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Living a comfortable life

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By: K S S Pillai

I have been told since childhood that living a righteous life is a pre-condition for entering heaven after death. I am all for it while enjoying at least some comforts of modern life. The problem is that righteousness and affluence often do not go together. The cost of living, perhaps taking a leaf out of the flowing river, never looks back. Unemployment and under-employment are having a field day. No wonder many have no qualms about earning extra money through dubious means, though some get caught.

Scriptures of some religions seem to discourage people from amassing wealth. They say it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. They also have a word of solace for the poor, almost coaxing them to remain poor by saying that blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

It is said the righteous can enter heaven based on their good deeds on the earth and can ‘live’ happily ever after. On the other hand, the sinners go directly to hell and are eternally fried there, though they have the company of the rich and the famous there. Another religious text claims that after death, we are reborn as one of the 84 lakh species, taking on the mantle of one based on our actions during the earthly life. I’ve often wondered what shape I’ll take in my next incarnation.

As I have yet to meet dead people with first-hand knowledge of life after death, I have no authentic information about the existence of heaven and hell. I am confused, but do not want to take any risks. Like the man on his deathbed, who blurted out angrily when the attending priest repeatedly asked him to condemn Satan while there was still time: “How can I antagonize people when I’m not sure which way I’m headed?”

One of our famous compatriots lives in a 27-floor house with hundreds of rooms. He often gets threatened and blackmailed, but the government is there to give all kinds of protection to him. As I would not know what to do with all those rooms, I would be happy to have a house with enough space for all members of the family and occasional guests.

I have often been reading reports of people dying of hunger in different parts of the world due to several reasons. I want to be rich enough to enjoy a reasonably good life. For instance, I would like to avoid standing in queues every few days to get my subsidized ration of food grains and other necessities of daily life. Also, I would like to have a few ‘luxuries’ like a car instead of travelling in crowded buses and trains.

Bringing up children has become a costly affair. As a fond parent, I would like them to be better educated and employed, but education at a good school or college is expensive. If my children are bright enough to pass various entrance tests to pursue higher education in lucrative fields, chances are that I’ll have to pay a lot to get them admitted under different quotas.

As modern technologies have become handy, the new generation often demands facilities that the people enjoy in other parts of the world. Even going to a movie in a multiplex needs a heavy purse, what with the packets of popcorn, soft drinks, and other items sold there much above the MRP printed on them.

Going out to eat in a good restaurant has become an in-thing among the middle and upper classes, where one has to pay through the nose for the food and tip the employees, including the security man who rushes to hold the door of your car open for you. Those members of my family, who are glued to their mobile phones most of the time, would upload the photos on various social media instantly.

(The author is a retired professor of English. A regular contributor to ‘The Kashmir Vision’, his articles and short stories have appeared in various national and international publications)

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