She shifted in her chair restlessly. Stirred from sleep, she heard the ventilator pumping oxygen into Amay. Various machines were hooked into his frail body keeping him alive. Amay, her only child!
She recalled the last call. Amay had been out partying with friends a few nights ago. Turning twenty-one was a milestone and with birthdays in quick succession, Siddharth and Kedar decided to make it a triple celebration. She wasn’t worried as they were all good kids and were aware of the ramifications of drunken driving.
Unfortunately for them, the car from the opposite end was driven by a middle-aged man, one who was completely sozzled. He crashed into their vehicle from the front and the impact was such that Siddharth died on the spot and Kedar battled for his life too in the adjacent room. In a moment, one young life was snuffed out and others turned topsy-turvy.
Glancing across the room, she saw what looked like a dark shadow. She reached for her glasses and blinked her eyes to adjust to the dim light in the room. It was night time and all was quiet, except the machines.
A faint outline stood at the foot of the bed, where Amay lay. She made out a dark robe on the tall figure.
“Who is it? And what are you doing standing by my son’s bed?” she asked.
“I have come to get your son. It is time for him to leave all forever and follow me.”
At those words, her body shook. She realized that she stared at Yama’s face, the God of Death.
“No! No…You can’t do that! What makes you think that you can take him away? He is my son” she cried.
“I don’t need your permission to take him away. I could have taken him away on the spot, when Siddharth followed me, without any protest.”
“But why take him? He is all that I have. Look at him, a wonderful talented boy. He has such a bright future ahead. And it was no fault of his” the mother wailed.
“Well, it was no fault of any of these kids, but the man who crashed their vehicle has a long life left, one that is full of pain and suffering, confined to the bed. And I must take a youth tonight to complete my list” Yama reasoned.
“Can you not take someone else?”
“Maybe. It depends.”
The selfish mother spoke up before she could stop herself, “So, take Kedar then. He lies in bed in the adjacent room in a critical condition. His family will make it through. He has an elder brother, you see.”
Yama thought long and hard. It didn’t matter whether it was Amay or Kedar. He was tired and wanted to put his feet up now. Seeing this old woman, he took pity.
“Okay. As you wish” saying so, he disappeared as easily as he had come.
Thus, the deathly swap occurred and the mother won, although she wept.
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