Story Corner #2
‘Nothing in his life
Became him like the leaving it.’
Macbeth (1605), Act I, scene 4, line 7.
People generally harbour intense fear and dislike to both my name and my presence. There are never any invitations or gentle reminders for Christmas or New Year or Diwali, basically any happy, joyful, ‘celebrating the new life’ event. It doesn’t matter what people think about me anyway, I am still called upon during a vengeful dispute between enemies; I am most talked about in religious institutes, hospitals and mass media. Sometimes my name is taken in vain and not to forget both figuratively and metaphorically. Still nobody ever wants me visiting them but you have to get used to all these negative affections because it plays an important part in my job description. Nevertheless, there are those occasional hard-core drug junkies, people who are suicidal and depressed, people who have or are victims to great horror (some quite traumatic for me to reiterate their stories). These particular groups of group seem to have avid demands to see me.
Suddenly, there came a turning point in my life. Out of my terrible odds, I actually found someone who doesn’t hold any sort of intense emotion towards me. I was surprised actually; Agnes Jacob Mann was then only 13 years old and she wanted to be friends with me. Little Agnes was diagnosed with Stage 4 Thyroid Cancer and she wanted to befriend unfair cancer’s true counterpart, Death. Yes, correct my dear readers, I am Death. I am Shinigami in the Japanese culture and I have various names from the different parts of the world that I visit. They call me the Grim Reaper in the West. A term, I can’t fully understand since I am a) not Grim b) I have my staccato bursts of humour and wit too and c) I don’t ‘reap’ souls; I carry them gently across to ‘the other side.’ I do come knocking on your door when your hour is up and yes it is never as easy feeling to watch the loved ones dry for the dead. When it is a child that dies, my heart (If I had one) goes out for the family and what’s most astonishing strangely enough is that a part of their soul breaks away and attaches to the dead soul. Like a cluster of butterflies in a meadow, these fragments of soul blanket the dead soul and when I cross the dead soul over, it moves peacefully into the abyss of His Creation but never alone. And that is why I firmly believe that love exists even after your soul has crossed over and faded into the light.
Getting back to my narration (I apologise I have a tendency to deviate from my plots, a recurring problem I hope that time will fix); Agnes Mann believed that all through her 13 years of existence, she had been an exceptionally gifted with various talents and her sweet, affable nature made mothers’ often term her as the correct definition of a ‘Good Girl’. The little girl au contraire saw herself metaphorically in a bell; “Hollow and always demanding attention. That what I really am most of the time” is what she’d say to no one in particular. Before the cancer dropped in for a sabbatical, Agnes was raised to always cater to her parents’ and society’s needs. Naturally, when the doctors found water in her lungs and diagnosed as to her having cancer; Agnes became a burden on her family and society or that is what she thought. Her parents’ never felt the same way but the endless chemo-therapies, the tears of everyone else that drowned her and the mass exodus of sympathies, meetings and motivational advice that always infuriated the girl. Agnes didn’t blame cancer for dropping her survival rates by 3 folds; in fact she was rather neutral on her feelings, as she was certain that she may be shortly diagnosed for psychological issues if she continues with her monotonous sick life. One morning, Agnes arrived at a consensus, not surprising as she was truly wise beyond her years, “Death, will grant me freedom and I am ready for him to come and take me to my new life.” She said to the light purple walls of her hospital room.
I am Death. I wait for no one. The little girl’s faith is admirable, for she believed that I would come for her. I am Death. I don’t give chances that’s what life does.
On the 25th of August 1984, I finally had a fortunate encounter to fulfil my little Agnes’ ‘Death Wish’. Sad. Agnes’ parents were sobbing their eyes out and hugging each other for comfort. Agnes smiled like a drawing of a smiley, her lips pressed into a thin line and spread wide apart on her face. Her eagerness to see me completely baffled me and later in the years I realised that Agnes Mann wants to die selfish and dying early and unexpectedly would fulfil that criterion.
Agnes did not pass away with me that night; she died a week later when the medicines stopped working on her and when she gave up the fight of life altogether. Her last words were to me as I carried her Soul in my arms, “I waited for you forever now. Let me start my life again please.” And that my readers’ is why I don’t understand human nature or sentiment because humans are a little weird but still extraordinary.
“Even death has a heart.”
― Markus Zusak, the Book Thief