Moving On – Part 1

They met on the way up. Both were achievers at the top of their game and with a great sense of accomplishment where their working life was concerned. At the same time, both valued family above everything else. Both came from big, close-knit families. One hailed from the North and the other from the South of India. Both had gone through very similar experiences, good and bad.

They completed the registration formalities at the gate and entered almost at the same time. They smiled at each other, two strangers meeting at a crossroad.

“Hi, I’m Vishwa”, said the man from the South. “Nice to meet you Vishwa, I’m Sikander”, said the man from the North. Soon they were exchanging stories, reminiscing about friends, family, work and a lifetime worth of experiences.

They lost track of time, deeply in conversation with each other. Although they were happy to be here, to be chosen for this opportunity, they both missed their families and each could see it in the sadness reflected in the other’s eyes.

Soon, the room filled up as more people signed up at the gate and took a seat. As soon as everyone had settled, a woman arrived. Her face was lit up with a smile that reflected her love and compassion. Everyone fell silent as she began to speak in an almost melodious tone. Her voice was ethereal, and soon they were lost in it. There was no sense of time or urgency here. For all they knew, they had spent an entire day listening to her voice. Or an entire year.

As they listened, their life flashed past them, as if playing on a screen in front of their eyes. It was like a movie in which they were cast as the hero!

With a mixture of love, nostalgia and pain, Vishwa and Sikander saw their wives. Vishwa’s wife was busy teaching the kids in school. She taught English to the children in school and Vishwa saw her now, explaining figures of speech to a class full of attentive children. He loved and respected his wife, and was always aware of what an impact her job was having on the next generation. She was literally shaping the future, one grammar lesson at a time.

Sikander saw his wife just back from work, tired but happy. She had been in the middle of a long procedure, at the end of which she had successfully delivered twin babies. After a long day at work all she wanted to do was curl into bed but she pulled herself together and got everyone together at the dinner table for a quick catch up of the day over dinner. Sikander was bursting with pride, his wife was a strong woman who held the family together with sheer will, grit, determination – all topped with a huge dollop of love.

Their heart filled with love and joy as they saw their children grow up and carve out lives for themselves. Their sons and daughters married and started their own families, while pursuing rich, fruitful careers. Vishwa and Sikander re-lived their parenting experience right from the children arriving into the world all the way to teaching them, showing them right from wrong and watching them grow from children into responsible, well-rounded adults.

They laughed heartily with pure joy when they saw themselves having fun with their little grandchildren in the park, cute little bundles of joy romping together without a care in the world. While Vishwa’s grandson pulled at his granddaughter’s pigtails causing an uproar in the park, Sikander’s grandkids were squealing as they went up and down on a seesaw, hair flying, eyes bright with the tears brought on by the wind. They both laughed watching their next generation’s antics and seeing the love under it all.

After what seemed like an eternity in a minute, Vishwa and Sikander turned to look at each other, eyes moist.

“You miss them don’t you?” said Vishwa and added without waiting for an answer, “I miss them too. Not a moment goes by thinking about them, wondering how they are going to cope with this long separation. While I am looking forward to what’s next, I am also worried about them. I want to trust in my upbringing, in the values I have imparted to them to see them through, and I want to believe that no matter what, they will present a united front to the world. But I cannot shake the single thought running within me right now – what if I was the glue that brought them together? How then will my prolonged absence affect their relationship and synergy?”

Sikander placed a gentle hand on Vishwa’s shoulder in reassurance. “Vishwa, I don’t think there is a single person here who is not having similar thoughts. I too am worried for my family, and how they will cope with this situation. My wife is a strong woman, just as I am sure your wife is. If nothing else, I trust she will keep the family united until we are all together again.”

Both fell silent, lost in thought and contemplation. Slowly they heard the silence envelop the entire room. It was like every single person in that room was in deep contemplation, pondering their life’s work and the significance of it all. Here and there, a few muffled sobs could be heard, mostly from women who had signed up for this journey and were experiencing an unprecedented level of emotional upheaval.

The woman began to speak again and almost immediately had everyone’s attention. “It is time… time to let go, time to move on, time to trust and believe. But there is one last thing. If any of you would like one last look at your families and how they are doing right this minute, please stay. The others can move on to the gate at the other end of the room and begin the next phase of your journey. We understand it will be a long time before you see them again, and offer you this opportunity to see them one last time.”

A few men and women got up and moved to the gate at the end of the room, looking content with their decision. But the majority of the crowd stayed back. Including Vishwa and Sikander.

“I must add something though. You might not like what you see. You might want to leave this room with the pleasant memories you hold of your time with your families. If you are prepared for the truth, whatever it may be, all you need to do is close your eyes and you will see them.”

Realisation dawned hard and true. The registration they had just completed was for a ticket to Heaven. And this room between Earth and Heaven was to give them time to come to terms with their passing, and see their family one last time before they moved on.

Author’s Note – Part 2 Continues Here

Drawn by Mrs. Lakshmi Kumar, Painted by Dr. Anisha Kumar
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