“I was lost for a long time. I guess that’s how most of us feel in this world of chaos and constant disruptions, we search for a purpose. Sometimes we simply accept our existence on this planet and everything that it entails as it is. Some of us live well while others struggle every minute of every day, some seek higher meaning of life wanting to be more and to do more, while others just drift through the stream of life without direction. I was among the later. I did not believe in seeking the purpose of life, in fact, I believed that no one can ever really know what that purpose is, so why bother? I lived one day at a time. There was not much I wanted from life, except a peaceful death. I wanted to go to bed one day and to never wake up again. At least, that was what I thought until the day my life came unhinged,” he was recollected his past.
The day started like any other day, there was nothing special about it. Hansel woke up like he always did and went to work. Just so you know, he worked at a local pharmacy. He was a pharmacist who lived a mundane life. He lacked ambition and was content with everything he had. He had nothing to prove to anyone, least of all himself. He was an average person living an average life, doing what most people do. That day, however, was a turning point for him. After work he decided to visit his sister. That was something out of the norm for him because he was not very close to her. Also, living in different cities made it difficult to run into each other that often.
Sarah was his only living family, the only person he loved and resented at the same time. She was his opposite, everything he was not she was. She used to nag him about everything from his career to his lack of love life. That was probably the reason why he avoided seeing her often. She was a doctor come actress. She pursued field of medicine and then decided that was not what she wanted. Good for her, not so much for the patients who were relying on her. Everything she did, she did well. She was a brilliant doctor and now her acting skills were unmatched. If Hansel was truthful to himself he would admit how much he admired his sister. But he was not that honest.
That day Sarah was very happy, which wasn’t unusual for her. She didn’t tell Hansel why, just said that he’d know when the time’s right. He hated it when she did that. She could be so dramatic at times and she loved creating suspense. He was sure it was nothing special so he didn’t press the point. Even a new dress or a pair of shoes that she liked had the ability to make her happy
“You finally got the time to visit your sister,” she said in a way of greeting.
“I’ve been busy,” he replied.
“Yeah, as if,” she smiled teasing him, “I’m you sister remember? I know you well and I also know how busy you are not.”
“I can’t argue with that,” he thought it better not to argue with her, “I missed you and wanted to spend some time with you. How have you been?”
“As you can see, never been better,” she gave him her best smile. She was the kind of person who had the ability to brighten up even the darkest corners. “You don’t seem well,” she was also very perceptive even though not many would guess that about her.
“I am fine,” he had no idea how to explain it to her, “I just…”
“You need someone to make you happy,” once again she reminded him that his reclusive lifestyle was no way to live, “you’re not happy and I’m not living in the same city to be able to visit you often. I worry for you. I want you to be happy. You’ve mourned for long enough, don’t you think?”
“That has nothing to do with it, I’m just never happy, but I am not sad either,” he replied, “I’m content with my life, there is nothing wrong with that. You know, I’m not an emotional person. I don’t think that I can ever feel truly happy anyway.” Sometimes he wondered if there was something wrong with him. He would never voice his fears in front of anyone, least of all his sister. His lack of emotions could be very annoying to some people, probably why he didn’t get attached to others. Now to think of it, he didn’t even have any close friends. Most people he knew kept their distance from him. That was wise though. People only complicate things and he needed a simply drama free life.
“Still, I think you need to start living a little,” she persisted.
“People die so why get attached to someone only to mourn their absence later.” So, that is how he felt.
“You don’t love because you fear loss?” She sounded shocked. It was probably the most revealing conversation she had had with him. He himself didn’t know why he said that. It wasn’t unusual for her to criticize his life. He had never tried to explain it to her before. She wouldn’t understand and he wasn’t the type to give explanations. He admired his sister’s strength, she dealt with loss so well. She knew how precious life was and she also knew how fragile it was. She had somehow found her balance. While he was still lost, more now than ever.
“That’s when it happened. On my way back home, my car was hit by a truck. They say I lost consciousness on the impact. I don’t remember feeling any pain. One minute I was thinking about my sister’s blissful life and the next minute it was all dark and silent. I remember the silence. That’s all I remember. It was profound,” he continued with his story, “don’t worry I didn’t die that day as you can see. I just went to hell. At least, I was not lost any more, I finally knew where I was, but I still didn’t know why I ended up there.”
Hansel woke up deaf. he couldn’t hear a single sound, not that there was any sound there. At least none that he could hear. The silence reined supreme. All was quiet, he couldn’t even hear his own voice. It was a very strange place. As far as he could see there were poppy fields, nothing else. He didn’t see any roads or trails so he walked around, without direction, without purpose. He had no idea how long he wandered in those endless fields. It could be an hour, one day, or one month. He wasn’t tired though nor was he hungry or thirsty, however, he was frustrated and so very lonely. He wanted to go home. He wanted to talk to his sister some more, maybe even move somewhere closer to her so that he would see her more often. Most of all, he wanted to hear a sound. HE wanted to listen to some music. Any sound. In that moment he realized how scared he was, and how absolutely terrifying the silence was. No wind blew, no birds chirped, sun didn’t set, and that one day stretched to infinity, never ending. That’s how he knew he was in hell, because where else could it be but hell? In the silent poppy fields he was all alone and there was nothing for him to do except think.
“Ultimately, I accepted my fate. I sat down and I contemplated. I thought about my life. I thought about all the things I never got to do. I never fell in love. I didn’t travel to anywhere exciting. I never dreamed any dreams. Mostly, I never really lived, I merely existed. I never did anything for anyone, never went out of my way to help another soul. It’s true that I also never intentionally harmed anyone, but that’s not the point. The point is that I was self-engrossed, no one else mattered, nothing else mattered. That was my life. Was it a good one? I think it was better than many, but it’s also true that it could’ve been so much more. Then I remembered…..,” now he was pensive.
There was a time when things were different. Before their parents died in a senseless shooting incident, Hansel and Sarah were quite close, as close as any two siblings could ever be. They shared everything, they talked too much, they laughed too hard. They were a perfect picture of happy family. Their parents had made sure that two teenagers knew nothing of life’s worries. In those days Hansel also had dreams. He wanted to see the world. He wanted to find a cure for cancer. He wanted to do so many things. He was as enthusiastic about life as his sister. He loved life. He loved all the people around him. He had no idea how he forgot that time of his life, when the sun shone just a little bit brighter, when the stars glared with a little bit more dazzle, when the wind blew more strongly, and when he smiled more happily. he was happy. He was! He had no idea it was even a possibility for him. But in that moment, he remembered his smile, his eyes so full of merriment. “So, there was more to life after all,” he thought to himself. Among the poppies and the silence, he finally heard his heart’s cries. He realized all that he was missing. His hell became his heaven. As deafening as the silence was, it made him listen to what his sister had been trying to say for a very long time now. Finally, he decided that he wanted more. He wanted to be happy once again.
“Unfortunately, it was not meant to be. I was in hell and there was no way out of it. That’s the last thing I thought about before I woke up from death. This time in a hospital bed. My sister was asleep in a chair beside my bed. Seeing her face made me genuinely happy this time. I was back in the world of the living. I got a second chance at life and I promised to do better this time. I promised myself that this time around I’ll live for others,” now he had smile on his face.
“Oh well, I almost forgot the most important part,” he said looking at the curious faces of his audience.
“What’s that?” Someone asked.
“That’s also how I met the love of my life,” he continued, “that woman stole my heart, it was love at first sight.”
“I want to hear more about her,” someone else said.
“So, there is more to the story?” Another voice quipped.
“Oh yes, and that’s the most important part of the story my dear,” Hansel chuckled, “even though I almost died, which changed the course of my life, but sometimes I wonder how much of it was because of my near-death experience and how much was because of her love. You see, my Torri was a great woman, who had devoted her entire life to serve humanity. She was a doctor that truly cared about her patients. She brought me back to life both literally and figuratively.”
“Where is she now?” he could see how curious his audience was.
“That’s a story for another day,” he smiled sadly. It was amazing how many emotions he could feel at the same time. He was happy that he met Torri, he was sad that he lost her so soon afterwards, and he was hopeful that life had more instore for him.
“How you live your life will determines where you end up after you die. I just hope no one ends up in a silent poppy field, and if they do they are lucky enough to find their way back the way I did. I was in a limbo for a long time and then suddenly I was in hell. I did end up getting another chance at life. This life, for me, this is heaven and now I’ve no regrets. Also this time around I won’t end up anywhere bad, I know that in my heart that Torri awaits me on the other side, not those dreadful poppies nor that deafening silence.”
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