How would you feel if you woke up waiting in an endless room one day?
Chats with the Dead gets us to meet Malinda Albert Kabalana (or Maali Almeida), who sets out to reach ‘The Light’ – a place where the afterlife comes to an end and the next life on Earth begins. As he glides his way through the afterlife, he meets some dead folks – who are way chattier than one would expect the dead to be. They have some very engaging stories to tell.
We are revisiting some of our favourite afterlife folks below!
The Dead Lawyer is witnessing a protest by 113 victims of the 1987 Pettah Bomb blast demanding justice. She wonders:
‘If suicide bombers knew they end up in the same waiting room with all their victims, […] They may think twice.’
Adjusting to the mysterious afterlife, Maali notices the Dead Lovers by the elevator at Galle Face Court. The woman wears a chiffon dress and the man is in a banian and Burberry shorts. The couple tells Maali that,
‘We went together in 1948. […] He was Sinhala, I was Muslim. I think you know the rest of the story.’
When Maali inquires why haven’t they gone for The Light, the Dead Lovers respond with:
‘They say The Light is bigger than heaven or hell […] Easy to get lost. If you think you have found a soulmate, go to them and hold tight.’
Maali comes across his Dead Mother who admits,
‘There is so much to see. I listen to music in different homes. I like to play with the children. I like watching married couples fight.’
When Maali asks her about The Light, she replies:
‘I was abused throughout my marriage. I was forced to give up a baby, my firstborn. If I step into The Light, will they reward me for suffering? Or punish me for being a bad mother?’
A few adventures later, Maali ends up in an exhibition titled ‘Law of the Jungle. Photography by MA.’ The gallery is filled with the finest shots taken by Maali. While looking at the photographs, he’s interrupted by his first visitor – the Dead Dog. And the Dead Dog can talk!
‘If I am reborn human, I will commit cot death.’
Towards the end of his journey to The Light, Maali is visited by the Dead Leopard who is fascinated by human intelligence. The Dead Leopard admits:
‘I tried to survive without killing. Lasted a month. What to do? I am a savage beast. Only humans can practice compassion properly. Only humans can live without being cruel. I want some of that.’
Maali disagrees and tells the Dead Leopard that humans are most savage of all living beings. The Dead Leopard still wishes to be a human in his next life and asks the way to The Light. He says,
‘Leopards can’t invent lightbulbs. I’ll take my chances.’
Shehan Karunatilaka, bestselling author of Chinaman, is back with a darkly comedic tale of voices from beyond!