The Thin Line Of Hope
“Hope is a wonderful thing. It’s the thin line which often separates life from a life not worth living for. The absence of hope is the greatest tragedy of human life. Especially when humans lose hope just when their life is going to take a turn for the better and make some hasty decisions. Of course, humans can’t see the future as we do and that’s the beauty of hope. They have to believe in it, believe that life is going to turn on its head for them in the very near future. That a benevolent god is up there watching over them and he sends angels like us down to earth to walk with them in their most care-worn states. That belief and the hope it generates is what human life worth fighting for. Loss of that belief and consequent hope for the future results in such cases” he gestured to the prone figure on the bed battling for life “and just when her life was about to get better she has taken poison to kill herself. And now we just have to wait here for the grim reaper to come collect his toll”. “But” the cherub asked the senior angel “can’t we do something?” It was its first day on the job and it was still learning the ropes “can’t we, like, turn back time and show her a little hope? Give her hints that she just has to pass over this bump in her life to be happy again?”
“Ahh”, the senior angel shook his wise head negatively “that’s just what we are forbidden to do little one. Remember the fight over the first man Adam’s creation?” he winked as he didn’t want to mention the ungodly revolt even here on earth for god had eyes and ears everywhere “well, God in his everlasting benevolence granted Adam and his progeny the gift of free will. It’s up to the humans how they use it. To better themselves or to fall into temptations. And we are forbidden to interfere in their choices even if they make some such stupid decisions like taking their own lives”. He stood there wings folded staring pensively at the woman on the bed now whooping great gasps trying to suck in air as the poison started taking greater effect. “Now look at this girl, would you believe that six months ago she was a bright and cheerful girl always with a smile on her face? Then she lost her mother, her father a drunk, disappeared around the same time and she joined up as a domestic help in a wealthy household. And that’s where the seeds of her destruction were sowed. It took six months, but that family was the one which killed her today”.
“An entire family were responsible for her taking poison?” the newest cherub to join the angels asked aghast “how is that possible? Wasn’t there even a single person in that household with a little pity in their heart?” the senior angel looked oddly at him and then making a decision “No, that single family was the epitome of all human vices- there was lechery, greed, jealousy and hate but no redeeming features in them. All in all, I would say, they are a typical human family. I think it would be better if you saw for yourself so come with me” he said, “and I will show how she ended up like this today” and taking the little cherub with him the senior angel flew off to visit Seth Narotamdas Damodardas, the wealthy philanthropist and benefactor of many temples, ngo’s and cows.
They entered a massive villa built like a replica of the Jaipur palace and the first person they saw on flying in through a first floor bedroom window was a young man snoring away on a palatial bed in an alcohol induced haze. “This is Pankaj, the only son and heir of Sethji’s vast business empire of beedi and gutka” said the angel “and also the father of the unborn child in the dead girls womb. While pankaj got her pregnant with his tender profession of love, beguiling the innocent little fool fresh from the village, it was his father sethji who drove her out of the family mansion for daring to accuse his son of being the father of her child. Sethji was angry beyond words because he knew any word of this leaking out would damage the marriage prospects of his son to some other rich business family.
And how do you guess the whole affair came to light? It was jealousy which did it. The Seth’s daughter Neerja hated the servant girl from the first, hated that even in her rags and grime she looked far lovelier than the bejeweled Neerja. She especially hated her because her fiancée, Paresh had once spent an entire dinner staring at the servant maid as she served at the table. Though plain and ugly Neerja has a haughty heart, a heart which cannot countenance playing second fiddle to anyone and she bore spite from that moment on towards the maid. And when she found out the idle dalliance between her wastrel brother and the maid she couldn’t wait to run in and inform her father and mother. Sethji was a tad less guilty in that he only dismissed the maid and sent her out to starve in the streets, it was his wife madamji -Manju madam, who not only hid her gold ornaments but made sure that the seth file a police complaint against the poor girl and had her arrested and sent to jail for her temerity in beguiling her innocent son. She was also responsible for spreading the word around in all the voluntary organizations and women’s rights organizations she served in, that anyone having the intention to help this particular girl would earn the undying wrath of the seth’s whole family.
The poor girl was driven to begging on the streets to satisfy the hunger pangs of her unborn child in the womb. She couldn’t eat enough to feed herself let alone the child gnawing in her belly even though she spent all day on her feet begging for work, some work which would allow her to live with dignity or at least feed her babe. But society, human society is a cruel, cruel thing, humans have no pity on those who are down on their luck, they avoid them like the plague to make sure that their ill-luck doesn’t rub off on others. If only they knew that nothing is ever so simple” the senior angel sighed “just this afternoon this girl fell down on the street dashed by a passing motorcar and when she reached her tenement she found her petticoats running with rivulets of blood and she felt she had lost her child, the only thing which had made her current life worth bearing and unable to face such a bleak future she took the easy way out, the only way she knew to end her misery in one stroke by swallowing a packet of poison”.
The cherub was aghast “senior angel ji you speak as if sympathizing with the action of this human. Hasn’t god expressly forbidden taking self-life by humans? Isn’t it a great sin?”. The senior angel smiled cynically “yes god, has said that, he has had it written down by his prophets and messengers and had it widely disseminated to everyone. But, you know, humans, they are a weak souled species, they cant take adversity and attribute it to gods way of testing them before rewarding them. They are so short sighted and short lived that the trials and miseries of a few years breaks their will to live”. He continued the lesson to the young apprentice “Now take this girl for instance, in a few months there’s a going to be a major car crash and the sethji, his wife and daughter are all going to die. The seth’s son, this girls lover is going to be crippled and he is going to come crawling back to her to marry him and restore to her rightful place as his wife”.
“But, but” the cherub spluttered “she’s dying right now and how can all this come to pass if she dies tonight?”. The senior angel signed long and deeply and said “exactly, that’s why I said humans are so short sighted. If only she hadn’t taken the extreme step of taking her own life tonight, her life in a few months would have seen a miraculous turnaround. But that’s free will for you- that which the humans alone were deemed worthy to receive from god and not even we angels got”. The cherub was impressed by the gravity of the senior angel’s pronouncement “so the humans have got better than us? Are they that special to god? Don’t we angels deserve something too? For following gods will without question? While they get to have free will, hope and every kindness in gods power to grant?”.
The perturbation of the little cherub brought a smile to the angels face but when the senior angel smiled this time, it was an ugly smile full of hidden menace “yes they have free will. Yes they have hope. But we, my dear cherub have got the power to break their hopes, merely by standing by and not doing anything to help them. And can you guess the best way to break hope in someone? You don’t break them, you just break something they love and if it’s something which loves them back that’s even better. That’s how they lose hope and give up themselves. And that’s how we angels get our revenge on mankind”. He smiled as gaily as if he had won a great prize.
For hope is indeed a precious gift for mankind and we humans treat it as if it doesn’t matter.
P.S. I have written a lot of short stories- crime fiction, science fiction, social fiction etc but I have never yet written a moral story, something which has a message for the reader. I have been re-reading a lot of my favorite Russian authors- Tolstoy, Chekov, etal and under their influence I have tried to write a honest-to-god message oriented short story for the first time in my life. I expect reader’s feedback to see how far I still have to go to improve. Do write in with your suggestions.