God had a headache.
This wasn't new, for God often had a headache. Usually it was a hangover, sometimes it was migraine, and sometimes it was nagging. It was in the throes of a headache that He'd created the Universe in order to have something on which to vent His spleen. And then He'd had to invent a spleen to vent it.
But this was a doozy of a headache. This was a headache so severe that even a Godhead shouldn’t ache quite so much. He had a headache so severe that He wanted to scream and shout and wave His arms about with the pain of it, and that wouldn’t be dignified for a God to do. Not even if He were the beginning and end of the Universe and there was nobody who would dare to laugh at Him.
So He called his physician angel to treat him. But the physician angel couldn’t help.
“It’s Your own fault, You see, Lord,” the physician angel murmured, fluttering his wings nervously and readying himself for a quick getaway. God had been known to unleash divine thunderbolts at lesser provocation than this, or worse. Why, the physician angel could tell stories, like the time when his surgeon colleague had been fried to a crisp. Why had the surgeon angel been fried to a crisp? He’d followed God’s own orders and removed a rib from that naked ape, Adam, and used tissue from it to clone a female ape, which God had named Eve, and that Eve had stolen fruit from God’s favourite tree: fruit God was far too stingy to share with anyone, even Mrs God. So God had not only kicked the pair of no-longer-naked apes out of His garden, He’d gone further, too, and taken out His anger on the instrument of His will. With a snap and crackle, He’d fried the surgeon to a crisp for following His orders in the first place. Heaven had stunk of charred feathers for weeks afterwards.
So the physician angel was more than a bit nervous. He shuffled his wings, cast a longing look at the exit, and swallowed. “It’s Your own fault, Lord,” he repeated.
“What’s that?” God roared, sending ten thousand thunderstorms racing across the skies of Earth. “How dare you say it’s My fault? How can anything be My fault? I am an omniscient and omnipotent being. I am by definition faultless!”
The physician angel had a sudden spurt of rebellion. A very tiny spurt, but a spurt nonetheless. “If You’re so omniscient,” he retorted, “why didn’t You avoid whatever it is that gave You the headache?”
At that God’s mood changed abruptly. “How can I avoid it?” He whined piteously. “Nobody understands Me. Nobody sympathises with Me. All they do is pray and pray.”
“And?” the physician angel was astonished. “You don’t want them to pray?”
“Just how long do you think you could bear it,” God demanded belligerently, “if you had to listen to the exact same prayer repeated from beginning to end, word for word, a hundred thousand times? Do you imagine My ears don’t get tired?”
“You bet they do,” God replied triumphantly. “It’s not even as if they show any originality. If only they’d pray to be allowed to get away with a really cool murder, or something. Or even if they’d pray just once. But no. It’s the same old things, over and over, in the same words, exactly.” His voice began to rise angrily. “Recently I had to sit through a hundred and eight recitations of the same prayer. A hundred and eight, repeated back to front, like a tired Bollywood hit. Do people think repeating the same demand over and over will make Me grant it more easily? Huh?”
“Um, well,” the physician angel said. “I suppose it’s because they have so much faith in You.”
“Faith?” God spluttered. “Don’t you dare utter that word in My presence. Faith!”
“Sorry? I thought You valued fai...I mean, that thing, over all others.”
“So did I,” God said. “But yesterday I overheard some of the humans talking. One of them said he had faith in Me because I was perfect.” He snivelled. “Another said, if I was so perfect, there wasn’t much point having faith in Me. I was about to strike him down, of course...”
“Of course,” the physician angel murmured.
God gave him a dirty look. “Strike him down,” He repeated, loudly. “But then, I decided to listen a little more, to get the full depth of his depravity. And he said that if I was less than perfect, and had still achieved all that I’d achieved, there would be a point in having faith in Me.” He paused dramatically. “And if I was completely imperfect, utterly malignant and malevolent, and still achieved it all, why, then, that would be a God worth having faith in. Can you imagine Me being malignant or malevolent? Me?”
“So you struck him down, of course?” the physician angel asked diplomatically. His wings were beginning to itch with apprehension. “You didn’t suffer him to live?”
“I was going to thunderbolt him,” God said, “but I missed and burned a family to a cinder instead. Dad, mom, old grandpa, three kids and the family dog. I’m missing so often these days, My eyes must be going. Fortunately,” He added, “they were only Afghans, so it wasn’t as though it actually mattered.”
“That must have been a stroke of luck,” the physician angel agreed. “What does Mrs God say about it?”
God looked hunted and glanced fearfully over His shoulder. “Shh,” He shushed. “Don’t take Her name in vain. She might be listening. As it is, She’s in one of Her moods, and it isn’t pretty. She says...” God swallowed and rubbed His beard. “She says I’m a killjoy and a petty tyrant.”
“No!” the physician angel protested. “Whatever in Heaven made Her say that?”
“Oh, I don’t know. She was playing around bringing joy and happiness to the lives of some insignificant people and I was a bit tetchy, so I squashed them flat. I made some other people think they were Chosen and told ‘em to wipe the first lot out and leave nothing, not even the animals. And,” God replied with gloomy satisfaction, “they did.”
“But She wasn’t happy?”
“She was not. She said...”
Distantly, there was a noise of crockery being dashed to the floor. It sounded like mountains splitting. “Killer!” a feminine voice screamed. “Genocidal megalomaniac! War criminal! Psycho!”
Both God and the physician angel winced. “It’s been going on all this time,” God whispered.
“I see what You mean,” the physician angel said. “Well, Lord, if that will be all, I’ll be getting along.”
“You can’t help Me at all?” God asked, plaintively. “Not even a teeny bit?”
“You see, Lord,” the physician angel informed Him, “if You’re omnipotent, why don’t You solve the problem for Yourself? You could cure Yourself, couldn’t You?”
“If I were that omnipotent,” God asked pathetically, rubbing His head, “if I were omnipotent at all, do you think...” He paused.
“Lord?” the physician angel prompted, when the pause had gone on and on.
God blinked back a tear. “If I were omnipotent,” He asked, “do you think I’d be having such a devil of a headache?”
“The Devil might not like hearing You say that, Lord,” the physician angel warned. “I’m told he’s fixed up Hell pretty well. It’s not what it used to be.”
“No, it’s gone all liberal. Apparently it’s got all the modern conveniences, even internet.”
“Internet? What’s internet?”
“Oh, You know internet, Lord. You forbade it as evil, because you said it spread rationality and atheism. Hell has it and I hear they’re all very happy with it. Brings them all together, they said.”
“That’s it!” God shouted, jumping up. “I’m through with you. You’re fired!”
“Fired from what, Lord?” the physician angel asked, stepping back smartly from an accidentally discharged thunderbolt. “What are You firing me from?”
“From your position as medical advisor to the King of Heaven, of course, you nitwit,” God shouted. “Get out of My sight.”
“But if you’re omniscient,” the physician angel said logically, “where can I go that I’d be out of Your sight?”
“I don’t care. Go anywhere. Go to Hell.”
“Thank you, Lord,” the physician angel said, smiling. “Thank you ever so.”
It was, he thought, a Hell of a day, all right, as he flapped his way downwards.
He couldn’t wait to get online at last.
Copyright B Purkayastha 2012