After Death

“Umm… How did you die?” Akash asked pushing his spectacles harder on his nose. He was used to doing this at least 300 times a day.

“I… uh.. don’t know.” The person in front of him said with a long pause. He looked everywhere with a look of wonder. Akash yawned.

“Go to that counter. You will get the details and take this slip. It has your assigned number here. Don’t misplace it.”

“How long will this take?” The person asked.

“Why? Do you have plans for the evening?” Akash asked annoyed.

“Uhh.. No, it’s just… Will I go to heaven or hell?” The person asked.

“Nowhere. Once your process is done, you would go to your orientation. There, one of our executives would take the process further.” Akash said and shooed the person.

Akash stretched his body and heard the sound of crack from his back. That relieved a knot of tension developing in his body. Akash hated the human body’s limitations. However, it was important to have the human body while interacting with humans. That made them feel safe during the process. Akash had been in the human department for the past 10 years. He had enjoyed his time here till now, barring the office attire. Human body wasn’t a good attire to wear. It was strict in movement and the suffocation was horrendous. But other than that, the work was more entertaining because the humans were a little naive and thus had a curiosity that Akash enjoyed. The work was more challenging as well which was good. His more preferred outfit however remained the Krosis outfit. Krosis were completely flexible and the ventilation in that body was excellent.

However, Krosis were highly evolved. In fact, most had realised that death was just a change of job and nothing more. Hence, the work there was mostly operational. Humans on the other hand gave so much potential for promotions and growth.

“You can now move to orientation. I’ll take the shift Akash.” The junior whose fort Akash was holding came back. Akash liked to work on the front sometimes just to see how people reacted to their death for the first time. He was surprised that many actually accepted it easily. It was the post-death reality that struck them hard.

“Ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to your post-death orientation. My name is Akash and I’ll be your guide in the transition. There are two parts to this orientation. One is the group event where you’ll find out the general details about post-death events. In the second part of the event, I will individually discuss with you the options available to you.”

“Sounds like a college orientation to me.” Someone snickered.

Akash smiled. “You’ve no idea.” He replied.

“Now, let’s begin. First things first. There’s no heaven or hell, in terms of place. We do have some rooms for people who have to stay for longer here and some of the staff considers them hell but other than that, heaven and hell as you might have learnt in your life don’t exist. Any questions?”

“Then what about the good or bad things we did?”

“Excellent question. Honestly, there’s no good or bad either. Good or bad changes to frivolously and is too subjective on the humans of the period to be consider a good long term benchmark in our terms. So, yeah, you won’t be judged on what good or bad you did.”

“Then what will we be judged on. We are being judged, right? And what will be our punishments or rewards? Don’t tell me I wasted my time helping others.” Another voice spoke. Akash knew who was speaking but he considered these questions the right of the people who had died. They didn’t understand the truth and deserved to know it.

“Yes, there will be a parameter on which you all will be scrutinised. Based on that, your future would be decided. I’ll explain the procedure in some time. So, are there any other kind of questions, before we proceed to that.”

“Ah.. Umm.. Yes, I have two questions, if you don’t mind.” An unsure female voice came.

“Please ask.” Akash said encouragingly.

“One, is there a God? And two, are there aliens?”

“God, as in someone created you. It’s complicated. The conditions were made for life to begin but where it will go from there was left completely unchecked. However, we can create humans from the scratch if we want. So, in that way, you can consider me on a higher plane than you. However, if you are asking if a God who created everything exists, then I don’t know the answer to that question. As for your second question, yes, aliens exist. Lots of them.” Akash said and smiled.

He could see the expression of shock on everyone’s face. The realisation they have that Akash was equivalent to God to them was one of the reason he enjoyed working in the Humans department. Krosis almost treated him like a clerk.

“So, the process will be like this. Each human born on earth is judged on the impact created by that individual during their time on the planet. We have sophisticated methods to see the impact, both short-term and long-term. The magnitude and length of impact are combined to create an impact score. The higher the score the better you performed. The better you performed, the better your options are for your future.

Now, the options. So, everyone is sent back. You are reborn. However, your status going back depends on the kind of impact you’ve had. This means that if you’ve had a higher impact, you are born as a person who can have a higher impact. This means that a person who probably was born in a poor family but grew to affect ten thousand people would next time be born in a rich family. A person who was a leader in a small country might be born in a large country to have a higher impact. Basically, the better you performed, the better your situation in the next life, or vice versa.”

Several hands shot up. He pointed at one person. Akash knew the first question by-heart by now. The first time, he had to check the database to answer this question and the several follow-ups.

“So, in a way, you can say that if you had a higher impact, it is heaven and if you had a low impact, that’s hell. But this is unfair. This means that a person like Hitler or Stalin is same as someone like Abraham Lincoln or Gandhi. Are you saying Hitler got heaven?” The person said in a growly voice.

“As I said before, it’s not heaven or hell. In fact, many times, going to a higher impact place means having a tougher life. However, to answer your question specifically, yes, Hitler and Stalin both had almost as many options as the other two. The impact these four people had in human history is very high and undeniable.”

“But that’s horrible. How can you not punish them? How can you give Hitler more opportunities to destroy our world. I bet he’s the one who became one of those big terrorists.” Another voice shouted. Akash smiled. It would take personal attention to make them understand. However, he wanted to get all the strong reactions out in this setting so that it’s easier later.

“Actually, no. Before any person goes back, every previous memory is wiped clean. Even a person’s personality or gender is completely random. In fact, of the four names you mentioned, two decided to be born as women and in a completely different region and of different race. And of the four, three turned good in human sense while one turned bad. One’s impact reduced drastically and another even decided to leave Earth for better prospects. So, please trust me when I say that we have found a very robust and objective parameter for judging humans.”

“What do you mean left Earth? Can we chose to be born as aliens?” A question came.

“Yes, indeed. However, it depends on what options you get. Don’t worry. You will be allowed to make a completely informed decision. Any more questions.”

No one asked anything. Akash knew they were simply processing what they had just heard. Everyone was trying to remember what impact they had in life. Most realising that they were too busy following rules, playing safe and trying to stay in the shadows. The reality was that most people usually shifted only one band higher or lower in life. They hadn’t tried enough to change their position by much. Cases like Lincoln or Gandhi, Hitler or Stalin were rare and actually entertaining.

“Then, we will proceed to individual assessment and counselling. Please close your eyes and then open them.”

Akash saw everyone doing that and did the same. In a moment, everyone was an in an individual room with a version of Akash. Each would get a reel of their whole life with impact score calculated based on each action. Once summed up, they would find out their options and proceed.

“So, how much time has passed since I died?” The female voice from earlier spoke. Akash looked at her and was astounded. She was around fifteen something but was speaking with maturity and grace. Akash was impressed. His other versions were dealing with 70+ year old people crying, telling him that they were being good or 30-somethings who were overachiever and now frowning over their options. Most would go back to similar settings and then come back and cry again. This one, however, was an interesting case.

“Not much.” Akash replied wanting to know her next reaction. She nodded.

“Can you be a little more specific please?” She asked again. Akash opened a picture where she was falling on the ground after the accident.

She looked at Akash questioningly.

“That’s live video. You are still falling after dying. You have yet to hit the ground.”

“Wow! It felt like hours here.” She spoke. Akash nodded and smiled.

“So, should we see your impact?” She nodded. Akash moved her whole life real in front of her with the score being calculated in quick succession.

“Why am I not feeling any emotions for these events?” She asked.

“Emotions are a body thing. You don’t have a body now.” Akash spoke. She nodded.

“So, this is your final score. It is mighty impressive considering your life span. You will be able to get some really good options with this score. Perhaps child of a politician or a billionaire.” Akash said.

“What happens with children who die too young?”

“They still have an impact. However, most of their impact is long term impact. On average, that impact is good enough for them to come back in a similar position at least.”

“Ok. So, can you show me some of my options.”

“Not some. All.” Akash said and tapped the girl’s temple. The girl remained silent for some time and then finally spoke.

“I chose this one. She said pointing towards a space in her memory.”

“Really!” Akash said surprised.

“Yes.”

“But you can have a much higher impact in these areas.” Akash said pointing towards different memories. One was a king who wanted a son to succeed him. Another was a child to a famous actor couple.

“No. I want to be a daughter to this couple.”

“You’re sure. You really think you can create a high impact from there.” Akash said with distaste.

“Yes, I can.” She replied with a steely voice.

“Alright then. You will be the first of many daughters to an unhappy couple in a poor family in a third-world country. I can already see a bad childhood and tormented psyche.” Akash said.

“Thank you for your confidence.” The girl smiled sarcastically.

“I will check on you from time to time, see the impact you are having on the world.”

— —

‘Congrats on getting into Harvard.’ A message came on her smartphone.

‘Thanks. :)’ She replied.

‘Still in Congo?’

‘No, that got over long time ago. I’m in Ecuador now. Before that, I was in US, finishing my final exams.’

‘Planning on coming home?’

‘I came last December when mom wasn’t well. Now, maybe after the course get’s over. Before that, I have to work on my NGO. I have to also help a friend set her startup. Honestly, I wish I could come but I don’t have time.’

‘Hmm.’

‘BTW… You would like Ecuador. It’s beautiful.’

‘Someday, I’ll see it. Ok.. Tell me something.’

‘Yeah.’

‘Why do you help people?’

‘Because, why shouldn’t I?’

‘That’s not an answer.’

‘That’s the answer. If I am capable, why shouldn’t I help people?’

‘Again.. don’t give me a question.’

‘I help people because I can.’ She replied.

— —

Akash looked at the conversation between the two and smiled.

‘Yes, she can.’ He thought to himself. Coming to Human department indeed was a good decision. Akash thought stretching his arms.