By Javed Ahmad
1971, the war is going on between the Bungladesh freedom fighters and the armed forces of West Pakistan. India has now entered the war supporting the Bungladesh cause. Every day and night Indian Air Force is bombing the Pakistani military positions. And the the missiles fired by Pakistani anti-aircraft guns are trying to chase those fighter planes away. It was a complete mood of war all around.
Then, I was just 9. Everyday late afternoon, me and my cousins used to get together to play the war games. Each of us running around the house with our fancy toy guns ducking, hiding and looking for enemies. When encountered each other, we kept on firing imaginary bullets at each other that never runs out, and never really kills. No one is willing to take a hit, and no one was willing to lose. Even if one had to take a hit due to very close range, it would take just one ally just to come and touch the supposed dead to bring him or her back to life to fight again! This was our rule of the game.
One day, in such an occasion, I made a bold move. In order to escape the bullets from a close range from enemy guns, I jumped from the car garage roof trying to reach the side walls around the building. And guess what, my foot missed the wall. Thus I fell about 10 feet right on the solid cemented ground on my back. And I began to see stars. Next thing I could remember is that my body didn't have any feelings, and I was carried by few of my cousins, some pulling my hands, some pulling my legs to home.
Later in the evening, my whole body began to feel an unbearable pain. And due to such pain, my body temperature shoot up as high as 104 degrees! Things began to get dark around me, and I was beginning to feel scared. Out of fear, I kept calling my mom, she was right next to me, holding me in her arms, replying to my call, "Here I am, here I am...". But slowly her voice faded away. I couldn't hear her anymore.
I felt like in total darkness. Everything vanished before my eyes, and all my pain and feelings were gone. Right ahead of me, all I could see a spot of light far away. Slowly getting bigger as it was approaching toward me. Suddenly a tall man with a red robe appeared in front of me.
Never seen him before. He was a handsome looking man with fair complexion. Clean shaven, but had a bit of a long dark hair covering his ears. His features were like that of a Persian man as I come to think of it now. He looked right above me, but not at me. As if he was trying to establish an eye contact with someone else, then he smiled.
I could see his right side now as he turned left, still smiling. Then suddenly, he faded away. Gradually, I began to fell the pressure of my mom's arms around me as she said into my ears, "Here I am, here I am...". I was saved, I was okay.
After all these years, when I try to analyze my experience, I realize that, it was actually a close encounter with Azrael, the angel of death. Because of my 'near death experience' (NDE) I got a glimpse of him. But my time was over yet. So he didn't bother to even look at me. Instead, he came to take someone else. Someone whom I didn't care to see. I was so mesmerized with his appearance that nothing else caught my attention except him.
I was not supposed to die then, so I returned. But a strange feeling tells me, I'll see him again. And this time, he will look right at me, perhaps with a smile.