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By Krupa Elsa Saji

I buried my face into his shirt, trembling with fear. He ran his fingers through my hair as he hugged me tightly.

“Why are there so many thunderstorms these days?”, I frowned.

He smiled. “C’mon, They’re not that bad!”, he said.

“You won’t get it”, I said watching the lightning flash.

The lights went out. Every element of a horror story seemed to present itself. I closed my eyes and whispered the prayers my father had taught me when I was a little girl, begging the storm to pass soon.

“Why do you think the clouds thunder?”, he asked, interrupting my train of thoughts.

“ I don’t know. Something with atoms colliding in the sky?”, I said, my eyes doubtful as I fixed my gaze on him.

He let out another smile. “My mom told me a story her father once narrated. He had quite an interesting view about thunderstorms.”, He said as he reminisced.

He paused for a while and then continued. “He told her that, ever so often, there would be a war between the spirits staying in heaven and hell. Legend says that the world in the sky had a special room. The winning team would get to use that room whenever they liked.”

“What was so special about that room?”, I asked.

“It is believed that the room could show you anyone you wanted to see who was on earth and maybe even pass a message to them once in a while, if you had enough points.”, he remarked.

“Points?”, I said, looking at him eagerly as he continued.

“Well, just like we need to work and earn money for rent, food, and whatnot, those departed have special tasks which give them points. They can use these points to purchase whatever they like.”, he said.

“Interesting!”, I said, as I waited for him to go on.

The thunder kept echoing furiously and seemed to be getting stronger by the minute. However, I couldn’t help wondering who would win the war today.

He looked around the room and continued to speak, “God thought it was unfair to keep a war to determine which team got the room. So, every time there’s a conflict, a battle is scheduled. Each battle is unique in its own way and involves a different set of skills each time. Every time you hear thunder, it indicates the completion of a round and one of the teams gets closer to winning. At the end of the match, the winning team gets to use the room and see their loved ones turn by turn and even send a message with the wind.”

My mind battled to find the logic behind this childhood fantasy. But I saw it made him happy reliving his memories.

“So, who do you think will win today?”, I asked childishly.

“I don’t have a clue.”, he answered. “I used to lay in my bed and wait, refusing to sleep just because I was determined to make it to the end of the battle and see who won. But I never made it.”, he said.

“And why’s that?”, I asked, watching his eyes twinkle as he spoke.

“Well, my mom scared me into sleeping. She said that while everyone would be busy watching the battle, one or two of the naughty demons would escape to re-enter this realm and search for little kids who lay awake.”, he laughed.

We had a good laugh. The thunder seemed to have stopped bothering me. He told me about his grandfather who had left the world battling cancer just like his mom. He told me he wasn’t sure if he would make it far enough to tell his daughter the tale when the thunder got too loud.

Somewhere all along, he knew it.

He left two months before she got here. And the sky thundered to welcome its new being.

“Lilly, time for bed!”, I announced as my five-year-old stood by the window. “But Mummy, Daddy hasn’t sent the message yet!”, she frowned. “It could take a while, honey. It’s already late and you have your recital tomorrow.”, I said as I tucked her in. “Do you think Daddy will see my recital tomorrow?”, she asked. “I’m sure he’ll be there.”, I said as I kissed her goodnight.

The thunder roared furiously. The lightning flashed across the sky. I waited for the breeze, yet all the while hoping that my guardian angel would break through the realm while heaven and hell battled for a glimpse of the earth, just like he once hoped.

By Krupa Elsa Saji

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