The death god (DG in short) had come down to the town in disguise like an ordinary man. He had been doing his destructive work diligently with great care from time immemorial and none were happy with him. There was no one above him to review his work or assess him. He had been entrusted with this ‘thankless’ job that only evoked fear and dread and no respect. He wished to find the reactions of people when death struck a house. It is not that he was whimsical or arbitrary in the choice of his ‘victim’ but there was a method and an unfailing system anchored on justice. He had an able assistant in Chitragupt who kept minute details of the good and bad that one did and personal record for everyone without the fancy gizmos that can splutter to a halt due to system failure. No one has ever accused him of mistake in identity though they would have liked him to spare them and visit somebody’s house nearby instead.
He inwardly smiled what would have been the consequences if his work were in the hands of an earthling in authority with his greed, corrupt ways and pronounced propensity to subvert the system. There would have been mind boggling scams with the rich and powerful remaining untouched by the icy hands of death but the death rate maintained at the expense of the poor lonely and lost. There would have been an unwritten rate for extension of life for each day. If any activist dared to question, he would be the instant victim. Luckily for mankind DG was still in charge of affairs.
As he was walking on the road, he saw a crowd at one spot craning inside a gaping hole. Someone told him that a child fell in the hole a day ago and they did not have the necessary expertise or the machinery to bring out the child dead or alive. He smiled to himself as he knew the child had died last night itself. Luckily no one was blaming him but only the municipality though the child’s mom was bewailing that Yama was blind bringing to an end the life of a child even before it had bloomed. Little did she know that the child was indeed blessed to depart so soon and had no bad karma to linger longer? Her grief was immeasurable though.
An old beggar lay dead unclaimed on the platform. Everyone walked past him with their nostrils closed by hankies and again the municipality was the butt of their anger and no one thought of DG
It was at the death of a young woman stricken with cancer and who had three small children that the entire crowd of mourners cursed him for his cruel and insensitive snatching of a young life. The wailing children and sobbing husband was a pathetic sight even to DG known for his calm and stoic demeanour. But in his job there was no place for emotion or special dispensation. It was her past karma that gave her this sad and short life.
The scene was different at the violent death at the hands of an assassin of a middle level political functionary known for his corrupt ways, immoral life and dadagiri that had a huge crowd of his followers restless and wanting a vent to let out their emotions on public property.DG was never in their radar. The common folk in the area seemed pleased at the ‘leader’s’ departure and had no grouse against DG for doing his duty.
Strange was the scene at another house where DG heard someone calling him by name Yama dharma Raja. He peeped in to find an old lady in her late 80s who lay on a mat on the ground coughing intermittently and turning her body in pain or hunger DG knew not what. He found the house folks before TV happily watching a music serial unmindful of the suffering of the old woman. She was muttering “Dharma raja, won’t you take me away? Enough of this wretched life, I do not wish to be a burden anymore and suffer unwanted and uncared for. Take me away immediately.” He knew her time had not come and that she was destined to suffer for a few months more. Though he pitied her, he could not abridge her life before the predetermined time.
But he never had entered any house without taking a life. The next day morning the household woke up to witness their cow dead. Someone said heartlessly “Yama could have taken that useless old woman instead of the cow that yielded good amount of milk daily”: to the accompaniment of approving nods.
Yama let out a sigh in disgust and left for his abode