MONEY TO BUY HEAVEN...
He was a colonel, which sounded like “albay” in Turkish and “polkovnik” in Russian. This morning colonel Mastaliyev tried to wake up, but he could not.
He thought that it might be the death angel that was going to examine him.
No, he was not the kind of man who would surrender to the death angel so easily. He tried to move, but his entire body, even his fingers were motionless.
He put his elbow on the ground and tried to raise his head, but his limbs were just like pieces of meat, lifeless and apathetic. He tried to cry, and wake all the family members, but his lips were frozen.
He groaned for himself, but there was no voice. Although his eyelids and lashes were closed like a heavy iron lid over his eyes, he still could see. Suddenly he noticed the death angel in black hiding his face like an Armenian priest. He tried to take his handgun from under his pillow, but in vain, his arms were unmoved.
“Do not try to do anything; it’s your end” murmured the death angel and took him like a dead mouse and threw him into a dark and deep well. This well did not lead to the ground, but to heaven. He couldn’t remember how he went as he had lost all sense of time and space. He got to a place which was illuminated with bright lights, and three angels in white with long white beards came out of these lights.
They greeted colonel Mastaliyev and introduced themselves as the angels questioning the people coming to the heaven. They were measuring people’s bad and good actions in their electronic scales and then entering it in their computer.
Colonel Mastaliyev wanted to tell them that he was a lawyer by profession and knew every procedure concerning to questioning. But he couldn’t even open his mouth.
When the angels smiled he realized that they didn’t use their tongues and voices to speak; they were speaking through minds and ideas. They can read minds.
“Oh… What an easy way of questioning… Easy as pie! Poor us, we are questioning people with threats and different kinds of torture and then the defendant denies his words in the court again.” The ex-colonel thought to himself. To him the past days were gone.
First began the angel who was responsible for the good actions:
- Now tell us, what good things have you done?
Colonel Mastaliyev was glad to hear the
question. He had prepared for this day beforehand. Like all the Muslim mullahs who want huge sums of money for funeral rituals like reading the “Yasin” prayer and washing the dead body before the burial and thinking they will go to heaven after death, Mastaliyev had also prepared something that would help him to go to heaven. When his pockets were full of money he spent at least very small amount of it for good intentions. Thinking of this he began to give his report:
- I spent a part of my income for God, for religious purposes: I paid for the construction of two mosques and the reconstruction of three temples. I helped ten refugee families and gave money to an orphanage till the day I died. I never met beggars with empty hands. Every time I had animal sacrificing in Kurban Bayrami (religious Holyday in Muslim societies) I gave the meat to the poor.
I went on Hajj and helped many of my friends and relatives to go on Hajj. And I’m stating the great things I’ve done; I haven’t talked about lots of small charity work yet. If I had known I would die and be questioned by you, then I would have prepared a long list.
The angel of good deeds confirmed all the things he said. The angel sitting in the middle of them (it seemed he was the head of them) turned to Mastaliyev and gave his questions about why he never prayed and ate during the fast. Mastaliyev felt that his throat dried:
- You are absolutely right, Your Majesty. But the problem is, I lived during the Soviet period and I was a communist. You know I would get fired from work automatically if I prayed and fasted in those times and my children would starve.
- This is clear, let’s pass to the next stage, - The head of the angels turned to the one in his left. The angel in the left asked furiously:
- Hey you, guilty man, now tell us about the bad things you have done.
- Guilty man? – Mastaliyev stammered, - Well, naturally everyone has guilt. Like all the humans I have sins, but they are small and unimportant. I drank alcohol, but in a normal way. I know our Prophet’s quote stating “to overuse alcohol is forbidden” and I tried to comply with that. Sometimes I told lies to my wife, cheated on her. I worked for the government so I had to do all the orders they gave no matter if they were bad or good. I think for the actions that I stated last you must blame the high officials, not me. That’s all, - he said and kept silence.
- Try to remember the persons you got money from, remember the bribes you took; confess voluntarily or we’ll call the witnesses.
- Your Majesty, please do not use pressure against me. Take into consideration that I’m a lawyer and worked as a high official. I didn’t come to this level by myself; my God helped me. Now I demand you to state the accusation and your items clearly and call your witnesses, then I’ll answer the questions.
The angel writing down his bad actions smiled ironically:
- The witnesses are your hands, your fingers, your eyes and your ears. They carry with themselves what you have done. Now they will tell us how your hands beat people,
how your fingers wrote unfair rules and orders, how they counted money taken as a bribe, and your eyes and ears will testify.
- It seems you drew them to your side and made them spy on me. I want a petition; neither my relatives nor the organs of my body can testify against me in court. This is beyond all ethical norms, beyond all earthly and heavenly rules. It is a shame!
After the hint of the head angel, the questioning angel started to bring arguments:
- Do you feel guilty for sleeping with your relative’s wife, causing her husband to commit suicide?
The question was like a slap in the face but he did not lose himself.
- No..!...Because, I wanted to help him to find a job and to buy a house... He was living in a refugee camp. His wife was beautiful and I was a colonel with a well- built body. We wanted each other. I could blackmail her husband. His wife deserved a rich gentleman, not to wash the dirty socks of a poor math teacher working at a refugee school. When his wife told the truth he went crazy. I told him either to divorce his wife or to find a good job for himself. He asked how. Then I told him to be ready to humiliate himself before others if he wanted to get a good job and money. I advised him to use the opportunities I offered. He did not agree and committed suicide. However, I acted as a real man. I was taking care of her as much as my own wife. But you did not let me; I mean death did not let me.
- You took a bribe from the murderer and arrested another man instead of him. Who should be blamed for this?
- Your Majesty, the minaret of the mosque that I constructed was unfinished; I needed money to finish it. If I did not take the bribe, I would never have been able to do the good deeds you mentioned here. Before I died, I had a conversation with a religious man who complained about poverty. He told me that it is impossible to live with your normal income; I mean it is not enough to help the poor or to do charity work. That is why he is obliged to be involved in some extra work like small business. People do not understand you and say bad things about you. I mean if you want to help poor people, you should have extra income. People call this extra income a bribe. You don’t know what it feels like when you take bribe - he said with his eyes shining- they bring it and put it on your desk; you don’t give tax or pay social insurance for this. So you have extra money for helping the poor and orphans. Otherwise, you can never do charity work if you live on your salary. Because your salary is not enough, even to cover your own expenses. Imagine that a teacher, a scientist or a worker want to help their sick neighbor who needs to be cured in a foreign country. Can they send the patient to Germany or Turkey for treatment with their salary? Never! I demand you to judge me fairly and not to blame me for taking bribes. All rich men in the world have made their fortune in this way.
Seeing that the angels did not pay attention to his long monologue, he changed his tactic:
- Dear Angels, I tried to help you before my death. I arrested thieves, murderers and
The head angel was tired of his boring speech and raised his hand to show him to keep silence. Then three angels discussed something among themselves. Mastaliyev listened to them but could not understand anything. He realized that the angels had their own way of speaking which was completely unknown to him.
Finally the head angel announced with a serious expression on his face.
- Poor miserable man! You can go neither to Heaven nor to Hell! For people like you we need new rules to be prepared. Therefore, we do not accept you into our world; we are sending you back to your own world. Try to change your ways and clean yourself of your sins on the Earth.
- Dear Angel, I came here with difficulties. Please do not kill me twice. I’m so relaxed here that I don’t feel the pain of my legs, my neck and my heart. Do not send me back. You could give me a small place between Heaven and Hell where I could clean up my act. It is better to stay here and clean up than going back to the Earth, where they never let you stay innocent, Mastaliyev began begging to the Angels, - and they have already found a person for my place in the ministry. Even my wife doesn’t want me back.
- There is no space in the place you want to stay. Thousands of people are waiting for their turn. You have to return to the Earth!
He was thrown back into the deep well again. He tried to move his hands and feet to resist…Suddenly he felt that he was able to move his limbs and feel his pain again…He realized that he had returned. Raising his heavy eyelashes, he opened his eyes. He was glad to see himself in his bed instead of a grave.
He remembered everything that happened to him in the other world. “So the money I spent for buying Heaven was spent in vain. No, I have to reform myself to return their validity...” He was startled at this thought and raised his head: “How? Should I go to prison to clean myself from my guilt? Or should I wait for the order from Heaven about my arrest?”
The last thought made him shiver. What could he do? Who could he share these things with? Maybe he had a terrible dream…
Who could he ask about this? Should he ask religious men about the interpretation of this dream? He shook his hand hopelessly: “They are all greedy bastards and guilty from head to toe.” They took money from him deceiving him that it would be used for charitable reasons. Should he go to fortunetellers? No, they can’t be involved in the Angels’ work. Otherwise, they would be angry with him.
Then holding his head with his hands began to speak to himself:
- But how can I change my ways? Should I write a resignation letter and leave my job voluntarily? Or should I go to prison? Should I pray to God to relieve me of my guilt? Will those Angels hear my voice then? Is it possible to be honest by praying?
Hearing his husband’s voice his wife entered the room. They were sleeping in sepa-
rate rooms. Mastaliyev didn’t see her as he was deep in thought.
- I don’t have a soul friend to open my heart to. The mother of my children is terrible. If she had a chance, she would eat my head off. Where are you, my sweetheart?!
His wife remained patient to see the reason for his state.
- Don’t worry if the entire world turns to be an enemy for you. You are happy if you have a sweetheart who listens to you, - Mastaliyev sobbed, - “where are you, my sweetheart...My Susan, my beautiful flower, come and save me from this death angel!”
The wife couldn’t bear it anymore and went crazy. Because his husband remembered his first love, the girl named Susan, and besides the woman noticed that Mastaliyev used the phrase “death angel” when he remembered her. “Wait, I’ll show you!”
She looked for her traditional weapon, the floor mop, but could not find it. Suddenly she noticed the stick for scratching backs hanging from the hook. She grabbed the wood, rushed at her sleepy husband and hit him in the face. Mastaliyev was startled and thought it was the death angel standing on his head with his fork. He rushed out of the door in his pajamas crying wildly. He was so scared that he forgot his handgun under the pillow and didn’t even see his wife. At the door he met his son who asked him surprisingly:
- Dad, what happened, why are you crying?
- Death Angel..! The Death Angel came to kill me again... He killed me last night and took me to Heaven but they didn’t accept me. Now he came again to take me to Hell!
When he looked in the direction his father pointed he saw his mother standing there with the stick in her hand and grumbling, and he couldn’t help but laugh. His father was a colonel for the whole town, but just a husband for his mother, that’s all.
Since his childhood he used to hear his parents quarrel over this topic. His father loved an Armenian girl named Susan when he was a student.
But as the girl’s mother was busy with the oldest profession of women, his grandfather made him marry his friend’s daughter.
From his mother’s fights it was obvious that Mastaliyev had contacted Susan even after the Armenians moved from Baku.
He was going to Kislovodsk (Russia) under the pretext of treatment.
He never interfered with his parents’ work and thought this was one of their fights which happened because of his mother’s jealousy.
But then he noticed the paleness of his father’s face and horror in his eyes and realized that the situation was serious. He hinted to his mother to keep silent, brought cold water for the colonel and advised him to go to his bed.
- No, never, the Death Angel is waiting for me there!
Then he had no other way out but to lay him on the sofa in the dining room, measure his blood pressure and pulse and give him some sedative drugs. But the horror in his
eyes was still there. He couldn’t sleep for two days. Because of the fear of the Death Angel...He understood that the colonel needed special treatment by a psychiatrist. But taking a high official like him to a psychiatrist would create unpleasant rumors about him. Finally they decided to take him to Childag . Thousands of people suffering from hallucinations were cured here with burning sticks and returned to their normal state. However, Mastaliyev was normal enough to order to bring Childag to his house. They paid Childag workers to come to their house and the colonel was dabbed with burning sticks. But it had no use. Looking at the sky, Mastaliyev was grumbling:
- They didn’t let me to Heaven. The greatest unfairness is in Heaven, the unfairness on the Earth came from Heaven. The richest people in the world had made their fortune in dishonest ways and still they are continuing this way. They have created Heaven for themselves on Earth by theft and robbery. Does anyone blame them for this?! No, this world must be destroyed! God didn’t create it right; he supports the Death Angel and Devils. He gives us 50 or 60 years to live which we spend struggling with disease and pain. But in Heaven I didn’t feel my pain, I felt like I was flying... light and free like a bird. Why? Because they have created a comfortable world for themselves and sent all the maladies and misery for us!
Standing by his husband’s bed, his wife was also grumbling:
- Please, stop saying such words, God will punish you for your words!. . You should be in a lunatic asylum.
When he heard the word lunatic asylum from his wife he was startled and it even seemed his consciousness returned to him. “I would never go there.” But he could bring the lunatic asylum to his house.
So, a lunatic asylum was brought to his headquarters; every morning the psychiatrist and nurses came to give him medicines and injections and got a good deal of money for this.
And one day his close friend visited him and explained that this was a kind of disease that couldn’t be cured completely. So he had to continue his treatment regularly.
He also explained that rich people are never called crazy. If you are a boss, if you are wealthy, every stupid word you use will be accepted as a wise quote. As in a Russian proverb: “If I am a boss, then I’m wise and you are stupid. If you are boss, then you are wise and I am stupid.” This idea restored his self-confidence. *** Mastaliyev continued being the boss in his office. The main thing he had to remember was to carry out the orders of his own boss. As for kind deeds, He stopped. He spent the money intended for charity on bosses higher than him to keep his position. Despite the fact that he was not cured in the lunatic asylum, they knew he had a mental disorder. And this was in their favor …
Translated by Leyla Salayeva.