Friday, October 24, 2014

And then there were no numbers

Xanxsosi was a devout Lapelarian. He had taken Lapelar's name fifty times a day all through his life, just as the Toxoh had commanded. Now on his deathbed, he said 'Xi kom Lapelar' (Here I come Lapelar) softly to himself. Then he calmly turned to his wife and said, 'I'm ready, dear'. He had already said his good-byes to his family earlier, so there was no reason for more talk. His wife took Lapelar's name, turned off the respirator, wiped the tears from her eyes and walked out of the room.

Xanxsosi knew the science of what was about to happen to him. He had studied this well while preparing himself for his death. Being in the business of science himself, he was dispassionately able to assess the amount of pain and suffering he would have to endure if he went the way he was planning to go. 'A few minutes of extreme discomfort were worth eternity in Lapelar's kingdom', he had convinced himself and his family in the days and months prior. 'Besides', he reasoned, 'what was the point in living like a vegetable and causing extreme inconvenience and pain to others?'

Over time, he had formed a complete mental picture of how Lapelar's kingdom might be. He'd get to see his parents who had preceded him by thirty years. And Koxsisi, his brother who had died in a fiery car crash not too long ago. He especially was looking forward to meeting Kibsisa, his childhood sweetheart, who he had heard had passed away due to a heart attack several years ago and Pinso, his beloved German Shepherd. He was a tad afraid of meeting Lapelar. He knew he had disobeyed Lapelar on several occasions in his life and that there would be a price to pay once he got to Vaixuns. But he was ready to do his penance and begin eternal life.

Hypoxia set in between the second and fourth minutes after the respirator had stopped working on his behalf. Cardiac arrest followed soon after. Starved of fresh oxygen and unable to be replenished by fresh blood, his brain cells began playing out their endgame. A sudden flash of white light was followed by what felt like a few minutes of intense rain. Once the rain subsided, he clearly saw Vaixuns in the distance. 'Lapelar, xi kom, xi kom Lapelar', he said once more. He had never felt this way all his life. There was a certain lightness to his presence. Everything seemed a brilliant bright, as though the word had new meaning to him.

For reasons he was unable to fathom, though, he remembered at that instant an incident Xobise, his neighbor had recounted when he was rescued from drowning in the Xongo river. Xobise, a Kiskotist, had seen something eerily similar in the few minutes after drowning before being miraculously spotted by the rescuers and pulled out from the water. There was the same flash of white light, the rain. But Xobise had not seen Vaixuns as Xansosi now saw before him. Instead, the Kiskotist had been ushered in by the angels to the ethereal lake, where he had cleansed himself. And before he could experience anything more, the rescuers had resuscitated him back to life.

Xanxsosi felt a strange sense of insecurity grip him. He had suddenly realized that his religious belief and Xobise's had all but their respective Gods in common. They had each formed mental pictures of how their heavens would be and their brains had simply played these out by combining remnants of their memory with the vestiges of their consciousness in the last moments of their lives. The last moments of his life at any rate. Xobise had of course gone on to live a healthy and productive life after his tryst with Kiskotist heaven.

The sense of lightness Xanxsosi had felt just moments ago was replaced by intense pain, the exceptional effulgence by an all-pervading blackness.
'Black', he thought amusedly to himself - '0, 0, 0'. And then there were no numbers.

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