Fifth Life17 mins 519 17 mins 519
I threw the bag and mobile on the table in disgust. The mobile rolled over and fell to the ground with a thud. I realised that I might have broken it. It was broken beyond repair, just like my life, I thought.
I sat on the easy chair and started rocking; my life itself was getting shaken!
I recollected how happy I was in the morning; getting ready for the final interview for my promotion! I chose the best dress I had, wore a matching tie, shoe, and even a brand-new handkerchief!
There were only two persons before me and the interview panel consisted of senior personnel who all knew me and most importantly, my contribution to the bank; there is no way I can fail this time, I thought.
The last person before me also came out of the room and the security, who was standing near the door motioned me to wait for a couple of minutes so that the interviewers can take few minutes of rest before meeting me.
I smiled broadly!
I have waited exactly 7 years, 4 months and 18 days, to be precise, I told myself; why not a few more minutes. But, that few minutes un-did everything!
The door opened and security ushered me inside. The minute I entered, all the four senor personnel who were sitting, smiled recognizing me and one of them indicated the chair for me to sit.
Even before the first person could speak, the telephone rang and Senior General Manager who answered the call listened; thick lines crossed his forehead.
He took a deep breath and exhaled with a sound, kept the receiver down, looked at me and said, “I am extremely sorry Kumar. I don’t know how to tell you this. I got a call from the chairman’s office that we need to stop the interview process immediately. The Government has ordered us to fill the special category quota and all general category candidates will have to wait.”
I stood up shell shocked; at the last minute, I was disqualified!
Said another gentleman on the panel who was none other than my boss, Shashidhar. “if this could be a solace to you, Kumar, even those already selected too will be on hold if they belonged to general category.”
This incident was like placing a burning iron rod on my bleeding wound; what with my wife leaving me taking along my son, what the building where I had booked my new flat collapsing even before completion?
I thought the end of the world is upon me.
I stopped rocking my chair, got up, put on my walking shoes and left for the long walk which I believed will heal the wound or at least get me some time to think what to do with my life.
The park was not all that crowded; after two rounds, I decided to sit on the bench. I removed my shoes and started rubbing my paining heels when I felt someone standing right in front of me.
I looked up to see a middle-aged man standing and staring at me. The long flowing kurta with white dhoti tied in a very unique fashion. I thought he wanted to sit, so I moved aside and the man sat down and said: “So, you are disappointed that you didn’t get the promotion, right?”
I turned towards him sharply; how the hell this stranger knew that I went for an interview!
As if he could read my mind, the man said, “I also know that your wife has left you and you lost all your savings in that building crash.”
“Who the hell are you? And how did you know I went for an interview and my other personal matters? Is this some kind of a joke?”
“Just because I am dressed up normally, you may think that I am one of those who frequent this park for a stroll; no sir, I have come here specifically to meet you, Kumar.” Said the stranger.
I lost my cool. “Which drama company you belong to? Please leave me alone. I already have my plate full.”
“That’s why I am here. Said the stranger.
I looked at the man from head to toe. His long hairs appeared normal and real and so were his dress. The slippers he wore were very expensive. I ruled out that he is cheating or a con man. Then how did he know that I attended an interview and my life is in a mess?
“Who are you? And why did you choose me to offer help? There must be a million people in this godforsaken town who needs help!”
“You can call me Yaksh, because that’s who I am. I am blessed with extraordinary powers to transform people. I chose you; you may say, by the divine?” Said the man who called himself Yaksh.
Yaksh took my hands and said, “All you need to do is just follow me across the road to a house. You will never be the same person again, I guarantee you. I have a selfish reason to help you; don’t get me wrong. I am cursed to be a Yaksh. If I need to get rid of my superpowers, I need to fulfill the wishes of a person like you, that’s all.
“What wishes? You talk as if you are God.” I said irritatingly.
“Well not God but you may say, his servant. Try me. You are unhappy being Kumar, right? You also believe that less deserving persons on this earth are getting things they don’t deserve and are happier than you. Tell me honestly, whenever you looked at some of the successful people, did you not wish to become like them? Here is a chance for you to do it. Come with me.”
Yaksh pulled me up and lead me to a house just opposite park; though I visited the park regularly, I had never noticed that house.
Yaksh opened the door with an unusually large key and lead me inside; it was a large empty room with a cot at the end. However, large strips of paper, about 6 feet or so in length and about 2 feet wide were hung from the ceiling in a semi-circle; there were five in all.
I went close and observed and looked at the first one; it had some sort of history written on it in English starting with a name!
I turned towards this man called Yaksh questioningly.
He smiled and said, “These are the people who have virtually everything that you aspire for; money, position, wealth you name it. There are five persons’ details are being hung here. You need to select serially as they are all numbered. You begin with one. Please take your time and read the details written; they will be helpful at times.”
Yaksh went to the list marked one and continued “For one full day, beginning at midnight tonight, I will put your soul in the body of the person whom you have chosen; you can enjoy being him while you retain your own senses, as Kumar. Exactly at mid-night tomorrow, you will be brought here to select the next one. But if you decide to be that person with whom you lived, all you need to do is to stop the clock you see on the wall, exactly at 11.59 with this button – Yaksh indicated. Otherwise, for the rest of your life, you will be that person.”
“Like this, you will complete all the five in the next 5 days. I know that you have already submitted leave for the next week and your mobile is not working. So, you can enjoy everything that you ever aspired for. At the end of 4th day, I will meet you here; but not before that.
Remember, once you cross the time limit of 12 mid-night after having lived as a person you can’t go back to that life again.”
Yaksh spoke and even before I could ask him some questions, he just walked out of the house and disappeared.
I checked my watch and it was close to midnight. My God, I came here in the late evening and it is already mid-night? I was confused. I grabbed the list numbered as 1 and looked at the name, Sushant.
It contained neatly written details in addition to the name, occupation and some of their accomplishments, family details oh, it was like a complete life history of an individual.
As soon as I completed reading the details, I went to the bed put out in the corner and just lay there, as advised by Yaksh, thinking what will happen next and closed my eyes.
In a fraction of a second, I was lying on another bed; a king-sized bed with an expensive-looking bed accessory and a full-size mirror at the ceiling. I saw a girl sleeping next to me and realised that it must be the wife of Sushant.
There was a large mirror on the wall and I got up, stood in front of the mirror and observed myself.
What I saw in the mirror was mind-blowing. I was a very handsome man of about 25 years or so. Gone are the scars I had on my head and instead of my bumpy nose, I had aristocrat's nose.
Wow, I whispered to myself. This is really happening. And I wore an expensive nightgown. When I looked at the rack of expensive shoes kept nearby, I realised that my entire month’s salary wouldn’t be sufficient to buy them.
Even as I was thinking of my next move, I heard someone calling Sushant and realised that they were calling me. I turned around to look at a very attractive lady who was frowning at me; it was the same lady who was lying on the bed.
“How many times do I have to call you, Sushant? Are you deaf or something? Have you forgotten that you need to be in the office by 8 in the morning?”
I mumbled something and looked at the clock on the wall. It was 6.30 in the morning!
I showered and stood in front of the wardrobe and stood still; there were hundreds or shirts and pants of all design that one could think of. I selected a light blue shirt to match the suit which I picked from another cupboard full of suits.
I looked in the mirror and smiled!
That was the last smile I had for the whole day.
I reached office just in the nick of time driving in my swanky Mercedes. The meeting room was full. I sneaked a glance at the man, possibly the MD who glared at me. As the meeting progressed, the Managing Director all but pushed me from the seventh-floor window and blamed me and my ideas for the downfall of the sales.
When I came home, the wife’s letter kept on the dining table told me that the next time I will meet her will be in court.
The grass is always greener on the other side, I thought.
Even as I contemplated my next move, I got the call from an unknown number on my cell.
I listened to the strange voice and was stunned!
“Have you kept the money ready for pick up? Don’t try anything foolish. You will land in jail along with me if I open my mouth in front of the police.” There was a pause and then the crackling voice continued.
“See you at 11. Don’t be late. Check your message for the route.”
The line got disconnected.
What’s happening with this guy called Sushant? I looked at the clock and wished that my deadline set by Yaksh gets advanced to 11 instead of 12.
Not knowing what to do, I went to the kitchen as I was hungry; I was forced to skip lunch by that man with a heavily built body who called himself, the Boss!
I was fed up of being Sushant and longed for the next body. I ate a couple of stale bread slices, loaded the briefcase with the money I found in the safe and left in my car to the destination indicated in the message on the cell.
I just dropped the bag at the place as indicated in the message and was about to turn back towards my car when I was hit on my head and I fell down with a thud.
I woke up as me once again in that dark room with that awful smelling bed. Got up to check the list no.2; there was enough light just to read few things about my new person…. a very wealthy one indeed. The clock on the wall showed 11.55. So. Just a few minutes left I thought. As usual, I went to bed and closed my eyes.
The transition to the next body was swift. I woke up to find myself in a completely different setup. It was larger and better equipped with all the gadgets one can think of; when I opened my eyes, lying on the bed I could see a large TV in the ceiling! The remote was just few inches on the marble table close to the bed.
I was alone in the bed and saw a unique bell-shaped switch and pressed it!
Lo and behold, there were three good looking nurses literally rushed towards me and asked what would I need.
I looked at them and tried to get up and realised I couldn’t; slowly I removed the bed sheet covering my body and looked down; I was shocked!
Both the legs were missing.
I looked at the attractive young nurses and indicated that I need to drink water.
They all helped me to sit and brought a table which could be put in front of me; a plethora of juices, water, and coffee, you name it were brought and kept.
Now I knew why TV in the ceiling and so many persons to help me. All three serving ladies just disappeared and a stunning lady in an expensive dress with a plethora of jewels came sliding into the room calling me.
“So, how you darling Vivek today? Are you ready to sign the papers which we discussed yesterday?”
I stared at the beautiful lady whose eyes were searching my face.
“You shouldn’t delay it any further. Your operation is scheduled for tomorrow and ….” the lady paused dramatically. “You see, because of your high level of sugar, the heart operation, I am told is very complicated by the doctors.”
I held my hand on my heart and thought; my God, already legs are missing and now they will remove the heart also?
“What paper?” I looked at her and regretted my question.
The beautiful face suddenly became very ugly indeed. “Oh? You forgot what we discussed before you went to bed? Are you trying to fool me, Vivek?”
“I am sorry…. It is just that yesterday’s medicine I believe, feeling a bit dizzy.” I said.
I was made to sign a plethora of papers and I barely glanced; except for the last one. My heart skipped a couple of beats. It was a living will! Virtually transferring everything to my beautiful wife, whose name was equally beautiful; Vijaya Raje!
I despised my new body, wealth, sicknesses and relationship it brought along. I wish I had bargained for 12 hours instead of 24 with that Yaksh, I thought, a bit late in the day.
My misery was not over yet; after getting all the paper signed and verified, the so-called sweetheart of Vivek dropped the last bomb; “doctors have confirmed that tissues match between yours and my brothers for the kidney transplantation. You don’t need two any way for the rest of the few months that you may live! We are shifting you to the hospital first thing in the morning…...” she looked at me with all the hatred in the world and with a sarcastic smile on her face she said, “finally you are becoming useful to someone.”
Fortunately for me, I have to live in this body only for a few more hours. I decided to be careful in my selection of the next life, though, it was not in my hand.
I have never felt so relieved when the clock struck 12 at night and I disappeared from that horrible place and prayed that I could meet the Yaksh.
But I was all alone in that room once again and this time, I thought I will go through all the hanging papers, read and then select, defying the rules laid down by Yaksh.
To my utter surprise, only number 3 was filled with details while the rest of them appeared to be completely blank.
I recalled what Yaksh said about the rules of the game. I have to compulsorily go through in serial order only.
I was fed up with this game already; still, managed to read the name and few details of my brand-new life which I was about to embrace.
I was shocked, to say the least, the minute I read the name.
It was none other than my boss who rejected my selection just a couple of days ago!
In a way I thought, it was a poetic justice; let me show that man what I went through I thought.
The house was comparatively small and even as I opened my eyes and looked around from my bedroom, I could see an old lady lying on the cot in the next room; there was a commotion, so I went out to see what was happening.
Two young boys were at loggerheads; literally pulling each other’s hair and taring the shirt. They stopped the minute I entered.
“Shashi…. Shashi….” The old lady called; I realised that’s what my name will be for the day and went and listened to her problems patiently.
Shashidahar' mother was to undergo an operation on that day in the afternoon for her ankle injury; wife of Shashidhar – my boss whose body I entered – had a kitty party in the afternoon and wanted to postpone the operation to another day as she can’t miss the party.
I just stood between mother and wife as each one of them presented their side of the story and finally agreed to postpone the operation.
Mother looked at me and said, “you are the worst henpecked husband I have ever seen. So, your wife’s nonsense party is more important than your mother’s ailment. God, take me away from this place.” She started wailing even as my cell phone rang.
I picked up and saw the name; it was from the Chairman’s office! I listened to the PA of chairman and stood still. I as Shashidhar was being instructed to find reasons and transfer me, Kumar, to a far-off place!
God, I banged my head to the wall. What an irony; I am going to write my own death note and there was nothing I could do about it.
What if I submitted resignation as Shashidhar? That will give me time enough to find out some way and wriggle out the miserable situation?
Even as I contemplated, I looked around and saw the dependents and despite my anger towards my boss, I pitied his position and postponed my decision.
There were more horror stories awaited me as Shashi in the office; the top brass including me are likely to face the CBI in the recent fraud and misappropriation of funds by one of the largest borrowers.
I was sure to go to jail as a scapegoat; the Chairman was unlikely to get affected; he is too powerful.
I literally ran towards home in the evening and waited for the nightfall.
I had enough. I was eager to meet Yaksh and plead him to be me, Kumar. I will fall at his feet, beg or maybe even threaten with police case or something, I thought.
Yaksh came through the door at 11.50 even as I was contemplating what to say and do.
“So? I see that you have rejected all the four lives so far as you didn’t stop the clock when you were living in their bodies. Now you have the last one; the fifth one and you have no choice but to accept it.” Said Yaksh, even as he led me by holding my hand to the last strip of the large paper.
I protested. “Yaksh or whoever you are; I had had enough. Please leave me to be myself, Kumar. I have very little problems and know how to set them right. Please?" I knelt down at his feet.
Yaksh pulled me up and led to the last paper hung from the ceiling.
I was shocked to see the name written boldly on the top; Yaksh!
“Hey, what is this? Some sort of a joke? I want to be Kumar and let me go; I don’t want to become Yaksh or any other nonsense.” I shouted, virtually.
Yaksh laughed out loudly and said. “I understand your anger. But you see, you are my way out! Since you rejected all the four lives before, you have to accept and become Yaksh so that I can go back to my normal life.”
"But, I underwent only three lives not four?" I said with surprise in my voice
Yaksh laughed out loudly, indeed. The fourth one you have to come back, because thats who you are, Kumar. But, don’t worry. There is a way out for you.
Find out someone like you who is unhappy being himself and looking at others and feeling miserable. There are millions of people in this City like Kumar; finding one shouldn’t be difficult.”
Yaksh took out the large key from his kurta pocket and keeping it in my hand said, “From now on you will have all the powers that I had; you can see through anybody and select the right one for the job you just completed. But you can’t use your power for yourself.
You know how it proceeds; once that person completes four lives, and I am sure like me and like you, he too will be desperate for the fifth life. Just do what I did today.”
Even as I looked at the large key in my hand, the man who was till now called Yaksh took my hand and shook it with all the gratitude and said, “By the way, my name is Sunil. Thanks, Yaksh.”
I just stood there even as Yaksh, sorry, Sunil went out of the door.
I felt a powerful vibration, like high voltage electricity, going through my body as I held the key.
Just five more days, then I will be myself, Kumar!
I went out, locked the room and went home whistling softly.
I have to wait for one more day before I find the next Kumar, I thought even as a smile crossed my face.