The body in the freezer

  • Vikramdeep Johal, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Sep 12, 2014 19:03 IST

Respected doctor,

I’m writing this letter because any further communication between us may not be possible, not even through WhatsApp. There’s a problem: I fear that my dear wife plans to put my not-yet-dead body inside our fridge freezer. No, no, I’m not trying to make an April fool of you in September. Nor am I attempting an Agatha Christie-like morbid mystery. I have rational reasons to feel chilled to the bone.

The other day, she was talking about the curious case of Ashutosh Maharaj, the spiritual head of a Jalandhar-based sect, whose body has been in a deep freezer for the past eight months. Some of his followers say he’s in ‘samadhi’ (state of deep meditation) and would come out of it one fine day of his own free will. But there are others, including his long-lost son, who suspect murder and are seeking a high-level probe. Now that’s what you call Incredible India, where faith and fraud go hand in hand.

Believe it or not, I myself go into ‘samadhi’ sometimes, especially when my better half goes blah-blah-blah about her shopping plans. I emerge out of it the moment she stops chattering, which happens as often as a Narendra Modi press conference. I’m afraid she will cite the Ashutosh case as a precedent to get even with me. Don’t let that happen, doctor saab, because I’m least interested in spending the rest of my life, followed by my afterlife, in the Ice Age.

You will agree that there isn’t enough space in our freezer for me to co-exist peacefully with French Fries, Smiles and American corn. True, these things don’t last there long, thanks to my kid’s craving for junk food, but I’ll still feel cramped, much like being sandwiched between two fat men on a three-seater in a roadways bus. What’s worse, so frequent are the power cuts in Progressive Punjab that my body parts will keep swinging between solid and liquid states. And I’ll be confused whether to call myself a desi Robert Frost or Robert Defrost.

If I’m made to stay there for a while, it’s quite likely that the place will be turned into a shrine, with me being the resident deity. I’m already allergic to self-styled godmen and baba black sheep and would hate to be equated with them, even if they manage to get acquitted of all the rape charges. I don’t want to see poor devotees coming barefoot from far and wide, just to pay obeisance to an ‘ice organ’. Mine is a 2.5BHK flat and there’s no room to accommodate scores of followers, let alone vote-hungry politicians and their sidekicks. Of course, my enterprising wife will be thinking in terms of mouth-watering offerings, and eventually moving into a palatial house.

Ideally, it’s you, the doctors, who should have the final word on whether a person is dead or alive. However, things are never simple and scientific in our country. Take Osho, for instance. As per his disciples, he was never born, he never died, but only visited this planet. And someone who has visited Earth once can always do it again, provided he has a multiple-entry visa. That’s our never-say-die spirit, our invincible optimism, now better known as the achhe din syndrome.

Under the circumstances, I’m banking on the honourable high court. The no-nonsense judge has put it so well in the Ashutosh case: “How long can one be in ‘samadhi’? Does it depend on his will or other people’s will?”

Well, let’s see whose will will prevail. In the meantime, I’m keeping a safe distance from my missus as well as the fridge. I believe my salvation lies in abstinence.

Your paranoid patient

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