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(Or AN EYE FOR AN EYE WILL MAKE THE WHOLE WORLD GO BLIND)
Once, Ashoka and Osama bin Laden were waiting outside the Gates of Heaven. After death, both expected a place in paradise. Feeling bored, they both strike up a conversation.
Ashoka: Hello, there. Have you been waiting long?
Osama : You have no idea how long I have waited for this. I have lived for this!
Ashoka : I won't call it much of a living, if you have lived as a terrorist .Yes, I recognise you.
Osama : I prefer the word 'revolutionary’. One man's terrorist is another man's revolutionary. Don’t forget that. People respect me. I am known for my courage.
Ashoka: Courage is not a man with a gun and fear is not respect.
Osama : You think you know a lot. What do you know about our cause?
Ashoka: I am sure you had your cause, just as I had mine. But isn't there a better means to your end?
Osama : The end justifies the means. The man with the biggest gun owns the world. You can't beg for justice to deaf and dumb people. There is only one way to get what you want. This (takes out his gun).Power is not asked for. It grows out of the barrel of the gun, as Mao Tse Tsung said.
Ashoka: And why do you need power?
Osama : If you had ever seen the conditions in which my people live ,you would understand our need for power. America thinks it can do anything it likes- interfere in other people's business, poke its nose everywhere. Why the heck can't it let us be? Our community is god-fearing; there are some codes of conduct. We don't want their ‘progress’, packaged in peanut butter jars.
Ashoka: Yes, I agree. The western world can be relentless in its thirst for world domination. But it is possible to peacefully co-exist provided we abide by some rules.
Osama : What happened to their 'democracy' and other ideals when they illegally detained so many in
Ashoka: That was an over-reaction to 9/11.They were acting paranoid, trying to make sure things don't repeat themselves. But ,as you can see, it was a repercussion of your actions. It started then.
Osama : No, it started several years ago .And , Inshallah ,we are going to end it.
Ashoka: End in what? Mass murder? Broken families?
Osama :( feeling exasperated) Are you a wise guy? A social activist?
Ashoka: No, I am Ashoka.
Osama : I don't care whom you are. OFF WITH YOUR HEAD!
(Points his gun at Ashoka) Now say, "Osama is great."
Ashoka: Calm down! You can't kill someone who is already dead.
(Osama sits down, defeated)
Ashoka: See that's the difference between you and me. You want to change people at gun-point, which is impossible. I change people by changing their hearts. The best way to conquer your enemy is to conquer his heart. This is the only form of conquest which is real in this world. But hatred knows no end .You pass it to one person, he passes it to another. Violence is nothing but a convoluted logic which doesn't serve the purpose it intends to. It is a futile clashing of egos, a vicious circle.
Osama : Vicious circle?
Ashoka: Yes! Can't you see what's happening? If you target some people, you unwittingly end up hurting innocents and the other side retaliates with even more harshness, thus breeding new terrorists, who are only common people wanting to live with dignity, common people who want to be proud of the name 'Khan’. But they face Xenophobia and suspicion, instead .So don't you agree now that your actions have only aggravate the problem?
Osama : No, I don’t. How dare you question my methods?
Ashoka: I am not questioning them. I am saying they are meaningless. But, I know your cause is just and people don't rebel without a reason. Resentment is born out of discontentment and injustice. But, I wish people would find other ways to get themselves heard.
Osama : There is no other way to get heard.
(They are interrupted by the appearance of a man in white robes)
Osama : Who are you?
Man : I am your Karma, your personal account-holder. You can call me St. Peter, Yamraaj or whatever you want. What's in a name?
Ashoka: Will we be let inside heaven?
Man : (Taking out a book) I’ll have to review your life on earth. Hmm.... let me see my book-
"Ashoka, the Great. Mauryan prince. Power- crazy warrior, had some soul-searching moments at Kalinga, turned over to a new leaf, found redemption, ruled in peace...Law of Piety... Dharma”
"Osama bin Laden- so-called jihadist,..dogmatic views,..Ruined lives of innocent people-trained
them as terrorists, brain-washed many,....bumped two planes into some buildings they considered very swell down on earth, killing hundreds….whole world terrified, far-reaching consequences…Breeding hatred”
Ashoka: So, what is the verdict?
Man : To Ashoka, the Great- Eternal Glory. The heaven will be blessed by your presence.
(The man opens the Gate wide for Ashoka to enter)
Man: To Osama bin Laden- Eternal Damnation. The Devil will be glad to learn your conniving ways.
Osama : (incredulously) Eternal Damnation?
Man : Also known as 'Hell'. You will feel at home there, considering the personal hell you carry within yourself.
Hell is not a place .It is a state of mind.