Death met Lieutenant Nachiketas
at the enemy border wearing
a shalwar-kameez, and greeted
him with a salaam. He took
Nachiketas to his home and offered
him food and drink. Although it was
Nachiketas who was under house arrest,
it was Death who played the victim.
“I was like this when I met your
namesake, son of Gautam, ages back,”
said Death, puffing up his cheeks
and indicating the phantom bulge
in his upper arms where now
there was none. Death spoke in
Urdu, of course, the official tongue.
“Listen to my tale of woe and win
back your freedom,” Death proposed.
Nachiketas did so, and found himself
walking into the border of his country,
wondering how the great terror
of mankind had shrunk his tongue
to speak one language, and taken on
the color of a neighbor’s face.
Lieutenant Nachiketas felt he had
won his freedom too easily.
He was embarrassed he would
have no tale of glory to tell.