The politician died and knocked at the pearly gates of heaven. A breathtakingly beautiful apsara opened the door. He saw the marvelous, splendor of heaven and Indra seated on the throne of rubies and gold with a footstool made of sapphire and emeralds. He licked his lips as he stepped inside, expecting a rousing welcome with over 100 attendants falling at his feet as his life had been on earth.
“Sir, you cannot go inside,” said the apsara softly.
“What! You lowly attendant, do you know who I am. How dare you talk to me like that,” said our wise politician. Immediately, he started falling from heaven and passed vast dark spaces filled with menacing voices. Terrified out of his wits, he cried, “Where are you? Please take me back.”
“First, you must show respect to the lowest of the low. Then only your ordeal will end,” said a voice. “Yes, yes,’ he mumbled, “only take me back.”
Once again, he found himself facing the unfazed apsara. She looked him over and he seemed to appear contrite. “Here, in heaven,” she explained, “we work hard, to make a difference. We welcome everyone who can make this a better place. Now, what can you do for us,” she asked.
“Er- I have over 20,000 crores in Swiss banks, and many more precious stones and,”
“The currency of the world has no value here. Tell me how you can make a difference?” she repeated.
The politician looked exasperated, but held his peace as he didn’t want to get the “treatment” earlier meted out to him by the feisty apsara.
“Oh!” replied the politician as he remembered something earthshaking, “I have multiple entry visas to America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, once you are there, and, “She cut him short “What have you done to make your land free and brave?”
“Er – I have decimated a few of my opponents who were greedy for power. So that’s how I contributed to the well-being of the state.”
“Killing is a crime in heaven,” she said with emphasis.
The politician was now losing his patience. “Heaven is over rated, what kind of a place is this, when an important person like me cannot get an audience,” he thought. “Let me just find a way to get past this brainless wonder and maybe, I’ll find someone in heaven whom I can bribe and be seated next to Indra.”
“Ok, then, I had built a huge temple covered with pure silver,” he said aloud so that Indra could hear.
“Did you build any dharamsalas?” she asked.
“Er – hmm- what is that?” he asked puzzled. In the meantime, a prostitute and a thief went past the apsara and reached swarg where Indra received them warmly.
“What!” asked the minister trying very hard to suppress his anger, “what kind of justice is this? The dregs of society are allowed inside whereas hard working politicians like me are given the third degree.”
When she heard the minister’s rant, the prostitute swung around and faced him. “Justice!” she hissed as her eyes flashed fire, “what do you know of justice? Was it justice when you stole our land and built your factory on it? Was it justice that your men sold me down the river?”
The politician started to argue but was cut short by the robber, “Was it justice when your henchmen beat me mercilessly because I stole a piece of roti for my starving children? Was it justice when politicians like you are honored for robbing the common man whereas we are treated worse than animals when we are forced to steal to keep our bodies and souls together?”
Unfazed and unashamed, the politician stood his ground and said to the apsara, “Surely, you don’t believe their stories, and even if you do, according to you, they can go to heaven only if they can make a difference. I don’t see them doing anything worthwhile except rant and rave due to their idleness and jealousy.”
The prostitute said, “Ask all those girls I rescued and freed from the clutches of slavery”.
“Ask all those people in the slums that I taught to read,” added the robber.
“In Swarg, the hard currency is compassion,” explained the apsara.
Again, the politician brushed them all aside and spoke his mind to the apsara, “You are all making a big mistake. What kind of Swarg is this where you have no place for power, money, property or status? How far can you go with a currency of honesty, humility, justice or compassion? No wonder there are very few people here. With such a low population base how long can you survive? I would prefer earth over this place anytime. At least it has been there for a long time. I want to go back to my world,” he said.
“Have your wish,” she said, and was glad to be rid of the pestilent guest.
Soon, the politician fell headlong into the earth. He passed the palatial buildings of his neighborhood, passed the verdant green lawns of his palace and finally went past his palace. “Stop,” he said, “this is my home,” but the moving force moved on, rattling past huge swathes of deprivation and landed inside a hut. “No,” shouted the politician as he lost consciousness.
When he saw the light of life he heard his loud petulant cry in the dark hut, as voices of joy hailed his birth.