I watch from a distance as they burn the pyre. You must be wondering whose pyre it is. How silly! It's mine. They are burning my dead body. Oh! I see them crying so much. Neha, my wife. My children Ashish and Suhana. Ashish is the elder one, but he is still a kid. Oh! I see tears in his eyes. He just cannot get me off his mind. For a welcome change, I can read minds now. For example, that distant uncle standing over there. I know he is faking his sadness. He hardly has any feelings for me, but while alive I thought he cared about me. How wrong I was!
But Neha! Oh! She is crying inconsolably. She is totally unable to come to terms with the sudden loss. I wish I could tell her that I also feel equally sad, leaving them. I feel a strong pull from above and I feel so happy.
You know, Neha. I do not feel any pain anymore. You may have seen how much I bled. But I feel no pain now. Magically it all healed the moment I left the body.
Suhana is still too young. God! She is just 2 years old, but she probably also misses her papa. I wish I could hug her one last time. Let me do that. I go close to her and try to touch her, but no. I fail to. Even worse, she cries out loud, every time I try to touch her. Probably afraid of my body-less existence? I do not know. I am guessing.
Ah! Neha is still crying and thinking about me. She is still thinking about all the good times we spent together, about our promises. Ah!
I want to tell her so many things. I want to tell her that I am still there. Still around her. Yes, I cannot touch you Neha and you cannot see or touch me, but that's the only limitation. I am still around as long as I am not forced to take another birth.
Oh! But do I wish to take another birth? Do I want to re-live everything? Do I want to go through all the pain and pleasure, all over again? I don't know.
Light! So much light! It's pulling me now towards it. Ah! It feels so good. So calm! But Neha, Ashish, Suhana, I miss you dears. But they are not letting me stay.
I... I just need to go. If I miss the light this time, I will not be able to go again.
But, but. there is something I need to fix. My friend Naveen... I thought he was my friend. But as I see him standing there and reading his mind, I know he is silently eyeing Neha. He does not have good intentions. He had been very close to our family and I really thought that he was a dear friend. But no! Reality is different.
There... I see him consoling Neha. She has kept her head on his shoulders and he is just faking tears. He eyes my property. If he has his way, he will simply exploit her and destroy her, taking advantage of her unsuspecting nature.
So much evil in this world! I have to stop him. How can I? What if I kill him? Yes!
I will kill him, then he cannot do anything bad to my family. I can still hear his mind aloud. Full of garbage and dirty thoughts. Such a pervert!
I have come close to him. I wish I could just throw him to the nearby river. He cannot swim. But I cannot touch anything.
What if! What if I hallucinate him when he drives his car tonight. Yes! That's what I'll do. Then I can leave peacefully.
Is my body burnt yet? Electric burning takes so much time. I just hate it. That body was worthless, already worn out and that accident caused unnecessary limb damage. Thank God I am not alive! Would have spent rest of my life like a cripple!
Ah! Now they are moving. Let me go see. Yes, there are my body's ashes. Cast them away somewhere, but for heaven's sake don't pollute the river. I am not just my body. I am much more than that!
That water would tomorrow be used for washing clothes and even drinking! And they then ask why so much of disease!
(Shaking my headless head in disbelief.)
My family is leaving now. Good. Naveen is still around.
"Neha, let me drop you home?"
"It's okay. My chauffeur is here tonight."
Oh! She is still crying.
Honey, I'll be by your side tonight. Don't you worry? But I have something to take care of, before that.
After around an hour, I reach my home. Everyone is just so sad. Little Suhana has fallen asleep, poor girl. I go close and kiss her, though I know she won't feel anything. Asish is still awake. As usual, playing with his social media accounts. He is busy writing something in my memory. Oh! Son, you should have selected a better photograph. I look so bald in this one! Idiot!
Neha is lying down by Suhana's side. Still wiping tears. I go lay closeby. I try to hug her. But oh! Did she feel me? She suddenly sits up. Her vision has a look of disbelief and fear! Honey, it's me!
She got up and switched on the light. Asish is in the other room.
"Asish, can you come here, please. Come get some sleep, son."
"Mom, am coming, give me 5 mins."
Now, Neha breaks down again.
"Sunil, why did you leave us, so soon!"
I wish I could reply and she could listen.
I am still around honey. You just cannot feel me. And believe me, I have ensured your secure future. I have ensured that the rogue is taken out. Don't feel sad. This is what life is all about. I played my role as long as I was allowed to. You also do the same. Don't miss me, okay? I know you cannot hear any of it. But I am kind of hoping, against hope that you get the gist. I am hoping that you feel it when the lovely fragrance of the morning lily rejuvenates you first thing in the morning tomorrow.
I wish I could, maybe, write a letter to you. I could probably still do that if I am able to take control of Asish for a few minutes, but I am worried that might destabilize him and I do not want to impact his health.
Ah! I need to go. I need to go! Don't miss me. I am still around. Whenever you think of me, I will be alive in your memory. I will help you replay everything from scratch.
Neha had fallen asleep, she did not know when. She was awakened by the incessant telephone ring.
What time is it? Oh, 9 a.m. already. Suhana had awakened and Asish was trying to pacify her.
"Asish, go take the call, I'll look after Suhana!"
Asish goes but then he is back in a minute.
"Mom, Neeta aunty. The call is for you."
Reluctantly Neha goes to take the call, her eyes still swollen after last night's ordeal.
"Neha, how are you? Did everything happen smoothly last night? Did your relatives arrive?"
"Aunty! They will be here at any moment. Yesterday Naveen was there! He helped me a lot! And of course, uncle was there too!"
"Naveen was there? Means you do not know yet?"
"Naveen expired early morning today in the Little Angel Hospital."
"He was probably driving back from Sunil's funeral. He hit a roadside tree. He had no one else in his car. The police took him to the hospital, but after fighting for life for around 2 hours, he gave up. Your uncle has gone to the hospital after hearing about it. He hardly had any sleep after returning from the funeral last night and now this..."
Aunty kept on speaking but Neha had stopped listening long back.
She kept thinking - Why? Just coincidence or more! It seemed she had lost her capacity to think!
Just then a fresh fragrance of the morning Lily enthralled her. She looked at her balcony. Lovely flowers this morning. She lost her train of thought for a moment.
Amidst all the sadness, she still felt rejuvenated. Suddenly she started talking to herself -
"Sunil, you loved these flowers. Today they remind me of you. Wherever you are, may you find peace..."
She let out a feeble smile at the end.
Somewhere close by, a shadow did a little dance hearing her.