I was about to sit down and have my dinner when I heard a knock on the door. I placed my fork and spoon and walked over to the door, opened it and there he was, wearing a black suit, tucked in a white shirt with a grey tie. His hair was combed sideways and he had this amazing radiant face. Except he had dark circles around his eyes to suggest that he had lack of sleep.
“I’m sorry. I don’t want anything,” I said as I tried shutting the door when he placed his foot to stop me.
“Oh no. I’m not a salesman. I’m Death.” he said smilingly.
Feeling curious I asked, “Well, what the hell are you doing here?”
He didn’t answer my question. Rather, he asked me if he could join me for dinner. I looked over my shoulder to see my hot steaming plate of spaghetti in the plate waiting for me. There was extra in the bowl next to my plate.
“Sure. Come on in,” I said as I opened the door. He walked in and takes a look around my living room.
“It’s a nice place you have here.” he said.
“Why, thank you.” I sat on my dinner table. Death sat opposite me and I filled a plate with dinner and placed it before him.
“Thank you.” Death, after everything people said about him, seemed like a very well mannered person. Unlike those stories you hear where he has his scythe and wears a black hood and all. I observed him from head to toe. To be honest, he could have easily passed out as a salesman. No! A businessman for that matter.
“Where’s your scythe?” I asked.
“Oh! I don’t use that. It’s a huge misconception. A misunderstanding of sorts.”
“So, you’ve never used a scythe before?”
“No. Never. It’s just an old wives’ tale about me wearing black robes with a scythe in hand. To scare the kids.”
The dinner was already getting cold and so I obliged him to start the dinner. Halfway through it, as we were having the dinner silently, he said, “The spaghetti is excellent! You’re a phenomenal cook.”
“Thank you. I learnt how to make it through Youtube.”
“Ah the pros of having the internet.” he said as he munched on dinner. He had good table manners and closed his mouth while he ate. Unlike me, I was chewing the food with my mouth open and talking with my mouth full.
“So how is it, being Death?” I asked still chewing away.
“Well, it’s dead boring.”
I laughed. “Why is it so?”
“The usual. I do the same thing everyday, over and over again.”
“Yeah I feel you.” I replied. I do understand his situation. I mean, I work in an office where I clock in at 9 and end work at 5, things get repetitive. It becomes boring at some point.
“Why not spice things up?” I asked.
“I do, once in a while.”
“I have my ways.” he smiled as he wiped his mouth with the handkerchief. “Thank you for the food. May I have a glass of water please?”
“Sure.” I went over to the sink, poured him a glass of water. He gulped it slowly and then placed the empty glass on the table. “Thank you very much. The weather’s really hot.”
“Why don’t you remove your coat?”
“No but thank you. I’m fine like this.” He said as he relaxed himself in the chair.
“Everyone views Death as something scary. How come you’re not scary? You seem pleasant for Death.” I asked.
He placed his fingers together, elbows on the table and moved closer. “That’s the thing. Everyone seems to misunderstand me.”
“I don’t blame them. You tend to bring a lot of grief when you come.”
“Do you find it a grief when I come? Was I ever a burden to you?” he asked.
I thought for a bit and then said, “Well, I did to be honest. I was still a kid. I loved my pet bird alot. So did I love my grandma and father. I was very sad when you took them away.”
“I’m sorry.” he said. “I was just doing my job.”
“It’s okay. You thought me a thing or two.” I wiped my mouth with the handkerchief.
“How so?” It was his turn to ask.
“Well, I realised that nothing’s permanent. Everything that has a beginning, has an end. So in that sense, I became sort of wiser. Made use of my time.”
”Did you make full use of your time? Are you happy?”
”Yes I am. I think I enjoy living. I’m working, earning, everything’s alright. There are mishaps here and there but hey, that’s life!”
”I see..” he said as he closed his eyes taking in what I had to say.
“So how do you normally work?” My turn to ask.
“Well, I work throughout the clock. Everyday. Minute by minute. There’s never a moment when I’m not busy.”
“But you’re quite not so busy now.” I laughed.
“That’s the thing. I’m still working.” He smiled.
“I’m afraid I don’t get you.”
“It’s alright.” he said as he glanced at his watch.
I observed him. He looked up back at me and smiled. He always had this satisfied smile playing on his lips. It’s like as though, he found everything around him to be a non-serious matter. Everything.. amusing.
“Do you enjoy doing your job?”
“Enjoy?” he asked.
“Well, how do I put it?” he scratched his clean shaven chin. “I wouldn’t really say I enjoy doing my job. I’m satisfied with it. Just like you are with life. I mean, who else can do this but me? And who else would want to do it anyway?”
He had a point. I felt sort of sorry for him. Being stuck, doing a job that no one wants to do. I mean, who would want to go door-to-door picking up souls. It’s a chore. And then seeing people cry. And the depart cry. It’s a tedious process.
“Have you ever encountered people who didn’t want to die?”
“Yes I have. But they have to because they already were dead.”
“I beg your pardon?” I didn’t quite understand what he just said.
“It’s like the rain. Whether you like it or not, if it has to rain, it has to rain. You can’t stop it from happening can you?”
“That’s right. But have you ever prolonged a time period for someone? You know, sort of feel sorry for this person and give him or her a reprieve.”
“No. I take my work very seriously. Because if I ever do that, the consequences is tremendous. It would impact alot of other things.”
“So when someone has to die, that person dies regardless of whether he pleads for extra time or not. Correct?”
“That’s absolutely correct.”
We sat staring at each other silently. It was beginning to get awkward when I realised I had to wash the dishes. I stood up.
“Here.” I said as I picked his plate up. “Let me wash these.” I turned to get to the sink.
“Thank you but it’s not necessary.”
I turned and asked him, “Why not?”
He stood up, smiled and said, “Because dead people don’t wash their dishes.”
The inspiration for this post came after a conversation with a friend about death. The whole idea, the premise of this story came from him. I just merely wrote it into words. For that, he needs to be thanked. Thank you for the inspiration for this story, Navin Raj.