The door bell chimed for a third time, this time a little impatiently. What intrigued me most was that everyone in the house was quite aware that I was down with a terrible headache, unable to lift my head from the bed even once in the last 24 hours. It was quite unlikely that they expected me to dart to the door every time the bell chimed in such a physical condition and so it surprised me a lot that no one answered it. I removed myself from the bed with great difficulty, took off my head band which was giving me some imaginary relief from my throbbing pain and headed for the door. No one seemed even to notice me walking to the door and that surprised me further. I opened the door to usher in a distinguished looking man accompanied by obviously his personal secretary who looked efficiency written all over and carried himself well. I offered them a seat in the drawing room which they politely declined and preferred to conduct our conversation in camera in my bed room. So I had to let them in reluctantly and it was again intriguing that no one noticed them as they walked with me into my room. The door closed behind us on its own to my utter astonishment! The senior of the two appeared very distinguished and very serious. He was dressed immaculately in black. He was a clean shaven man that brought out the dimple on his right cheek quite prominently though it did not go well with his serious countenance. He had extremely penetrative eyes that literally burnt through you like a laser beam and conveyed an impression that he could reach even such remotest parts of your brain that the most advanced scanning equipments would not be able to! His deputy looked like a thorough professional, the kind who would have everything at his finger tips. He had with him a sleek laptop the kind of which I had never seen before. It had the picture of the head of a menacing buffalo imprinted on top making me wonder what new brand it could be. For a second, I wished I had a secretary as efficient as he appeared to be! Don’t ask me why but for some strange reason, the duo reminded me of Yama and his deputy Chitragupt! Had they arrived by their well-known transport of a gleaming buffalo, I would have just taken them for granted. Even now, to clear my doubt, I looked out of the window to see if there was any buffalo parked in the ample car park! I should say that the duo appeared very trendy in their outfit, far different from the conventional picture of the buffalo riding Terminator. These must be some businessmen who might have come to consult me on some new venture, I thought and before I could offer them a seat, the senior seated himself in a comfortable chair while the junior preferred to stand behind him at a respectable distance. I took a seat in front of him and looked askance at him. I shot off from my seat like a SLV rocket when he announced himself without any preamble thus, ‘Yes Sri! You are right! I am Yama and he is my deputy Chitragupt!’ It was with great difficulty that I held back my heart that threatened to jump out of my chest but he calmed me down saying, “Sorry Sri to have barged in like this but you know how secretive I have to be! But let me assure you that I am not on my usual mission this time but first things first! You can call me Yam and my assistant as CG.” As though reading my mind further, he continued, “Sri! I know you are wondering how different I look from the image that you had conjured of me from your childhood, sans my buffalo, sans my 10kg gold crown, heavy gold ornaments and the silk panchakacham. I know you are also wondering why I am not carrying my long noose that I employ to catch my victims when their time has come. I gave it up since I thought it was not in keeping with my image as it projected me as some kind of a mean dog catcher and I hated it. Now with so much development in science and technology, I realized that I didn’t have to be so primitive in my methods. But don’t worry about all that, Sri! I have not come here to update you on what is happening in the heavens!’ I sat there transfixed with my eyes riveted on him. For the first time since our tête-à-tête started this evening, something resembling a smile creased his ample face. He was probably aware how tense I could be sitting in front of God of Death himself! He let out a sigh that was probably audible for a kilometer and continued his monologue. “Look Sri! I have assured you right on my arrival that I am not on my usual mission this time. I have actually come here on a very special mission and I want to tell you about it the moment you stop looking like a frog on a dissection table!” “Do you know Sri, that like the humans we too have crossed several mile stones in the heavens? There was a time when I got on to my buffalo with a list of lives to be retrieved from your world and I went about with my job with a song on my lips. Look at my job now! With the number of lives, I mean human lives alone, to be retrieved increasing from a few thousands to few millions daily in just about a thousand years, I too had to mechanise the whole process by introducing machines which are similar to your computers but our machines are, of course, several million times more efficient and powerful than the ones that are used in US defense and Space Research. This switch over did ruffle a few feathers among the Yama Kinkaras but I was able to contain it easily! I am telling you all this so that you may understand the purpose of my visit better!” “After all the revamping of our system, things were going pretty smooth till our system got affected by a deadly virus recently but our damage control department swung into action instantly. The virus got totally eliminated before any serious damage was caused but in the split second it took us to put the system back in order, a few wrong calls were sent for the retrieval of lives and I am sorry to say that yours is one of them! Our system initiated the termination process which in your case was to be a brain haemorrhage. My personal monitoring department set right the mistake instantly and intimated me.” “I have come here to apologize for this ghastly mistake and offer you an extended life span as compensation. You can now go about your job with your usual gusto! Enjoy your extended life span Sri and I wish you all the best!” That was as incredulous a story as I have ever heard in my life and I didn’t even know how to react to it! I remembered how my medicos described my condition as ‘Touch and go’ on the day of my discharge! I muttered some words as I normally do when I get tongue-tied but Yam seemed to understand what I was trying to say. He rose to take leave of me but looked surprisingly a bit embarrassed. Looking at it, I felt normal again and said to him, “It’s OK Yam , such mistakes do happen even in the best of systems and I am happy it went in my favour!” His stern look suggested that he did not like my condescending tone and held up his massive hand. “No, no Sri! It’s not that at all. There is a small favour that I need from you. My assistant CG tells me that you write some regular column in a site called Indus Ladies. I believe that you have a few regular readers there who are on his list of wrong-doers but their faults are of such a trivial nature that, according to the Divine Law, they constitute cognizable offence but not punishable. I can’t make you privy to what constitutes punishable offence and what doesn’t. For example, throwing a stone in a silken pond that has remained tranquil for ages and causing an unseemly ripple in it is a cognizable offence and we just raise our eyebrows at this annoying intrusion. At the same time, we don’t want such aberrations to go unpunished. So my deputy CG suggests that we request you to continue writing your column and make them read it as a kind of….er….punishment! Of course, you have the right to refuse, Sri. I do not want to appear to influence your decision but must tell you that we have full faith in your capacity. I must also tell you that the more effective you are in this job, the longer a life span we may grant you for assisting us in this task!” A large grin connected my two ears as I held out my hand to Yam. “A deal, boss!” I said and they just vanished without a word!