“I see trees so green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you.
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.
I see skies so blue and clouds so white.
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night.
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.”
Louis Armstrong.. ” what a wonderful world “.. my favorite song was playing.
I turned the volume up, driving through the night, at quite a high speed. These meetings and dinners get boring after some time. I attend them for my contacts and networking. Driving is a kind of meditation for me, though, after a few drinks, I don’t like to drive.
Today my driver couldn’t come, an opportunity for me to drive at full speed. Raced my BMW, passing the forlorn roads and highway, ascending the hills.
My name is enough for people to come on board for any business. I am proud of the fact that I am called The Czar. A Billionaire Industrialist and have a knack for turning the sick units into profitable ventures. I can smell profits from a distance. A germ of an idea had crept today while talking to potential investors, so waiting to go home and work on it.
Not that anyone is home to welcome me. My ex-wife long been gone after taking a huge sum of alimony. Heard that she has a boyfriend of our son’s age. Both my sons handling offices in different parts of the world.
Life is good.. “Rather it’s a beautiful world”.
The car suddenly stopped, everything was proper, fuel in place, the brakes perfect, yet the car did not move. The headlights switched off. It was pitch dark. I got out of the car and tried to switch on the phone torch.
Suddenly the sky illuminated with sunrays. Dawn looking picturesque. I never before saw such a scene. Fields on both sides of the road and so much greenery. Nature at its best. I took my phone to click a photo and couldn’t switch it on.
I let it go and started walking, taking in the scenic beauty, soaking in sheer peace and happiness.
The road will lead somewhere, or maybe I will get a lift from someone. This was the same road which I used to take every day, yet it looked different or maybe I was always busy on my laptop and phone, hence never noticed.
Just then a car stopped. A gentleman opened the door and smiled.
I asked ” please can you drop me. I..”
He cut in and said, ” Get in, don’t worry I know where you live.” He smiled again.
I was perplexed. Yet sat in the car, had nothing to lose. I looked at him and he looked so peaceful, so familiar, I couldn’t place him. I was very tired and slowly my eyes started shutting, I closed my eyes for few seconds…
I got up and saw myself in a garden. The same gentleman sitting next to me.
He said ” Noel, let’s take a walk”
I was quite angry now, asked him ” how do you know my name? You said you will drop me home. What is this place?”
He smiled and said ” I told you, I know where you live and not that I will drop you home”
I searched for my phone, couldn’t find it.
He continued, ” Haven’t you had enough of technology, just follow me and enjoy this beautiful place”
I couldn’t stop myself and followed him, saw fields and fields of flowers, hills, and streams. A gentle breeze flowing, a kind of calmness engulfed me.
I saw a man standing nearby. He looked like my ex-partner. But wait how could it be.
I turned and asked the gentleman ” was that Mike, my partner. Do you have any idea ?”
The gentleman replied “yes”
I was aghast. Told him, ” He died, a few years back. How can he be here “
Mike was looking at me. I got scared now.
The gentleman said, ” Are you scared of him”
I was quiet. The gentleman continued, ” isn’t it weird. People are scared of the dead and not of living beings. Not scared that they have harmed someone when they are alive”
I told him, ” listen I didn’t kill him. He killed himself.”
He replied, ” yes, after you cheated and took over his business and house”
He continued. ” Do you know what happened to his wife and children?”
I told him, ” I did not do anything. I can’t help it if he was mentally weak and couldn’t take the pressures of life. Even I have seen hard days. Slept on floors, Cleaned washrooms, ate once in 2 or 3 days. It made me more strong. I am not responsible for his death. I am not responsible for his family either. It’s their destiny.
I was very angry and irritated with him, ” listen .. I don’t even know your name and why I am here.”
The gentleman said ” you can call me Paul”
I replied, ” that’s my father’s name.”
He did look like my father. I was confused and scared and just couldn’t fathom anything.
Paul continued ” what about those two”
I turned to see in the direction he pointed, and I froze.
Joshua and Scarlett were holding hands and walking. I was stunned, they were so happy with each other. I was dumbstruck.
Paul said, ” so, what do you have to say about them “
I didn’t reply. My thoughts went to the days when Joshua was working with me. He was my most trusted employee.
I couldn’t look at Paul in his eyes.
Paul told, ” Do you remember. Are you going to admit. ? “
I replied angrily ” How could she say No to me. ? I just wanted to have a good time, and in exchange would have given Joshua the perks. ”
Paul said “you do know that not everything can be bought with money. Liking someone or getting attracted to someone is ok, but your ego was hurt that she said No, so to teach them a lesson, you killed them.”
I replied, “I didn’t kill them”
Paul continued, “you were the brain behind their murder. You managed everything, police officials, political pressure, committing more crimes to hide one crime. Are you even human? Do you have any kind of remorse or guilt ?”
I couldn’t reply to that ..thinking did I feel guilty. I never thought about it.
As we crossed the stream, I saw a small girl playing on the swings. I was struck by her beauty. Her blond hair, her eyes. I yelled out “Jenny”. She did not look up, continuing her swings and laughing loudly.
I looked at Paul and said ” that’s my daughter. She doesn’t recognize me.”
I wanted to cry, but there was not a drop of tear in my eyes.
I told Paul, ” I tried to save her. She was very ill. But I couldn’t.”
My voice changed, “Paul, just tell me everything. Am I dead ?”
Paul replied, “look there.”
I saw down from the hilltop, my car was in horrendous condition. An ambulance had arrived and they were taking me on a stretcher.
I told Paul, ” So I am dead. “
Paul replied ” You died a long time back. You were a living corpse.”
He continued, ” No emotions. No love for other people. In your quest to earn name, fame, and money, you have taken advantage of innocent people, using them right-left, and center.”
I told him “I did everything for my family”
Paul continued ” that was your duty. Did you do it out of love? Cheating your wife, Cheating your partner, Cheating so many other people. changing the laws, killing people, crushing poor people’s hopes, just to suit your advantage”
“You have a habit of blaming people to cover your mistakes, blaming Mike saying he was weak, blaming Joshua and Scarlett that they did not agree to your demands. Blaming your wife that she was the cause of your cheating. “
I replied, ” what do you mean. ? I haven’t done anything new. Everybody does it.”
I asked Paul, ” how come there is no hate or anger in Mike, Joshua, or Scarlett’s eyes. They are so much at peace”.
Paul said, “You have no love in your heart towards anyone. When there is no love, there is no respect for others. There is only malice, hatred, jealousy, and negativity. It doesn’t matter that you earn millions and billions. You have died a long time back. And not only you, but there are also crores of people living like that.”
I replied, ” I am dead, so how does it matter now.”
Paul smiled ” you are not dead as yet. You are neither dead nor alive.”
I looked down and saw that I was in the hospital. Doctors had declared that I was brain dead.
They said, ” It is a matter of time. Only a miracle can save him”.
I saw my staff and few friends, my children, my ex-wife, but no one was sad or crying.
My children were discussing how they will divide the shares. Maybe I would have also done that. You reap what you sow.
My wife was standing with her boyfriend, putting on a show for the journalists.
Seeing from this angle, I felt my life was so hollow.
I requested Paul, “Let me be here, in this beautiful place, where everything is peaceful. I don’t want to go to that hell. Don’t send me there.”
Paul said, ” you have to live.”
He gave me a small pink tablet.
I asked him, ” what is it,”
He said “It is called the Love Tonic. Just like you take tablets for depression and some pills to get sleep, this is to bring love in your heart.”
I laughed, “this is something I have never heard.”
Paul calmly said, “you have to settle many dues first. That’s your penance. I have chosen you to do many good things. To spread love and happiness. Without Love and respect for each other, humans have turned into Robots, into Zombies. A Messiah is born after every calamity, to save the World. A simple, pure World which was always intended to be.”
I couldn’t stop laughing. I took the tablet and suddenly I felt breathless. Everything was moving about frantically. I saw Mike, Joshua, Scarlett, and Jenny. They came near me. I wanted to take Jenny in my arms
I felt bad for the first time in my life about Mike, Joshua, and Scarlett. Told them I am sorry, please forgive me. I tried to reach out to them and then I blacked out.
There was a commotion in the hospital. I overheard the doctors saying. ” It is quite a miracle, He is surviving. His limbs might take few years to gain strength or maybe they might not work, Time will tell. But he will need support throughout his life.”
And I thought, what was the point of this kind of life.
I opened my eyes and saw a glimpse of Paul and Jenny, tears welled up, but I was at peace knowing
within, that if I have survived this, there must be a reason.
One year now after the accident.
I have started a Foundation in Jenny’s name, Helping to spread love and happiness.
Yes, I have a knack for turning sick units into profitable ventures only this time it is turning people to get back on their feet.
And I am called The Czar, the Man with the Midas touch, strangely I heal people with my touch, bringing love in their hearts.
Maybe it is the Love Tonic which I got from Paul which does the trick.
His words haunt me “I have chosen you to do many good things”.
I move about in a wheelchair. I need support for my basic activities. I am a Paraplegic.
Yet I have never felt more Whole in my life.
Humming to myself..
” I see skies so blue and clouds so white.
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night.
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.”
* Picture Credit : Wolfgang Hasselmann from unsplash
* “what a wonderful world” song by Louis Armstrong
*Messiah – a title given to the person believed to be a saviour, chosen to bring salvationto humankind
*Paraplegic – unable to move or feel the legs or lower part of the body.