“Whenever you are in doubt, just close your eyes, fold your hands and ask god for the answer. Because god, my son, is the ultimate power. If sometime, someday he is late in giving a reply, it means he wants to you to try and search for the answer yourself.”, the words of his dead mother echoed in the mind of Thomas as he sat by her grave, sobbing emphatically.
“But ma, where should we look for the answer, if someday we are in that situation”, Thomas had replied.
“The Universe is very big my child, its infinite. But if your heart is true, you may find infinity and there at that moment you would know The Truth.”, Thomas could see the smile on his mothers face when he closed his eyes.
Thomas’ mother, the Queen, had died of cancer a week ago. His father had already been dead for as much time Thomas had been alive. Therefore he was left orphaned, with his seventeen year old brother, who was now crowned the new king. George loved his mother a lot but this new responsibility had given him no time to mourn for the loss. But Thomas, who was just nine years old was completely heart broken.
Since the death of his mother, he had spent hours sitting in the Church and asking Jesus why did he take his mother with him. He never stopped crying, because the tears gave him a warmth, similar to his mother’s kiss.
But failing to get any answers, he lost all hope. That day he threw a burning candle at the statue and ran away from the Church. He had mixed emotions as he moved his little feet quickly towards the gate. One moment he felt happy that he had challenged god, the other he felt a strong fear that the ultimate power might destroy him, there and then. He reached the cemetery, turned around and had a sigh of relief. No one was following him, so maybe the god in the church is just a lifeless stone, he thought.
He sat there for a long time. Pondering over what all had happened and how he could reason with it. He thought maybe his mother didn’t teach him everything, maybe there were more secrets of the world, the secrets which even the ultimate power wouldn’t know. Suddenly he heard the noise of approaching cavalry. The soldiers had come to the cemetery. Leading them was the King. He jumped down from his horse, walked towards Thomas and hugged him. He ordered the soldiers to move back to leave both of them alone.
“Oh, my brother, you need to move on, my little sibling.” said King George.
Thomas bowed to him and said,
“But Your Majesty, I can’t forget her, I won’t be satisfied until god answers my questions and gives a reasonable explanation”
“Oh! You poor thing, you should not talk that way about god. Now I believe it is you who started the fire in the Church. If the Archbishop comes to know about it, you would be hanged. Now listen to me very carefully, in this kingdom, you need to follow the rules, like you have always done. The most important of all is that your actions, by any means, should not hurt religious sentiments.”
“But George, I am sorry, Your Majesty, mother always said that god helps those in doubt. Now when I am in doubt, why has he been hiding? My heart won’t accept this”
“Thomas, everything will be alright, you just come with me. We will look for answers together, but right now lets go to our Palace and have a moment of peace.”
He made Thomas sit behind him on the horse and they started riding. The soldiers were following him. Thomas hugged his brother from behind, resting his little head on his strong back. There was a strife going on his mind, his heartbeat was heavy. In confusion, he jumped from the horse, got up on his feet and started running. George turned his horse to see what had happened, as the soldiers decided to follow Thomas. George signaled them to stop,
“Let him go, lets see if he really can find an answer”
It was a very cold winter night. There was no signs of life outside as little John sat on the porch of his house. He was crying, the Emperor had arrested his parents, just one week before his favorite festival, Christmas! He didn’t know what crime they had done, but he had heard that they were held guilty because they believed in love and god. He had also heard that arrests like this were made every year during the time of festivals. It was the first festival for John in the Big City, as he called it. He had been very excited because the last eight Christmas’ of his life were celebrated back in the very small town, where he used to live. But all his hopes seemed to be lost now, because of peculiar reasons.
History said that thirty years ago, the younger son of the Royal Family, had returned after disappearing suddenly, a few days after his mother’s death. Emperor Thomas, as he was called now, overthrew his elder brother, George, to claim the title for himself. On the day of his coronation he said that during twenty years of his life he had searched for The Truth in almost all parts of the world. He had reached a conclusion that there is no god in the world, a man decides his fate himself.
“Commit a sin, there will be no god to punish you, do a charity, there will be no god to reward you. Every action of man, in his lifetime, effects him the most. And remember one thing, love is the most painful drug in life, so I have planned to eradicate love from the face of earth.”
Now the Emperor had developed a deep hatred for love and he considered all religions a source of misery. Therefore he decided to declare activities related to religion as offense and he roamed throughout his kingdom warning people to stay away from love. The first one to break the law was his brother, George. He was hanged to death.
John was trembling with cold, the snow had started melting. It was then he saw a red colored rose in his garden. It was almost dead. The petals were cold and dry, John touched it lightly. He felt pity for it and went inside his house to find something to help it. He melted some ice on the stove and poured the water in its roots. He was amazed by the way he finished the task. He had always requested his mother to let him burn the stove, but she always refused.
Now, he felt happy to be home alone. Doing all the things he always wanted to, but was subdued by his parents. The rose gave him inspiration. He slept all alone on the big bed, in the big quilt.
The next day was a bit warmer than the previous, yet too cold to be in festive mood. John woke up late, still rubbing his eyes, he went out to see the rose. He was astonished to see that it felt better and happier now. He spent more time with it, it became his silent friend. With each day getting warmer and John taking good care of it, the rose was now in a blooming stage.
Finally, it was Christmas Eve. Now John realized that he was missing his parents. He had finished all the cereal, the radio seemed more of a noise to him and he had no presents to keep under the Christmas tree. He went out and sat by the rose. He started talking to it.
“ I have to admit now I am missing my parents a lot. The house looks so scary from inside. What should I do, I am in pain.” , John started crying, his heavy teardrops were falling in the roots. John didn’t speak anymore, he sobbed continuously for a few hours and dozed off right there, beside the red rose.
It was Christmas! And luckily that day the sun came out, after almost a month of hibernation. The snow was being cleared, the Big Town looked like heaven on earth.
Where in normal cities, the day started with Church bells tolling and the families getting excited, there in the Kingdom of Emperor Thomas, there were no churches and the families hid in their homes, terrified. Terrified because they knew the Emperor could come for a round anytime. Emperor Thomas prepared his troops and the death march was on.
Quite early in the day, Emperor Thomas reached the street where John lived. The sound of trumpets and marching of soldiers woke him up. The army was moving uniformly when the Emperor ordered them to stop as soon as they reached John’s house. John was terrified, but the Emperor was stunned. The red rose was now in its full bloom, it was the most beautiful thing the Emperor had ever seen. And he fell in love with it. A love he had not experienced since forty years.
Emperor Thomas examined the rose closely, his eyes falling deep into the pretty red color and the aroma made him ecstatic. John couldn’t understand what the Emperor was feeling, but he felt a great fear inside his heart. He kept on moving away, while he was still on ground. And when the Emperor lifted his hand to touch the rose, John shrieked.
The Emperor could not touch it, as a thorn pierced his thumb.
He cried out in pain. A pain similar to what he had felt on losing his mother. All the memories came back, both the happy and sad ones. He realized he was wrong all along. Yes, love is poison, but a life without love is like death. He realized god exists, not in the Church, but in our hearts as love. It is love which exists as god and punishes us for sins and rewards us for goodness. It is love which exists as god and controls our heart, our mind and even our soul.
Emperor Thomas climbed up his horse, ordered his soldiers to stay and disappeared as he rode off. When he didn’t return for a few weeks it was declared,
“The Emperor has disappeared into infinity!”