy and his mom cooked a special fish delicacy. Needless to say Biren is now overseeing the place as an office assistant under a fan with table and chair as his mom desired.