» Poetry

If Death Is Another Dimension

If I meet Michio Kaku, I

won’t ask him about supernovas and black holes, about

New York or California, but

about his pond of fishes;

How they live two-dimensional lives

unaware that there is life beyond

water.  We can’t breathe without air,

Dr. Michio Kaku. We


can’t breathe even without the love

of our loved ones; the stomach churns, the heart

beats so fast when I think of my mother; in this

limited three-dimensional existence of

social media, and nuclear bomb,

Elon Musk Brand colonies in Mars, it is

hard for me to breathe if

I think about the moment

when the doctor woke me up: we have

been looking for you; your

mother is no more.


Did he really say your mother

or patient number something-something? Did he say,

your wife, to my father who was lying in the bed

against the wall? She lived a glorious life, she lived

an abundant life, I said, hugging him with one hand,

but not asking him to stop crying. I didn’t say

it is okay because it wasn’t; I didn’t say

it will be okay because it never will be.


That was five years ago; life was different then;

winter, less harsh. Deaths, not so common as today. How

worried I would have been about her

now, if she were still living, in the world

of rationed care? This year,

when caregivers need care, while

an invisible killer sucks away our souls.


If I meet Michio Kaku, I will ask

about dimensions. He said once,

that we are like those fishes who live

in two dimensions, we are like those fishes

who can’t imagine there is life

beyond water. I will ask if death is another dimension

where good people go. Of course, the

people we love are always good.


Do people who leave us, watch us

from this dimension? Like we watch

protest marches, hot delivery post-men,

from our balconies? Or is it a new life

where you are born at the same age

you had died, and you appear

in this world as you were?


Dear Michio Kaku, if

death is another dimension, is it in this world

of rivers, deserts, mountains, meadows?

I had once watched a short film where

people go after they are dead; it is like a commune,

similar to our world: a TV, a living room, people

who spew scathing comments or shower compassion,

but this world is crowded; the character we follow

is upset, confused, remembers her past life, and doesn’t

know how she reached here. She doesn’t know

what she remembers is a past life. What if

life after life is a crowded room

with a TV blaring. Mundane, poor,

full of absences.


If I meet Michio Kaku,

I will ask him these things. I will

ask him where dead people go. If

the dead are really dead. If

the world they go to is

really a happy world where

they rest; if they live next to us,

can see us, can help us, can bless us. If

they are in peace.


Aruni Kashyap

Aruni Kashyap is a writer and translator. He is the author of His Father’s Disease (Context/ Westland Books India, 2019; Flipped Eye Books, UK) and the novel The House With a Thousand Stories (Viking/Penguin Random House, 2013). He has also translated from Assamese and introduced celebrated Indian writer Indira Goswami's last work of fiction, The Bronze Sword of Thengphakhri Tehsildar (Zubaan Books, 2013). He won the Charles Wallace India Trust Scholarship for Creative Writing to the University of Edinburgh, and his poetry collection, There is No Good Time for Bad News (Future Cycle Press, 2021) was a finalist for the 2018 Marsh Hawk Press Poetry Prize and 2018 Four Way Books Levis Award in Poetry. His short stories, poems, and essays have appeared in Catapult, Bitch Media, The Boston Review, Electric Literature, The Oxford Anthology of Writings from Northeast, The Kenyon Review, The New York Times, The Guardian UK, and others. He is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Georgia, Athens. He also writes in Assamese, and his first Assamese novel is Noikhon Etia Duroit (Panchajanya Books, 2019).