The Ultimate Joke
Death is the most sentimental, emotional, sad event to the concerned family members and others. It’s a last farewell honour given to a beloved person. It is believed, Saint Peter, the Apostle, the first Pope, now in Heaven is the holder of keys of Heaven and would decide and judge on Judgement Day whether one would have a place in Heaven or Hell. It is believed Heaven or Hell is decided depending upon whether one lived a good or bad life in this world. So, beware! As smoking is injurious to health, bribery, murder, rape, etc., definitely would push you to Hell!
There was once a village called Orabia. Priest was the administrator of this local church. His main duty is to prepare the faithful for heavenly life. So, the Priest was the sole person involved in all the rituals of the Christian way of life, i.e. to say, from ones’ birth to death! The Christian community was divided into Wards by the Church for administrative purpose. And the wards had very bizarre names!
One such ward was the Head ward. Mr Baptist, of the Head ward died of prolonged sickness. As he was poor Only 50 people attended his funeral ceremony. His wife and children wailed and lamented for the dead which brought tears into the eyes of many who were present. Their family’s only daily bread winner was no more! Their future looked bleak and directionless.
In some other ward, the Kidney ward, Lawrence expired. He was a wealthy man who had amassed wealth and owned land of more than 30 acres in the village. He was a kind of a troublemaker in the neighbourhood. He would create disputes over land boundaries, the right of way on someone else’s land. He lived a long life with constant trips between his house and hospital and died at an age when he no longer was in a position to trouble others but not before the time his children had inherited the tradition of troublemaking. Despite he being a troublemaker his funeral attracted thousands of mourners as he was wealthy. Local church head priest conducted final rituals including the mass. He declared that Lawrence was in Paradise and called upon all the faithful to follow his ideals in his tribute. His funeral functions revealed his wealth and standing in the society. Within a month a marble stone monument was erected in his honour and memory. The months’ mind, anniversary mass celebrated with pomp with a non-vegetarian meal, beer and whisky to mark the celebration.
Then, Anthony from Face ward expired. People who would never talk any good about him started praising him after his demise. Even his children, who never cared for him, openly declared that their beloved Dad’s death brought them good luck and made them richer! They said that he has sent them good wishes from Heaven and that they were very proud of him!
Then there was Robert from Brain ward who would always attend funeral ceremonies of everyone irrespective of who that person was. He would also visit the family members and console them. He would tell them that their beloved person is in Paradise and everybody should feel happy. Personally, Robert was a very religious person. He was frightened of death and wanted to make sure he was in heaven if he did. He thought, if only there was any way to fulfil this. It was the only thing on his mind. He would have sleepless nights because of this.
One day he had a vision of Saint Peter, the key holder of Heaven. St. Peter showed him a large key to heaven and said, “Attention Robert. One day you too would die. If you come to me making others sad, you would be pushed to Hell. Instead, if you come to me making others happy, I would open the door of Heaven with this key and you would be in Heaven for ever!” Robert tried to snatch the key from St. Peter but when he was about to do it he felt the heat of the key and woke up suddenly from his sleep!
Robert took this vision very seriously and started thinking of how he could make people happy when he died. He was very worried and started planning for it. He called his wife and children and disclosed his dream to them. On hearing this they all started crying as Robert was going to die! He advised them not to be sad and told them that if he would be in Heaven he could influence people over there and shower his family blessings and make them rich. And they could all live like a royal family!!!
He planned day and night and an idea hit on him of narrating a joke at his funeral. Robert called his family and narrated the joke to them. They all started laughing and could not control themselves. “What a joke” they said! “You all have to unveil this joke to everybody present at my funeral ceremony. You all should laugh heartily and loudly and be happy. Saint Peter definitely would be pleased and open the doors of heaven for me!” Robert tried to persuade them. “If you all remain sad and cry then Saint Peter would feel bad, angry and kick me to Hell!! Here it is very difficult to live wearing a single piece of Bermuda shorts in the hot season and just visualise how could I live there in the terrible fire and that too with the company of evil souls forever?!” Robert prepared them emotionally.
Days, months, years passed. There were many deaths in this village and Robert attended all the funeral ceremonies as usual.
One day Robert had to travel to Bangalore for some urgent work. On way to Bangalore a gas tanker collided head-on with his bus. It was a ghastly mishap and many passengers died of burns and injuries. Some got serious burn injuries and were critical. Some have miraculously escaped death. Some fully burnt dead bodies were beyond identification. Since Robert also travelled in this bus and assuming that he is dead, an unidentified charred body was handed over to his family members.
It was a very gloomy moment for the family and the funeral arrangement were started. Mourners gathered in large numbers. Now the mood had turned very sentimental and emotional. His coffin was brought to the church in a procession for burial. At the church funeral mass the head priest in his condolence address praised the life of Robert. He said we all should be happy at his death because his perpetual journey has just begun. He is with God and in heaven now! He would shower his blessings on his family from his heavenly abode!
Roberts’s wife was quietly listening to all this and suddenly recalled what her husband had told her but at this moment she was not courageous enough.
The coffin was taken to cemetery for final rites. Here the Priest started one last prayer. There was sadness, silence, emotions spread among the crowd. There was only the sound of the pulling up of the ropes which were used to lower the coffin to his tomb heard. Everybody was busy in offering a handful of flower petals at his grave as a mark of last respect. At this very moment his wife suddenly started giggling and then his children started laughing.
Many who were present surprised at the condition of the family.
“Robert has departed but his family is very callous” one mourner commented.
“They are unable to come to terms with reality”. One of their neighbours said.
“They have gone nuts!” Gurkar, the head of the ward declared.
Seeing their situation some people tried to console them. But they revealed Robert’s ‘funny joke’ to them. And this joke speedily spread to the whole crowd like wild fire.
Now all were laughing, as if a laughter session was going on! The atmosphere there was getting very light and everybody was laughing their guts out!
But at this very moment …………
Robert appeared in front of his own grave! “I am Robert, your Robert” he shouted.
“See, Ro.. be… rt….. go… gho….. st……. spirit……. ghost. The dead was not pleased with our laughter. Before he was fully buried he has come out to trouble us and punish us. Run….. Escape” all were terrified and started fleeing! No one knew how and when the priest, gurkars, and the relatives had escaped. Now the entire cemetery was empty except for the Robert and his family.
“I am Robert, your dear husband, your daddy, I am alive” he assured his family. On hearing this family embraced each other.
When all this drama was unfolding some police personnel had arrived at the spot. They informed them that they have identified the dead body. They pulled the coffin and carried it to the police station.
Now the people of the Roberts’ Orabia village are still waiting for the death of Robert!!!