Somehow the Atheist Loiters in the Afterlife

What will become of me after I die? This, the question plaguing the absent-minded theorists of the afterlife, the question whose answer I don’t particularly want to pursue. I may be burned, my ashes deposited in a jar or dispersed in the wind to mimic desert sand. Along the way my soul may be liberated, sent to the pearly gates, or more likely be condemned to some circle of inferno. My remains may disintegrate into the soil, my cells entering the roots of trees, appearing in the flesh of various fruits. Never mind that; the more pressing matter at hand, perhaps vainly so, is what I’ll leave behind of myself in my writing. And this too, a tricky issue: ‘myself’ isn’t easy to define when each poem I write reflects a different person. ‘The one who writes this is not the one who reads it simultaneously,’ says one of them. And already those words are not mine; they belong to the woman who, two months ago, wrote them in a state of near delirium at midnight- no more are they a testament to my current existence. Could I conceive an all-encompassing story, one which acknowledges my every facet, continually morphing on time’s continuum? Even then it would leave out that part of me taking its last breath. Even then, it would only be a collection of ideas existing independently, even then the ‘me’ standing on the brink of infinite silence would be left without an Earthly counterpart. ‘Me’ has died, will die, many times; ‘me’ cannot overcome death in any way, only its thoughts, those chance creations of random neuronal discharges, will linger indefinitely, outside my influence, in the gaps between the words I’ll spend my life arranging.

-Shaakya Vembar


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