One Hundred Days to Live

5 min


5

There was a strange commotion in the school. Every one seemed agitated .The children were whispering even in Mr. Mathews’ class.  He, their English teacher seemed to have lost his smirk .He  looked worried and hurried away immediately after the bell rang. “ What could be the reason?” Victor wondered.

Victor was happy that he was spared his teacher’s rude remarks.  He wasn’t able to show him his homework. He  pretended to have forgotten his notebook at home and to his surprise he believed him.

Another surprise was waiting for him. At break ,he found Tom surrounded by curious children. Children generally avoided him for they were scared of him.Out of curiosity he asked one of his friends ,” what has happened to Tom ? He is all changed .”

“Go ask him, he seems to have gone off his head, says something is going to strike the earth,” he told him.

Tom was a regular bully who loved to scare innocent victims. He appeared thoughtful and amiable.He was still thinking when Mark , his best friend called out to him. Mark was an emaciated , ginger haired boy, Tom’s permanent victim because of his appearance.

“ Have you heard something?” He said as soon as he reached near him.

”What?” Victor asked.

” A huge asteroid will strike the earth exactly after 100 days. Everyone will perish.”

“Who told you about it?”

“ It was in the news. Entire school  is talking about it.”

In spite of the looming danger , Mark seemed happy. He cheerfully chatted about his excursions in the
nearby hills and invited even Victor to join in the fun.

****************

Everything seemed normal at home.Mom was busy in the kitchen . Martha was seated at the dinner table along with her silly friends. They were giggling and talking as usual.

“ Mom, is it true that an asteroid will strike the earth and we will perish .” He asked as soon as he entered.
She  hadn’t heard about it. “ Why is your mind stuffed with such idiotic things ?” She asked,” don’t scare the girls.”
“But mom—,” he tried to tell her . She told him to shut up.

Victor had no idea why she never believed him. He felt frustrated.

She didn’t even allow him to switch on the TV.

Dad had gone to attend a business meeting. He came in the evening all flustered and agitated.

He immediately sat before the TV . Every channel was showing the news about impending collision.

*******************

A meeting was held to decide whether the school should be kept open or it should be closed allowing children to enjoy the last few days of their lives.

Panicky staff was of the view that under such circumstances teaching was difficult and even useless.

Principal Mrs.Trump felt that if the school was closed, they would go mad with anxiety within a week.

Ultimately, it was decided that they should continue as before, but those who didn’t want to attend, would be exempted.

*********************
Grandma had become more religious. Victor could see her telling the beads of her rosary all the time.

Better still, she had started being less strict with him.She had opened her treasure for them .Martha was able to get quaint little dolls and grandma helped her stitch new dresses for them.

Grandma had boxes of pretty laces ,sequins, beads that nobody was allowed to touch previously. Now these were easily passed on to Martha. She took up knitting and embroidery once again and started making beautiful things for them.

He could see teary-eyed mom ask her what was the use of all this when they were about to die.

“ Let me do whatever I want before I die, We have no time left.” Grandma told her.

Grandma was very old. Mark had told him that the old people die early. Victor  asked her,” Nanna, why are you so worried ? Even otherwise you are going to die soon.”

”I am not scared for myself, I have lived my life . I  think about all of you. I wish all of you to live a long life.” She said.

Mom scolded him for being rude to her but Tom felt that that was a reality.

*********************

It had been raining all night. Martha was scared as usual .”Mom ,will  lightening fall on our house and burn it down?”

“Where would we go in case our streets are flooded?”

She had always been so silly , asking silly questions.She never enjoyed rains . Victor had tried to drag her outside many a times, but she always resisted.

But now he himself was slightly afraid .  Not exactly afraid ,new development had forced him to think.He could not make fun of her.

“What difference will it make Martha if we die today or after a few days?”  he asked philosophically.

Mom told him to shut up .She hugged Martha and cried softly.

Victor had a vague idea about death. He had seen his old dog Devil die last year. He had cried bitterly and felt lost for months together. Dad had to bring a new puppy for him. Still he missed Devil .

Grandma had tried to convince him that Devil  was fine. He had simply gone to the House  of God where all of them would ultimately go and meet him. (Imagine Devil going to House of God! ) .God had called him earlier because he might have needed him. He should think how happy he would be when they all went there and met him.

Victor could picture him running to him with his tail wagging frantically, jumping for joy and licking him.

Grandma had changed his concept about death. Why she was worried herself. Victor could not understand. While everyone else appeared scared, he was blissfully unafraid of impending catastrophe.

*************************
Mom and Dad were contemplating selling everything and shifting to India . Many other people in the area were thinking on the same lines .

“ The impact of collision will be the least in that part of the earth. Most probably the people there will survive.” was the view of some of the scientists.

Grandma refused to go. “ What would be the use of leaving our own place and friends when we  are not sure of meeting them again? Let’s make the most of our remaining days.”

Even Victor didn’t want to go anywhere leaving his village.

**************************

There was a drastic change in the behaviour of the people. Even sullen looking uncle James had become friendly .
Village women were rarely seen gossiping in the lanes .They talked of spiritual or philosophical matters and were seen advising the children.

Victor tried his best to avoid them.It was utterly boring for him.” Why to waste a few precious days left? “He had decided to make the most of these.

Most of the people had started spending time with their families and friends.

Even those who had never attended the church beforehand had suddenly become devout Christians .

**************************

“ Mom, do you know Sophie is getting married to Jim ?”

“What ?”  Mom couldn’t believe her ears. “Are you sure ?”

They would’ve made the sweetest couple but their parents were against this match . Sophie’s father had threatened to murder Jim in case they got married,

“ I don’t want my beautiful daughter to get married to this useless fellow. She should better remain unmarried.” Sophie’s father had declared.

The news came as a shock to Victor .  He hated Martha for being so delighted .

Victor had a strong  reason to sulk .

. “ Sophie is so beautiful. Jim doesn’t deserve her at all .”  

He intended to grow up soon and marry her.

**************************

He talked to Mark about it in the school.

“ Why do you worry ? “ Wise Mark consoled him ,” When everyone is about to die ,how can they survive?  It will be easier for you to get married to her in the next birth. Nobody will have any objection about your age .”

Victor blushed to remember that two months ago he had expressed his desire to marry Sophie . She was so much amused by this proposal by a nine year old that she kissed him on the forehead and told everyone about it.

Mark’s idea made sense to Victor. He was almost happy .He was even looking forward to having fun at her marriage.

*********************
He had started counting days to the next birth as it held promises for him. He wasn’t sure whether the God would create the  New world immediately after the catastrophe or He would wait.

“ Who can tell me? “

There were two persons on whom he could rely . One was the village priest but for the time being he was too busy to attend to him.

Almost everyone was going to the church as they had to make confessions . They wanted  to atone for their sins before the calamity struck. So that the gates of Heaven are not closed for them.

Another one who could solve this dilemma was grandma.  But she would tell it to mom and dad and especially Martha.

He didn’t want to be mocked at by her, so he kept his secret to himself.

**************************

As the day of disaster was approaching , Victor was becoming more and more restless.  Even the idea of meeting Devil in the Heaven or getting married to Sophie in the next birth wasn’t able to cheer him up. The thought of going away from grandma,his parents and Martha was making him anxious.

He had started liking Martha. She was a little silly, but not bad at all.

He was worried about his treasure also . All the marbles, sea shells, feathers , toys and strange objects he had collected from the woods. What would become of them ?

He had started having panic attacks at night . Entire family had started spending nights in one room, trying to talk and console each other. They slept fitfully.

*************/*********************
And then it came — an unbelievable news . Martha came in running.” Mom , please switch on the T. V. Everyone is saying that there won’t be any collision.”

“ Catastrophe averted ! The huge asteroid that was to strike the earth in five days has changed its course. Our  earth is safe.” A visibly jubilant newsreader declared.
A relieved Victor heard the news and collapsed on the floor.

**********************************


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