The Last Journey
A rich old man was very ill and was on his ‘death-bed’. His four sons stood around him. The eldest son said, “Father has only a few breaths left now. Soon he will die. Let us arrange for a beautiful open-jeep carriage to take the body to the funeral ground. One of you go and talk to the flower girl to deliver fifty garlands of fresh balsam flowers so that we can decorate the arthi nicely. Also order a set of new clothes for him. Our father has lived like a king. So, he must go too, like a King.”
The second son said, “Why to order the flowers? They shall rot in this heat anyways. The carriage shall cost us dear. Why don’t we just ask for the ambulance from the ‘Jeevan Hospital’, down the road? It shall not cost as much as the jeep carriage. And, do we really need the new clothes? He is going to be dead anyways. He won’t even know….”
The third son was even thriftier. He said, “Of what use is the ambulance from Jeevan Hospital? We can request for an ambulance from the Government Hospital or from the Red Cross Society. Surely that should be more economical. After all what does it matter to a dead man, whether his last journey is in a fancy carriage or in an ordinary ambulance?”
The youngest son was craftier still. He said, “Why bother with the ambulance and the flowers? The funeral ground is just behind our house anyway. We are four of us; we can put him on a cot and carry him on our shoulders. It’s only a short distance from our house to the crematorium.”
The old man happened to be listening to this conversation between his sons. The very sons for whose sake he had toiled all his life! For them he had scrimped and scraped for years to give them a good life. He wanted to leave behind enough wealth to make them comfortable for a long, long time. What was this they were saying? His sons! His dearly beloved sons! His own flesh and blood!
With a surge of energy he sprang up from the bed and said, “If one of you will kindly bring my shoes, I’ll just go by myself. I don’t need a carriage, an ambulance or a cot. I think my shoes are enough for me to walk out of here. I don’t need help from anyone of you….”