To the right stands the accused. In the center, a black-robed judge sits

behind the bench and to the left are five white-robed angels.

Judge says (flipping through pages of a file): Cause of death?

Accused: Concussion and severe head injury due to torture.

Judge: The file says suicide.

Accused: It’s a mistake your honor, I died under torture.

Judge: Although cause of death has no bearing on our judgment, you are the

first to claim we have committed error. Are you claiming the executor has

erroneously reported your cause of death? This is uncanny. Our death

squads are well trained. Are you quite certain you didn’t kill yourself?

Accused (sarcastically): How could I forget such pain?  I was tortured for

weeks. They pulled my fingernails, sent electric shocks through my entire

body and flogged me on the back…

Judge (impatiently): Enough. Do you remember the agent who took your


Accused: No, your honor. But the torturers referred to each other as

“doctor” or “professor”.

Judge: Enough. Why do you insist on answering every question with

sarcasm? I am referring to the agent dispatched from the divine

organization to take your life. Under our new guidelines, he must have

handed the death warrant to you personally before carrying it out. Do you

remember his face?

Accused: Oh! The face of death was dreadful, your honor, absolutely


Judge (furiously wagging his finger at the accused): We don’t care how you

died. We review cases like yours on daily basis. Besides, dying under torture

is not a plus for you. Everyone has to die somehow. I warn you not to make a

fuss about your cause of death.  When your time is up the death warrant is

issued by the higher council and the work order is sent to the team of terror

and they promptly act. This is our routine.

However, according to the newly ratified regulations, authorities are to add

a little flare to death. So every year, to make it more exciting, we draw

names and the winners get to kill themselves however they wish. This is just

to add a little flavor to death.

Your name is under this column too. According to your file, you were

supposed to commit suicide but you claim you didn’t. What happened?

Accused: I request a thorough review of the facts of my case to avoid

further errors?

Judge: You are not in a position to tell us what to do. Error in our system has

no meaning. Our intelligence is so accurate that we even know what will

cross your mind in the future. This is how sophisticated our system is.   You

are dealing with the divine council, not the utility company.  This court

proceeding is just a matter of formality Sir. Your fate has already been


Judge impatiently flips through the pile of pages on his desk: Obviously we

have no choice but to spend more time on your case. I do see several eraser

marks in your file.  Please respond accurately to every question so we set

the record straight. Have you ever committed suicide?

Accused: Yes.

Judge: But you told us you didn’t kill yourself. Didn’t you say you died under


Accused: That was the case.

Judge (irritated): Would you tell us how did you finally die?

Accused: On the eve of my eighteenth birthday, my parents threw a lavish

party and invited a host of friends and family. That night our house was full

of people drinking and eating in celebration of my eighteenth birthday. That

was the very night I decided to take my life. I always knew my father kept a

handgun in the house; after a hurried search I found it behind some boxes in

his closet. It was loaded with only one bullet. I took it to my room, aimed at

my temple, and pulled the trigger.

Judge: So you committed suicide?

Accused: Yes and no.

Judge: You pulled the trigger.

Accused: I did. An enormous explosion filled my head and I collapsed.

Judge: Tell us what happened. Give us the punch line.

Accused: I shot myself but there was no blood or pain. I wasn’t feeling

anything until suddenly the door flung open and every one stormed into my

bedroom and found me lying on the floor. I was unharmed with a smoking

handgun in my grip. I peered up at them, baffled like an idiot. When they

saw me in that ridiculous position, they burst into laughter and raised their

glasses and toasted my health. I could see they were laughing but couldn’t

hear anything.

Judge: How were you still alive?

Accused: The bullet in the gun was a blank. The explosion only left me deaf,

but I was unharmed.

Judge and the jury of angles roar with laughter.

Judge (puts his finger to his lips for silence): So you tried again?

Accused: I tried once again.

Judge: Your case is quite amusing and it gets more and more interesting.

Tell us how you blew it the second time?

Accused: A few months later, I decided to take my life by taking a cyanide

pill. It was a frozen winter night; the city was blanketed with snow. That

night, I had the death pill in my fist like a priceless gem and my hand in my

pocket rushing home to take my life.

The streets were empty, no one was roaming in the cold nights and after

government imposed curfew. The security agents were patrolling the empty

streets looking for political activists. From far they must’ve spotted me

walking suspiciously fast.

Suddenly I felt a sharp pain in my leg and collapsed on the pavement. They

shot me because I didn’t heed to their order to stop. I watched my blood

staining the fresh white snow dark, like ink spilling onto blank paper.

I coiled my body in an excruciating pain when they reached me and

frantically started searching my pockets. When they found the death pill,

they were convinced I was a dangerous political element. They threw me in

the patrol car and began the beating to extract vital information. They kept

asking questions that I couldn’t even hear as I was almost deaf and now in

severe pain.

In a matter of minutes I lost unconsciousness. When I awoke I was lying on

the floor of a dark and cold room. I could feel my body like a piece of meat in

slaughterhouse surrendering to death. And at that moment, something

changed inside me. A powerful energy was keeping me alive. Unlike my

dying body, my soul was resisting death. Just a few hours ago I was

desperately pursuing death and now that the demon of death was staring at

me, I was not willing to surrender.

Judge: First of all, I warn you to use more appropriate language when

referring to the angel of death.

Now let’s review your dossier. The first time you decided to commit suicide,

you foolishly failed.

On your second attempt, you couldn’t even take a crummy pill and die. You

drug your feet until you finally fell into the hands of government agents. You

audaciously defied your kismet and now you have the nerve to brag about it?

Based on your life record reported here in your file and before you became a

renegade, you were to live eighteen years and not one day more. During

your eighteen years of life, you committed no sins. But the moment you

failed to take your life with that gun, you became an outlaw.

Your behavior in this court clearly reflects your state of mind. You are

constantly mocking our judicial system and accusing us of committing errors.

Now, listen to me carefully, how long did you live after your arrest?

Accused:  I was tried. But the trial was a formality as my fate was already

determined. So under a closed door sham trial I was convicted of subversive

activities and jailed for six months. These six months of captivity were the

only period of my life that I truly lived because I had a purpose and that was

to resist the hardship and defy death. This was the time I truly cherished life

and understood what it meant to be alive. And the more I resisted, the

more torture continued until I came here.

Judge: Now the case is clear. You were not to live more than eighteen

years. You failed to surrender to your fate not once but twice.  The second

time that you were supposed to give up your life was the night of your arrest

under torture. Your death warrant was issued three times. You rewrote

your destiny! This is an unforgivable sin. Because of your defiance, your file

doesn’t reflect your deeds after the age of eighteen. You lived on your free

will and that we do not tolerate!

Your actions have created chaos. The poor torturer who was to take your

life that night will be reprimanded for his utter negligence when he appears

before us. There will be an extensive investigation here and authorities at all

levels with be held responsible for this fiasco. By all accounts, you are a

rogue element.  

Do you have anything else to say in your defense?

Accused: No.

The jury members put their heads together for a few minutes then one

approaches the bench and whispers the verdict to the Judge.

Judge: After careful consideration of all facts of your case, this court finds

you guilty of committing the cardinal sin. You are sentenced to the

maximum penalty.

Sound of the gavel