Dec 21, 2011

Q) You are in Hell. Describe what it is like.

By Farwa Haider

The cold, steel walls of the elevator vibrated for a millisecond as it stopped on Level Nine.
The doors separated as a saccharine voice emerged from the crackling intercom.
“Welcome to the Ninth Circle of Hell. We hope you enjoy your stay no matter how long it may be. Thank you for riding Edison Elevators. ‘Edison- Nobody’s perfect!’”
I stepped out and immediately wrapped my arms around myself. It was freezing! I should have listened to Alighieri and instructed that I be buried in my fur coat.
The elevator vanishes, leaving only some disturbed snow behind.
The area looks barren and empty. I guess when it comes to the Ninth Circle of Hell people are fashionably late- and perhaps better-dressed as well.
All around me is a white and blue wasteland with mounds and mountains of snow and ice, higher and larger than Mount Everest itself.
The wind keeps blowing in my face. I touch my nose but it’s cold and solid. My nose is frozen!
In the distance, over the mournful wailing of the wind I hear someone scream “Avalanche!” The scream is very similar to the way that mountaineer screamed in Vertical Limit, the voice filled with terror and boldness- of all the words to scream, he screams the obvious. I guess we’re all here because we were bold, because we dared! Dared to rise above a world filled with concerns for others. Dared to live and win for ourselves and ourselves only! I wonder if Ayn Rand’s here too.
The thunderous sound of the avalanche is getting closer. And closer. And closer.
I keep tripping and slipping over ice. I don’t know where to run! I can’t see! This cold wind is like a sharp knife that’s been jabbed into my eyes. I feel a powerful tug on my shirt.
“Follow me!” says an urgent, husky voice.
My hands hang loosely by my side as my rescuer pulls and tugs and swears. I don’t know if he’s swearing at me of the avalanche or our luck.
“There is no luck in Hell. You make your own luck the same way you made it back home,” says a familiar voice.
Suddenly, the wailing of the wind, the thunder of the avalanche and the stabbing pain and numbness of my face disappear.
“You can open your eyes now”
I do so. The avalanche disappears down a glowing, gaping abyss. From afar it  looks like the ice floor cracked. Awful groans emerge from it.
My eyes! I can see again! They feel great, as if a jug of warm water was poured over them.
The terrain is still the same except that there are two people standing in front of me. One is a heavy-set, bearded man wearing a beaver and a brown leather jacket. There are dark circles under his eyes and he seems like the kind who can will a person to shoot himself.
Beside him is a tall man, lean with a wide forehead and a big nose. He has a gun slung over a shoulder and looks bored- Charleton Heston! He’s here too!”
“Are you going to stand there with your mouth open like a retard or praise my acting in Ben-Hur,” he said in a monotone.
Before I could stammer out a reply the other man says gruffly “Where the hell are we?”
“Why in Hell, of course. The Ninth Circle if you want details. Really! The fools they send down here are increasing by the number lately. I should complain to the big guy about this!”
“Big guy? You mean the Devil?” I say quickly. Heston just cocked his eye-brow and started walking.
“Let’s keep this nice and short. I have a spa treatment to return to. Welcome to Hell. Yes, there will be tests of your strengths, endurance and patience till you’re left pulling your hair out and begging God for forgiveness. Don’t worry. It’s not so bad here. We have therapy and spa treatments and Roman Polanski puts on a show every weekend. You’ll get used to it.”
It sure seems nice. People smile and nod at me as I walk by. Most of them have parts of their bodies missing but seem least bothered. I could get used to this.
“Oh Farwa, you’re here too? I always knew you were a bad egg!” a voice squeals in my ear. I freeze with horror.
Oh no! Kulsoom Khala’s here too? This truly is Hell!


Zoha said...

Hahaha love the last line :D

Sania Bilwani said...

^ same.
It was fun reading this, Farwa. :)

Farwa Haider said...

Thanks =) Hahaha the ending was the second thing to pop up in my mind after the setting.
And just for the record, I do not have a khala by the name of Kulsoom.

Afnan Imran said...

I hope she isn't as horrible as your writing shows :p But your hell is fascinating.

Farwa Haider said...

Thanks. Eh there's always an aunt like that ;)

Fatema Shabbir said...

Ahh... didn't see that last line coming :P

Lynette Rodrigues said...

hehe really good! The whole idea was different from what one usually expects of that question. And the last line was really funny :)

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