Aatma stood still.
Nobody knew he was an angel. Nobody actually cared. Mortals are so busy with the trivialities of life that they fail to see divinity in motion along them. And after thousands of years of travelling amidst Man, Aatma had gotten used to living inconspicuously without raising any eyebrows.
Sipping tea in the marketplace, Aatma‘s eyes had fallen on a skinny kid darting around the maze of the marketplace. The kid was armed. And it was comical. The kid was nervous, but he tried masking his nervousness by adorning an ill-fitting mask of meanness. Full marks for trying though, thought Aatma. But his curiosity was piqued. He mentally tried making a list of occasions that necessitated an armed kid aping meanness. His mind went blank after one.
And then, Aatma was on alert. He wet his lips in anticipation of the coming excitement. Action was entertainment for an wandering immortal angel. And the irony, the target was another skinny man. The kid had chosen his opponent well. Alas, it was all over in a jiffy. Aatma had had his hopes of excitement blown cold. No shrieks, no blood, nothing. It was all over just like that. Glum faced, Aatma returned to his cup of tea. Suddenly, his ears were filled with a cacophonous laughter. The pain behind the laughter was something that only a greater being could identify. And this laughter was pure pain.
He looked up from his cup of tea, and saw that the robbed man was the one laughing. Lonely in a crowd. His divine sense told him that the man’s name was Aseem. And a pained soul he was. Funny, thought Aatma. Of all the hundreds of people in the crowded square, it had to be the laughing man who was robbed. He wished he could interfere and wave away the travails, but he knew the rules. Angels can not interfere in worldly matters. But the pain in the laughter now started to disturb Aatma. This was not like any pain that he had ever seen. And he had seen lots in the millennia of journey across the world.
Something shook up Aatma from within. At this point, Aatma decided to challenge the rule. For, what use are angels, if they can not spread happiness around. Without thinking, he let out a shout:
Aseem, Return Home…
Stunned were both – Aseem and Aatma. Our friend, Aseem, turned back laughing. He was in a daze – laughing hysterically. This sudden turn of events had left him completely disoriented. And watching a stranger shout random gibberish was probably the icing on the cake of a tragic day that his fate had cursed him with.
Aseem waved. He just waved. He had had enough surprises already. And he was vary of any more surprises. The stranger did not look like a money lender. His voice was not threatening. And his gait was not aggressive. Who was he? A part of his mind told him to ask the stranger what he meant. Another part of his mind told him to take flight. Aseem did nothing. He just stared at the man.
Aseem took a step towards Aatma. But Aatma had started dissolving in thin air. Having broken the sacred rule, Aatma’s time was up. Aatma knew not his fate. But he hoped to carry no regrets. Aseem could just stare. His laughter had subsided. And his pain was slowly getting replaced by confusion. Was he hallucinating? Were his senses – his eyes, ears and mind playing tricks? Had he finally become the loony that his society had branded him long ago?
Once the apparition had vanished, Aseem gathered whatever little control of his senses that he could and ran. Ran as fast as his legs could carry him. There was a way right through the mess of people and carts that somehow opened for a sprinting Aseem.
Huffing and panting, Aseem reached home. There he saw the most beautiful sight – his smiling wife. She looked hale and hearty. And she had a small pouch with her. Aseem needed no prodding. He knew what was there in the pouch. It was his pouch after all that had been stolen. Aseem wondered what turn of events had taken place? But wisely, he chose not to question. A man who never questions the maker for the pains wisely does not bother questioning any blessings. And though small was the gift of fate, the poor and the pained seek solace in tiny pleasures of life.
The sun had set by now. And as the stars shone high up in the night sky, there was a new star that twinkled brighter then all. Aatma had broken the sacred vow of angels, but his gift of smile on the face of a pained had granted him immortality in a different manner. He did not know the consequences of his act. But now he knew that a true angel is not bound by vows and rules when it comes to spreading happiness.
From up above, Earth looked brighter to Aatma, with one sad Aseem lesser. There were many others like Aseem, who still needed help. And Aatma trusted other angels to answer their conscience. Eventually they all would. And till then, the pained just had to laugh at their pains.