Being an old geezer, it’s high time for me to start thinking seriously about death. I reached deep into the diseased magma of my brain and came up with the following scenario, which I hope the pious reader will find edifying:
Scene: The front yard of my home, Pagal Ashram, in scenic Samut Prakan, Thailand. Along comes King Yama on his Yamaha. He is a portly old fellow with twinkling eyes, a magnificent white beard, and a hearty manner, carrying a little noose. He is riding a 50-cc Yamaha motor scooter.
King Yama: Come along, Bah, it’s time to go.
Me (climbing onto the back of his scooter): I hope you’ve got pizza there.
Yama (revving up the scooter and taking off): The best. We have an Amrit Ashram that will sate your most discriminating taste buds. Their parampizza supremo has a multitude of tasty toppings famed throughout the Mahaloka.
Me: Am I going to the Amrit Ashram?
Yama: You’re going to the Yama Loka for processing. There will be a probationary period during which we’ll decide which loka you’re suited for.
Me: I’m a devotee of Sri Ramakrishna, so naturally I want to go the Ramakrishna Loka.
Yama: Shoot for the moon, eh? Not a chance, boy! The Ramakrishna Loka is for the perfectly pure. You perfectly pure, boy?
Me: No, I’m fairly foul. I was hoping you might cut me some slack. Say, watch your driving, you almost hit a dog back there.
Yama: Don’t tell me how to drive. I was driving when you were nothing but an ovum.
Me: Say, King Yama—can I call you Yam?
Yama: No, you may not. I’m a king. Let’s have some respect. Call me Your Majesty.
Me: OK, Your Majesty. I don’t suppose you could bypass this processing loka and just drive me straight to the Ramakrishna Loka?
Yama: As I said before, not a chance.
Me: Look, I have some very dear friends, X, Y, and Z, who were excellent devotees. They passed on before me and are probably in the Ramakrishna Loka right now. Isn’t there any chance I can meet them?
Yama: X and Y were matchless devotees who went straight to the Ramakrishna Loka. We’re still deciding about Z. There’s no place in the Ramakrishna Loka for fence-sitters, lukewarmers, wishy-washies, up-and-downers, and shilly-shalliers like you.
Me: What are those?
Yama: Different categories of vacillating and unsatisfactory devotees. You’ve heard of sthita-prajnas? People of steady wisdom? That’s what we want in the Ramakrishna Loka. If you’re not steady and you’re not wise, we don’t want you.
Me: That doesn’t sound very promising to me. Stop the scooter, I want to get off.
Yama: You stay right where you are, boy, or I’ll have to use me noose.
Yama: In fact, we don’t have to process you. I already know where you belong. You’re going straight to the Pizza Loka.
Me: Really? Oh, boy! Where I’ll get to eat lots of pizza?
Yama: Yep. Pizza every day, for every meal, even for snacks, coffee breaks, and tea-time. We’ve got thin-crust pizza, thick-crust pizza, and deep-dish pizza. We’ve got chicken pizza, pepperoni pizza, tuna pizza, and seafood pizza. We’ve got Italian pizza, Hawaiian pizza, Chinese pizza with soy sauce, Korean pizza with kimchi, and Indian pizza with a choice of chutneys and mango pickle. We’ve got pizza romana, pizza viennese, pizza turino, pizza milano, pizza napoletana, pizza margherita, pizza marinara, pizza pugliese, pizza siciliana, pizza corleone, pizza pacino, and pizza deniro. We’ve got pizza calzone, pizza vegetariana, pizza capricciosa, pizza quattro stagioni, pizza quattro formaggi, pizza funghi, pizza bolognese, pizza mexicana, pizza americana, pizza argentina, pizza barcelona, pizza moskova, pizza istanbula, and pizza baghdadi. Man, have we got pizza. The only pizza we don’t have is beef pizza, because this is a proper Hindu loka we’re running here.
Me (drooling in anticipation): Sounds great! I can’t wait!
Yama: And then, after seven or eight kalpas, when you can’t stomach any more pizza and can’t even stand to look one in the crust, we’ll see if you’re ready for a loka that doesn’t pander to your senses.
Me: You mean I won’t want to eat pizza anymore?
Yama: That’s right. Just the sight of one will make you want to throw up.
Me: Sounds like a reeeeeally hard tapasya I’ve got to get through. Well, let’s get started. Drive on, O noble charioteer!
Bahut Pagal is reachable through his pharmacist, William Page, at firstname.lastname@example.org.