Just the other day my five year old son Ethan put the question that kids at his age usually do "What happens when we die?" I responded in the manner most parents would "If a person is good on earth, he goes directly to heaven, a beautiful and happy place – if he is bad, he goes to hell". Then came the question I expected "What is hell like daddy" I responded giving him the usual stark depiction of hell – something I have been fed with as a kid, then it got me thinking if only I could make him understand that there are people here on earth for whom day to day living is hell i.e. current Iraq, Palestine etc. I didn’t as his young mind would not comprehend the meaning.
On the subject of hell, there are culture’s that have their own take on it. In-fact a certain far eastern tradition holds that the gates of ‘Lucifer Land’ open in the seventh month of the lunar year for the ghost festival, it is believed that the ghosts are released on parole to roam the earth. Like all tourists these ghosts are treated to food and entertainment. Even ‘hell money’ is offered to appease the spirits. The belief here is that if the ghosts are not treated well, they might create problems. This festival is celebrated every year for the vacationing tourist ghosts. It is a hard to digest truth that makes raises many eyebrows and certainly puts the logical person (understanding it) in a quandary.
Which brings me to this funny anecdote "A man mistakenly dies and goes to hell and is astounded by the celebrations there, only to be told he has to return to earth for his time had not yet come. He certainly leaves hell mesmerized by the happenings and hopes to return soon, he dies after some years and goes to hell only to find it as miserable as it can be. Stopping the devil on his tracks, he asks "what’s happening, this was not the deal" to which the devil replies "That my friend was our advertisement for tourists, you are now a citizen".
The word ‘Hell’ has been somewhat a favourite with rock groups, the famous rock group Eagles created history with their reunion album ‘Hell freezes over’ named after a comment by the lead singer ‘they would unite after hell freezes over’. Chris Rea and AC/DC had their biggest hits on the subject. In-fact there is a school of thought that believes rock music falls under the category of hell’s ballads – a fact which has been a cause of consternation amongst religious groups. I am not a die hard rock fan though I like certain songs both English and Hindi (the Hindi movie ‘Rock on’ rocks with its ballads) but I do believe music is universal and cognitive in its language and this view is taking it too far. Though one should not overlook that certain rock group’s with their demonic acts have gleefully and purposely built the ‘satanic’ perception over the years.
Having said that, one often hears the words ‘hell knows’ etc used in a colloquial manner. The great Churchill was honest to opine "If Hitler invaded hell, he would make a favourable reference to the devil in the house". Churchill himself was subject to being ‘hell-ised’ with words "To hell with Churchill’s speech" after requesting a taxi driver to take him to the BBC radio station for his own speech. The hurried looking taxi driver did not recognize him and wanted desperately to carry on to the other side of London. He changed his mind later after he was offered a pound by Churchill, big money in those days.
But the one who really got me with his assessment of hell was Aldous Huxley "Maybe this world is another planet’s hell". Going by what some of the world’s leading politicians are doing, I don’t think he is wrong. I am sure the denizens there will surely not have a problem finding the Lucifers here. It will be easy pickings. Hell maybe, Heaven surely knows I am right.
About the Author:
Author: Irwin Rego- Bahrain