It was getting hotter. There were people at the equator who were trying to run from the inundating water. And then there were people at the North Pole, who were trying to annex to their piece of land, the ice; the ice that was slowly melting and causing the aforesaid inundation at the equator. All in all, the world was coming to an end.
I was amongst the 50 who were floating on a block of ice at the North Pole. We were all holding on to dear ice, or life. There was exactly a square foot of ice for each one of us. The lucky ones were towards the centre, where the ice was melting gradually, and the sun wasn’t directly overhead. At the periphery were the ones whose end was near-er. They were more scared. They were holding their little children in their arms, trying to save them from the apocalypse. They were covering their eyes and ears to protect them from the sight and sound of death. And all I could think about, from the comfort of my spot in the middle, was that that square foot of ice held two lives.
I also had the advantage of being tall. A twist of the head and a panoramic view of all the other less privileged 49.
I could see the ballerina, who stood on her toe till her spot melted and she drowned.
I could see the pundit, who closed his eyes and prayed till his spot melted and he drowned.
I could see the scientist who was calculating his time of death till his spot melted and he drowned.
And I could see the fat man whose spot broke off from the mainland and drowned with him.
The man at my side nudged me. “I never had a good friend in my life. Will you be my good friend?” I nodded. And for the next three hours, or should I say 30 people, he told me the long story of his life. How he was bullied and how he relented, how his father died when he was six and how he made a living out of shaping shrubs. It was slow torture. But when the world is ending, it helps if time passes slowly.
A teenage girl on my other side tugged on my pants. “I never got kissed,” she said. “Would you kiss me?” I nodded. I picked her up in my arms, and gave her a kiss on the lips. Her cheeks got flushed with red. I kept her down. Still red in her ears, she looked up and said thank you. I smiled. Another 3 people passed.
2 people later, the old lady behind me patted my buttocks. A twist of the head and I could see her small fragile body, and her wrinkly face smiling away to glory. “I never had a son. Would you be my son?” I nodded. “Yes, mother”, I said. Her life was complete. She died right then.
Her death was a source of error in my units of time.
4 people later (or 5, if you include the dead old lady), the schizophrenic on my front turned to look at me. “I knew Abraham Lincoln is still alive!” he said, looking up at me. I nodded. “Nobody has ever expected me to be president. In my poor, lean lank face nobody has ever seen that any cabbages were sprouting,” I said.
The schizophrenic’s purpose of life was complete. He went hysterical and pushed 6 more people into the water.
Damn. Another source of error. And then he died. Another.
Now it was just me and the friendless man and the teenage girl.
Their spots melted and they drowned.
It was just me now. And my square foot of ice. My own little space under the sun. I had never owned a house. Here was a piece of land that was entirely mine, floating on a liquid cemetery.
I had lived life to the fullest. I had visited the places I wanted to visit, dated the girls I had a crush on, made a job of what I loved most. I had no regrets. I had lived on my own terms.
And there it was: the realization that even in my last moment, I was going to live on my own terms.
There was no waiting.
I was going to die on my own terms.