George was absorbed in reading about Christianity, he concentrated on the correctness of the New and Old Testament and finding out what had been added to them. He felt that he tended to avoid this issue because it was so sensitive, but he felt that it was important to study it deeply, to make sure that his holy book is actually correct. One of the most difficult matters he discovered, though, was that this holy book contained many dubious accounts. George continued reading until lunch; he was so absorbed in his study that he ate his food while reading. A nurse passed by to take his temperature while he was so engrossed in reading, so she said to him:
•The nurse: You look like a student that has an exam!
•George laughed and said: Oh yes, I am a student in the school of life, either to succeed and be happy, or fail and be miserable.
•The nurse: You seem to be a philosopher!
•George: What matters is that I pass the test.
•The nurse: Passing the test of life is difficult; unfortunately most people seem to fail in it.
•The nurse: Because they want to. They don’t want to succeed.
•George: Either you are philosophizing, or you are saying strange words that contradict reality.
•The nurse: I am philosophizing. But will you excuse me now, I have work to do.
George smiled. He was astonished at her way of talking: how she talked deeply on philosophy, but finished the conversation so abruptly and then went away. What did she mean by saying that most of the people want to fail in the test of life? Did that make any sense?! In any event, she was there with him in the hospital, and he would ask her when he saw her again.
Tom entered the room while George was once again absorbed in reading. George did not notice Tom until he stood beside him and stroked his shoulder, with a smile on his face.
•Tom: You must have learnt all about Christianity, and all of its denominations.
•George: Welcome, Tom.
•Tom: How are you today?
•George: I am fine, as you can see; I didn’t expect that you’d pass by today.
•Tom: I chose this time because I thought that Katrina would most probably not be here.
•Tom: I think I made a mistake when I kissed her, I don’t know why I did it, and I feel that you don’t want me to see her. I know you probably don’t believe a word of what I am saying, and it is your right to think that way.
George smiled and said:
•George: No problem, but why did you tell Brad that you love Katrina and that you always kiss her, and you enjoy it so much?
•Tom: Did I say that?!
•George: This is what your office manager, Brad, implied when he visited me earlier today.
•Tom: You didn’t believe me before, so how will you believe me now? He is a mean liar.
•George: But you are talking about your office manager! Anyhow, he said these words to me this morning, in front of Katrina. Didn’t you also tell him that I was going to Tora Bora? Or did he guess that we were talking about this too?
•Tom: Oh, now I’ll have to tell you some things, although I didn’t want to.
•Tom: I know that my office manager or secretary, Brad, is bad and immoral, and I was silent about that because he used to help me in manipulating women. Believe me, I don’t know why but I have changed since your first visit; my readings and researches have been directed to debates on religion and on matters that bring happiness. But Brad did not like that and he had many conversations about that with me, and he even threatened me with some old photos he had of me with some of the patients. Then I discovered that he had fixed a camera to spy and listen to what I say to the patients in my room, and he knows what I do and say to people in my clinic. I only learned that three days ago, and we had a fierce disagreement about it. I threatened to expel him from work, and then he threatened that he would post all of my photos and records on the web. If this happens, my medical license will be revoked, and I don’t know what to do now! Do you believe what I’m saying? I would pardon you if you didn’t.
•George: Although this story does seem imaginary, I have some evidence that supports what you say.
•Tom: What evidence?
•George: During my last visit to you, Brad met me just when I was leaving, and he talked to me about Tora Bora. I am sure that you never came out of the room during the session, and that he didn’t enter.
•Tom: Why didn’t you tell me?
•George: What he said made me very surprised, but I thought that maybe it was just coincidence or what they call remote telepathy.
•Tom: Believe me I just told you the whole truth, and now it is up to you to believe me or not.
The nurse knocked at the door and rushed in.
•The nurse: Sorry for interrupting, but the doctor wants to talk to you urgently; he is on his way to you now.
•George: He is welcome, but what is the matter?
The doctor arrived.
•Doctor: Hello George. Sorry for this sudden visit, but it’s urgent.
•George: Go ahead Doctor.
•Doctor: I reviewed the results of the rest of your medical tests, and you need an urgent operation tomorrow.
•George: This seems critical.
•Doctor: Actually, I have to agree with you on that, that’s why I came to see you now. You have a chance to think about it and sign your consent before 12:00 pm tomorrow.
•George: Thinking and signing a consent!
•Doctor: I’ll have to explain things clearly to you and in more detail: we found that the viruses that causes the fever also causes damage to some parts of the brain whenever you get the fever. We expect that this is going to happen tomorrow at 8:00 pm, which means that it will happen during the operation. The bad news is that the success rate of the operation is only 60%, unfortunately. George: What about the other 40%?!
•Doctor: There could be some disorder in some parts of the brain.
•George: What does that mean?
•Doctor: Sorry, I cannot predict that now. Maybe nothing will happen, or may be there will be some unwanted consequences after the surgery.
•George: And you’re asking me to agree and sign a consent to this!
•George: What if I don’t agree to have the operation?
•Doctor: You will have to sign a form declaring that you were advised to have the surgery, but you refused. Though in my humble opinion I think it is better for you to have the operation, though we have never dealt with such a case before. Do you have any further questions?
•George: No, unless you have any more important information about the surgery.
•Doctor: No, nothing more. I only informed you after consulting the medical team, and that was their opinion. If you want to ask any more questions at any time, please tell the nurse and she will call me at once to answer you. I hope that you will think about it and sign the consent before 12:00 pm tomorrow.
•George: I’ll think about it and consult with others, then I’ll give you my answer.
•Doctor: It is best to take matters easy, as you normally do, and not to worry too much. Life, death, and illness are different aspects of the lives of human beings, and one has to live with this fact. Excuse me for now. I’ll visit you tomorrow at 9:00 am. If you have any question before then, please ask the nurse.
•George: Thank you Doctor.
The doctor left and George was drowned in silence until Tom’s voice interrupted his thoughts.
•Tom: George, life has no meaning unless we are happy, just as death has no meaning if we don’t believe in resurrection and the reckoning! How strange the philosophy of life and death is!
•George: Truly, how strange the philosophy of existence is! Why were we created? And what is our final destination!
•Tom: So what are you thinking about?
•George: I was wondering if I wanted to live or die.
•Tom: You don’t need to think about that, no one wants death.
•George: Why do people commit suicide? Hasn’t the percentage of suicide increased in the whole world? Didn’t I even want to commit suicide one day?
•Tom: How strange you are, George! The one who commits suicide ends his misery with another misery, but happy people don’t need that at all.
•George: When I wanted to commit suicide the whole world seemed too narrow, my misery had no limit; I wanted to end my misery with another misery, as you said.
•Tom: Are you still miserable now to need to choose between life and death?
•George: Actually, I started to feel happy when I began to travel on the path to happiness, and I keep asking myself: “So how would it feel if I actually reached happiness?”
•Tom: So hold on to life to attain happiness.
•George: I want life, but the question is; does life want me? I saw Mary struggling for life, but death defeated her.
•Tom: Trust God and He will help you.
•George: Ha ha ha! You have become confidently religious, Tom!
•Tom: Didn’t I tell you that I have changed? Believe me, I didn’t expect to change, and I never planned to. I don’t know when I changed, but I really have!
•George: In spite of my problems, I want to know; were you happier before or are you happier now?
•Tom: I can answer the question that you mailed me before about the pleasure of the body and soul; I used to obtain physical pleasure by making my soul miserable, and so my body became miserable as well!
•George: And now?
•Tom: I haven’t reach happiness, but at least I am not as miserable as before.
•George: If you were in my shoes, would you prefer life or death?
•Tom: Life, without any doubt. But maybe if you had asked me that question earlier, I would have said death. The misery of death ends the misery of life.
•George: Do you remember when I met the old man on my way to commit suicide, he was very happy, and enjoyed playing with his grandson very much. I wish I had taken down his address.
•Tom: For now I think that you should sign the consent, the doctors know more than we do. But I suggest that you consult Katrina first.
•George: I think so too, though I have to make some arrangements, as the percentage of failure of the surgery is 40%.
•Tom: Be optimistic, everything will be just fine, but it is okay to be ready for everything. You will recover and reach happiness, but don’t forget to take me with you. I’ll leave you now to give you time to think. I’ll come back tomorrow to make sure you are fine, excuse me.
George lay back and thought deeply about the meaning of death, whether he might stand up to the death that his daughter Mary had confronted in front of him, and what is the meaning of death, anyhow? Moreover, what is the meaning of life? Is death a relief of the misery of life? Or is it the end of the happiness of life? If it is the first then death is most welcomed, and if it is the second that means he has reached happiness. Knowing that, he smiled sarcastically at his train of thoughts. He told himself: “It seems that I will die while I am just philosophizing, and reach nothing.”
His phone rang and interrupted his thoughts. Adam was on the phone.
•Adam: Hello George, I just wanted to make sure that you are fine, how are you?
•George: I am somewhere between life and death, I don’t know which is nearer?
•Adam: I don’t understand you, how is that?
•George: 60% life and 40% death or physical disability.
•Adam: I don’t understand what you mean, and if you are joking; I don’t like those kind of jokes.
•George: I wish I was joking but this is the truth. I’ve been advised to have surgery tomorrow with only a 60% chance of success.
•Adam: We have to praise God for everything.
•George: How much I wish I could see you today.
•Adam: It seems that it is impossible today as visiting hours are over. Why didn’t you call me earlier?
•George: I don’t know; can you pay me a visit tomorrow morning?
•Adam: Sure I’ll come, I would have come now if I could have, but be sure that only God knows how long anyone will live, and not the doctors, though they are an important precautionary measure.
•George: I don’t know, am I afraid of death, or don’t I care? All I know is that death is a gigantic fact that changes life completely.
•Tom: Don’t be afraid or panic; God is more merciful to us than we are to ourselves.
•George: Believe me, I don’t know if I’m afraid or disturbed, or what’s wrong with me? I feel that I have to rearrange my whole life again. Don’t you see how I have made fun of myself?
•Adam: What do you mean by making fun of yourself?
•George: Well, when I became afraid of death, I decided to rearrange my life. But the irony is that shouldn’t I have done that when I was starting life, not leaving it?
•Adam: You were seeking to rearrange your life before, and you should rearrange what’s left, though only God knows how much is actually left…but I like to be optimistic and I hate being pessimistic.
•George: I’m somewhat disturbed. Do you expect that I’ll die?
•Adam: God willing, you will live, and you’ll stay on this earth until you find that happiness that you are pursuing, only then will life on earth and life after death have a meaning.
•George: Good expression “Our life after death”, maybe I’ll discuss that with you tomorrow. Excuse me, I have to call Katrina and tell her what the doctor said.
•Adam: Oh yes of course, you have to consult your wife. I’m sorry for taking so much of your time. I’ll leave you in God’s care. Goodbye.
•George: I’m very grateful Adam. I’ll see you tomorrow morning, good bye.
After the call, Adam’s words echoed through George’s head, and he repeated them unconsciously: “Only God knows how long anyone will live, and not the doctors,” “God is more merciful to us than we are to ourselves,” “I like to be optimistic and I hate being hate pessimistic”, “When we are happy, life on earth and life after death will have a meaning.” George didn’t know why Adam’s simple yet deep words always shattered him from inside? Had the secret been in his words or in his honesty? Or was it a result of his disturbing condition which he could not come to terms with?
George stopped himself from thinking too hard as he had to call Katrina to tell her about the operation and ask for her advice on the matter. George picked up the phone and dialed Katrina:
•George: Hello Katrina, how are you? I miss you and I waited for you today.
•Katrina: Sorry darling, I was on my way but something came up.
•George: Oh, okay: I hope that everything is alright?
•Katrina: Actually, Sally had some homework and she asked for my help.
•George: Where are you now?
•Katrina: At home, what’s wrong George?
•George: I just wanted your advice about something: the doctor told me that I needed to have an operation tomorrow, if I approve.
•Katrina: Tomorrow!? But why so soon? And what operation?
•George: All the doctor said is that it’s better to have it tomorrow at 8:00 pm.
•Katrina: Oh honey! What are you saying? I’ll come to the hospital immediately to discuss things together.
•George: I think it’s better if you come tomorrow morning.
•Katrina: What kind of surgery?
•George: Brain surgery.
•Katrina: Brain surgery!! Is it critical?
•George: Maybe, what matters is that the doctor told me that I have to go through the operation, although there’s only a 60% chance that the operation will be successful. What do you think I should do?
•Katrina: I really don’t know, it’s such an important decision and I can’t advise you without having a proper discussion about all the facts and details, but what I can do is pray for you all night. I’ll come tomorrow early, and bring Sally and Michael along.
•George: See you tomorrow darling, good bye.
Katrina threw herself on the bed weeping. She couldn’t imagine her life without George. What if the operation failed? What if he had a physical disability? Then, she left her bed and started to pray for him.
As for George, he was busy thinking about Katrina and the kids, and their financial situation. He smiled when he remembered that he had renewed his life insurance policy, which meant that there would be a good sum of money for them. Furthermore, his contract at work also assured him a good amount of money, especially since he grew ill during a business trip, and he could prove that, though he had serious doubts that Kach would give him anything if he died, since Kach was the type who only thought about himself. Finally, while these thoughts were turning in his head, he fell asleep.
George woke up early. He had his breakfast feeling that his head was heavily laden with thoughts and questions that kept storming it. He decided that he would most probably have the operation, but he was overwhelmed with worry. He asked himself what he should do before the operation, and all the while Katrina and the kids never left his mind.
Just as the morning visiting hours began, he noticed Adam coming into the room with a friendly smile upon his face.
•Adam: Make me happy and tell me that you’re well today.
•George: I am fine. There’s nothing new, I’m waiting for the doctor. I expect that he’ll be here soon, although there is nothing in his hands that he can do.
•Adam: You’re right; the doctor has no power, in fact all human beings have no power.
•George: So, who controls everything then?
•Adam: Everything is in God’s hands.
•George: Who is your God Adam?
•Adam: My God is your God, and the God of everyone; let’s not talk about that now.
•George: So are you Protestant?!
•Adam: When you reach your goal in your efforts to find happiness, I’ll be with you.
•George: That is if I live after the operation.
•Adam: Be optimistic…optimistic. I hate pessimism.
•George: The worldly existence is built on pessimism; why do you refuse it?
•Adam: No! The worldly existence is built only on optimism, so let those fables go.
•George: Be honest with me, aren’t you superstitious of the number 13?
•Adam: Of course not. God is the only one that runs this world. By the way, Chinese people think of the number 13 as being good; because its phonetics is similar to a phrase that means: I must live. These are only fables, and are far away from God’s way.
•George: Seeing as you are Protestant, Adam, aren’t you scared of the date, especially if it is Friday the 13th? Do you know that the last secret meeting between Jesus and his disciples in Christian history, just before Judas betrayed him by revealing his whereabouts, was on Friday and there were thirteen men that attended?
•Adam: I don’t believe in fables, I came to make sure that you’re okay, not to discuss pessimism and optimism with you; and I would like to know and think that my friend is always optimistic.
•George: How do you want me to be optimistic while I only have a 60% chance?!
•Adam: God is merciful and generous, everything is in God’s hands; doctors can only do their job; if you’re hopeful you will be happier, and then you will lead a better life and the percentage of success of the surgery will increase. But if you’re negative your position will only worsen, and you’ll only get what God wants you to have, anyhow. What’s wrong with you George, you’re not being yourself today?
•George: I was only testing you, to see what you would say. I also hate fables, and I’ve learned from you how to love optimism… but tell me, how can a man in my position be optimistic?
Katrina burst through the doors with Michael and Sally, who rushed eagerly to George’s bed.
•Katrina: I hope you’ll be fine George, how are you now?
•Sally: Dad, how are you? We’ve been so worried about you!
•Michael: Dad, what happened to you?
Adam preferred to leave the room for the family to have some private time with their dad before the operation.
•Adam: Excuse me; I’ll go now and let you have some family time.
•Katrina: Oh, hello Adam… Sorry I didn’t greet you.
•George: No, no, please don’t leave; I want you to stay, unless you have something urgent to do.
•Adam: I’m not in a hurry, but I don’t want to cause any disturbance.
•Katrina: There’s no disturbance at all, we are happy that you are here.
George asked Michael and Sally to sit with him on the bed, and he asked them about school and home.
•The kids: We are fine Dad, when are you coming home?
•The kids: Mum said that you’ll come home in three days, and that soon after that we’ll travel to Rome.
•Katrina: I booked the tickets, and we’ll travel in ten days.
•George: You booked the tickets?! How?! I don’t think I can do it, my current health doesn’t allow me to travel.
•Katrina: Don’t worry darling, you’ll be fine.
•Katrina: What do you think, Adam?
•Adam: A blessed decision, God willingly you will be able to travel. And this is the answer to your question.
•George: What question?
•Adam: Didn’t you ask me how to be optimistic in such circumstances?
•George: Leaving everything in the hands of the Merciful and Generous God will make us feel relief in our lives.
Katrina held her tears back, and said:
•Katrina: I spent the whole night praying and crying for you, and then I came to the conclusion that my weeping won’t do anything, but my prayers might. I was a little bit late as I was booking the tickets. So what do you think, George?
•George: I’m so happy of what you did Katrina… so tell me, pretty Sally, are you enthusiastic about going to Rome?
•Sally: Very much Dad, I want to see Trevi fountain.
•George: And what is that?
•Sally: A big fountain that we studied in geography.
•Michael: I want to see Saint Angleo castle. It is the castle that was built for the ashes of the emperors, and then it became a museum, as I learnt in geography.
•Katrina: And I want to see Saint Peter’s Cathedral.
•George: Everything seems to be arranged… I hope all your dreams come true.
The kids shouted cheerfully and kissed their parents, and in the meanwhile Adam took a step aside and sat on a chair in the corner of the room to give the family some privacy as they continued their conversation, enthusiastically and happily, about travelling. Then Katrina said to the kids:
•Katrina: It is nine o’clock now, dears, and the driver is waiting for you outside.
The kids gave their father a kiss goodbye and they bid him farewell, and George said to them:
•George: Goodbye, dear children.
George turned to Adam, who was sitting by himself, and said:
•George: Sorry Adam… are you annoyed?
•Adam: Annoyed? Why?
•George: Because we are travelling to Rome, as you are a Protestant and not a Catholic.
•Adam: No, I’m not annoyed. In fact I urge you to travel to have the chance to learnt about Christianity and all its denominationa more deeply.
•George: You are such a strange person, Adam?!
•Adam: If we truly want to pursue happiness, then every effort and piece of information will make the path clearer, and we should be keen to gather any information. Didn’t I urge you to visit India and Jerusalem before? So what’s different now?
•George: But now is different as there has been revenge and fighting between the Catholics and us… Didn’t the Protestants kill millions of Catholics in the thirty-year war?
•Adam: No one likes killing in such a savage way, and why do you think I am Protestant? Maybe I am Catholic? I’ll tell you when you come back from Rome.
•George: It seems that you are Catholic; there are many similarities between you and Katrina… I’ll get to know more about Catholicism by reading in the coming days and during my trip, though my first impression about it is that it has strange paganistic views, and the thing that I don’t like about it is that its churches are full of pictures, just like idolatrous temples.
•Adam: And do you like Protestantism that kills people?!
•George: This makes me certain that you are Catholic.
•Adam: This is not what I mean. In your search for happiness, you must also search for the truth about any group. Only then will you find happiness, comfort, and tranquility.
Katrina came back to the room after seeing her kids off.
•Katrina: I apologize for being late. Michael and Sally asked for some juice and sandwiches before they left with the driver.
•George: I am very grateful to you Katrina for arranging this trip; you took away the fear of death that was overwhelming me.
•Katrina: When the soul of the human being is elevated, and reality has been revealed in front of him, and he knows that death is a part of reality, and that it is possible at any time, he no longer becomes a prisoner of life’s pleasures and attractions, and the aspects of the world are no longer the focus of his thinking and attention. The human being that is aware of his existence and destiny can easily recognize that he lives to die, and then dies to live forever.
•George: Great philosophy: we live to die, and die to live, but the problem is the pain of death.
•Katrina: Jesus bore pain for the sake of humans, pain is a main part of eternal salvation, and our tolerance of pain is evidence of our love for Jesus.
•George: Why do we have this worldly existence then?
•Katrina: It is only useful when it is used in the service of God – and only in the service of God.
•George: What do you think, Adam?
•Adam: About what?
•George: About that life should be completely devoted to God and for seeking His gratification.
•Adam: I totally agree with that, though I think that serving God isn’t only through praying.
With admiration, Katrina said:
•Katrina: Great words Adam. Unfortunately we many times forget – and even the priests too- that all our life is a form of worship, and all our lives must be devoted to God.
George smiled sarcastically and said:
•George:And the frequently repeated question remains: who really worships the Merciful God? And who worships an idol or imagery, and calls it God?
Adam said firmly:
•Adam: Perhaps this is the most critical question in history!
•Katrina: It seems that you are referring to the disagreement we have concerning God.
•George: What do you mean?
•Katrina: The Christians all agree that God is a trinity, and we agree that the first is the father, the second is the son, and the third is the Holy Spirit, the three together being one God, even if we disagree on the exact nature of the son and the Holy Spirit.
•George: This isn’t what I meant, and it didn’t even come to my mind. I try not to think about that point as I don’t understand how the three are one, and the one is three, and how all are equal in essence, different in nature, and still all of them are God?!
•Katrina: This is one of the most difficult issues in Christianity, and I suggest that we discuss it in Rome. It is controversial and we can’t discuss it here.
•George: Okay, although I don’t understand how we can spend our lives worshipping a God that we don’t clearly know, and in fact is difficult to understand? Sometimes I don’t see any difference between us and the idolaters!!
•Katrina: Believe me, I’m not avoiding the discussion. This is a general problem that all Christians face regardless of their denomination, that’s why I think we should rather discuss it in Rome.
Adam smiled and said:
Adam: I agree with Katrina, this issue is critical, and shouldn’t be dealt with quickly. No one who has any mind can continue in an idolatrous religion, and no truly divine religion is an idolatrous religion.
•George: Ha ha ha! So I agree with you, my Catholic friend. Although I believe that all Christians are pagan sometimes!
Katrina said with amazement:
•Katrina: Are you Catholic, Adam?
•Adam: Sometimes they call me Catholic, and other times Protestant.
•Katrina: Ha ha ha! Now I’m sure that you are Catholic…
The doctor entered the room while George was laughing… He approached George’s bed smiling, and said:
•Doctor: Hello! I was certain that I would find you happy, regardless of what I had told you.
•George: Welcome Doctor, but why were you so certain?
•Doctor: Any cultured religious man would’ve definitely surrendered to God.
•George: But who is God?
•Doctor: I told you before that you are a philosopher. I’m Christian and I avoid this question, as I don’t know the answer, though I have exerted a great amount of effort to try to find it; but I am certain of the existence of the Merciful and Capable God, and that’s enough for me.
•George: I, on the other hand, have never felt that this is enough. How can I worship something that I don’t know?
•Doctor: Now you are philosophizing! Listen: I need to know if you’ve signed the consent form yet?
•George: Not yet, but I’m ready to sign it now, aren’t I Katrina?
•Katrina: Is there anything that we could do to enhance the results of the surgery? Or should we go to a better place?
•Doctor: Perhaps, but you’re too late. There’s another hospital in Germany, but anyway it is impossible to go there now because the surgery must be done immediately. We’ve also contacted the other consultant in Germany and he told us about the matters that might enhance the results of the surgery. That’s all; I have nothing more to say.
•George: And what’s your advice, Doctor?
•Doctor: Sign the consent quickly, and we’ll start the investigations at 5:00 pm. The operation can be done today at 8:00pm.
•George: Who will perform the operation?
•Doctor: The head of the surgery, Dr. Steve Mic; he is a specialized consultant.
•George: You can give us the papers then and we’ll sign them? If there’s any other advice, please let us know now.
•Doctor: Nothing more, but I want you to remain happy until the operation, from my own non documented experience I can say that being optimistic and positive increases the chances of success of the surgery.
•George: Fine… perhaps you agree with Adam about optimism.
•Doctor: I think that all sane people would agree about that, including you.
•George: Katrina exceeded us all by booking the tickets and arranging a trip after the surgery.
•Doctor: Great! You only need one week after the surgery to recover and for follow up, then you can leave… though we advise you not to travel before ten days.
•Katrina: Thank God I booked the tickets after ten days; I think I planned it excellently.
•Doctor: Yes, what a good job. You know what, George, I congratulate you on your wife and your wonderful friends. The papers will be here soon, I’ll begin with the preparations for the operation, and I wish you a speedy recovery.
After the doctor left, George turned to Katrina and said:
•George: It seems that things are progressing towards having the operation. I never had enough time to properly arrange everything yet, and that is why I would like to arrange whatever I can of my personal affairs now.
•Katrina: Fine, but what do you mean?
•George: I wrote down everything I own in detail, so that nothing will be lost in case of my death. I wrote in my will that everything will be left only to you and the kids.
•Katrina: Don’t say that George… you’ll live and recover.
•Adam: Sorry for interrupting, regardless of my optimism and my certainty that you will recover, but writing your will is important, very important actually, because if you don’t, some of your money might be lost. Moreover, your wife might be deprived of some of her rights according to the rules of the church.
•George: I don’t understand you, how can you be religious and say this?
•Adam: What about your parents?
•George: I haven’t seen them for about ten years.
•Adam: Maybe this is not the proper time to say this, but that’s a big mistake - without any doubt.
•Katrina: I agree with you, and I’ve discussed this matter with him many times. How I wish that my parents were still alive.
•George: It seems that both of you agree against me today, I promise if I am fine after the surgery I’ll visit them before I travel… It seems that the surgery will be a turning point in my life.
•Adam: Actually, it would be better if you included them in your will.
•Katrina: Yes, God says: “Honor your father and mother.”
•George: Unfortunately I sometimes find the words of the Holy Book contradictory. For instance I read what you said, and I also read “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brothers, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.”
•Katrina: In Catholicism, when we find this contradiction we refer to the Pope to decide what’s right. But the Protestants exert much more effort on this matter.
•George: You’ve taken us back to the abhorrent papacy that prevents reason and is similar to paganism. Anyway we’ll discuss that later. What matters now is that we return to what we were saying about my parents, so I’ll include them in the will, according to your advice, and make you a witness.
•Adam: This is important, though I’m sure that you’ll be safe and sound.
•George: I also renewed my life insurance policy about a month ago; so this’ll be a guarantee for you after my death.
•Katrina: God is the only true Guarantor, this is just a measure that people take.
•George: And what about the house?
•Adam: It is very important to write everything you want to include in the will, but what is more important is that we’ll pray that God grants you health and a speedy recovery, I’m sure He will cure you. Then he smiled and said: Don’t forget to buy me a present from Rome.
Katrina began crying, so she wiped her tears that wouldn’t stop. Then she smiled because of Adam’s request, and said:
•Katrina: Yes, the most important thing now is to pray to God. By the way, what do you want from Rome, Adam?
•George: Ha ha ha! There’s nothing to get from Rome except Indian, and not Italian, aloes wood fragrance. I definitely won’t buy you any Catholic gifts from the Vatican.
•Adam: No thanks, I don’t want either of these. I want two things: the first is a very fancy leather bag, but it must be very cheap, and if it isn’t, then I don’t want it. The second is a big poster of Cannavaro, he is a legendary Italian football player.
•George: A very fancy and very cheap leather bag…I don’t think that’s possible… unless we find Motea Arrahman in Italy.
•Adam: The one who made Motea Arrahman available in India, will make you find another one in Italy.
•George: This is the first time I’ve noticed that you’re into sports.
•Adam: Cannavaro was nominated as the best player in the last world cup championship. Most athletes in Italy believe that he’ll be the successor of the legendary Franco Parisis. Generally I like playing sport rather than watching it, but this is what I want you to get for me from Rome.
•Katrina: If you want a cross from Rome I’ll buy one for you, if George doesn’t find want you wanted.
•George: You often agree together against me.
•Adam: Thank you. I was joking with my friend. Would you please excuse me?
During this, Tom entered and saw them smiling and laughing…
•Tom: It seems that you have some good news, George; I want to make sure you are fine.
•George: No news, but my friend Adam wants me to bring him a souvenir from Rome; a very fancy and cheap leather bag, so we were making fun of that.
•Tom: Rome? Will you go to Rome to have the surgery done there?
•George: Let me first introduce my friend, Adam. Adam this is my psychiatrist and friend, Tom. The surgery will be done today and I’ll travel in ten days to Rome with my beloved Katrina and the kids for a holiday, and I don’t know how to bring him a fancy cheap bag?
•Tom: You have a great optimistic spirit; did anything change regarding the operation?
•George: No, but my view to life has changed after what Katrina did, and after what I learnt from Adam.
•Tom: We really need to learn to be optimistic, most psychological problems can be solved by optimism, but sometimes it’s difficult to learn that.
•George: Take some time with Adam and he’ll teach you that, he’s very optimistic.
•Tom: Then, I’ll be delighted to be his student.
•George: Actually I get most of the words I use for philosophizing from Adam or Katrina… Do you remember when I told you that we should take things easy and without complications? I quoted this from Adam.
•Tom: Great! This very quote has changed my nature and way of thinking, as I have a tendency to be complex and my readings are in the same direction.
•Adam: George is complimenting me, I have learnt a lot from him. I’m only a waiter in a coffee shop, and he is my tutor.
Katrina smiled and said:
•Katrina: As long as we have started with the compliments; Tom really helped George to find the answers to his controversial questions.
Tom said with astonishment:
•Tom: Sorry, but I just wanted to make sure that you’re going to have the operation done today?
•George: It seems that you don’t believe me. Yes I’ll have the operation today. I think you still need a lesson in optimism. I’ve arranged all of my affairs; I only need to have half an hour alone to write down some notes. Life and death are in God’s hands.
•Tom: And when is the operation?
•George: The preparations are scheduled to begin at 5pm, and the surgery at 8pm.
Adam looked at his watch and said…
•Adam: Excuse me for now; I have to go to the coffee shop.
•George: Thanks a lot for your support Adam; you’re a good friend!
•Tom: Wait Adam, this is my card, I hope I can spend some time with you to get to know you better.
•George: It’s very important for you to meet each other. Adam, it seems that Tom has changed to be different from how I used to describe him before.
•Adam: I’m honored to meet you. I apologize, but I don’t have a card.
Adam took out a piece of paper and wrote down his name and telephone number, and gave the paper to Tom. Then he said good bye to everyone and left.
•George: Though I’ve only known Adam for a short time, he is one of my best friends.
•George: He’s a really good man. When I was in a coma Kach made fun of him because he is a waiter, but Adam didn’t reply to him, he only said that the value of a man lies in his character, and that he gets his value from inside himself, not from his work-place.
•Tom: Then it’s important for me to meet him again and get to know him better. And I’m glad that you believe I’ve changed, George.
George’s phone rang so he excused himself and answered it - It was Kach; his manager…
•Kach: Good, you seem fine now. I visited you when you were in a coma, and there was a strange waiter there. How are you now?
•George: I’m fine and the waiter is my friend. I won’t allow anyone to say anything bad about him.
•Kach: Ha ha ha! I have good news for you, the board of directors decided to give you a bonus because you managed to sort out the signing of two big contracts for the company in one month.
•George: Many thanks to you and to them. Perhaps I got a bonus as a means of bribery.
•Kach: Stop saying that! When will you come back to work? You didn’t ask for any days off.
•George: I don’t know, I’ll have surgery today, and then I’ll travel to Rome for a short holiday. When I come back I’ll ask for some days off, and decide whether to work with you again or not.
•Kach: You seem to be irritated or tired, you never talk like this.
•George: I’m sorry, I’ve changed my ethics, and I was a tool that was used to bribe Benjamin.
•Kach: You’re irritated because of the surgery; I’ll call you later, good bye.
•George: Good bye.
•Katrina: What’s wrong, darling?
•George: This Kach is the opposite picture of Adam; no morals, no ethics, and no principles.
•Katrina: Many people are like him in our societies due to too much materialism, atheism, and being away from religion.
•Tom: I believe that being away from God is the main problem facing mankind; it is one of the main reasons behind worries, feeling alienated, and disasters.
•George: I understand that Katrina might say that, but it is weird to hear that from you, Tom!!
•Tom: Ha ha ha! Didn’t you say that you were convinced that I had changed? Another consideration is that all scientific studies have proven the fact I just mentioned, but in reality the main problem lies with the priests.
•George: You mean the Catholic Papacy?
•Tom: I know what you are implying, but I only came to make sure that you are fine. We can discuss this another time. Excuse me for now; I’ll visit you again tomorrow.
•George: Thank you, Tom. I’m glad that you came.
Katrina turned to George after Tom had left and said:
•Katrina: Tom has really changed dramatically!!
•George: Yes, religion changes everything in man.
•Katrina: And it seems that you also have changed, George.
•Katrina: I have to go home to tend to the kids for a bit, but after that I’ll do nothing but pray for you. I’ll come back at 5 o’clock.
•George: Okay dear, but it’s very important I see you at 5, to finish all the papers and give them to you.
George was absorbed in writing his will, and listing all his possessions. He finished within an hour; then he decided to send e-mails to all his friends to ask them to pray for him and tell them about the surgery. He wanted the prayers to be from those of all religions and sects, in the hope that the correct one will be answered. He sent e-mails to his friends, especially to Habib the Catholic, and Levvi the Jew. He noticed that he didn’t have any Muslim friends, then he remembered Mote Arrahman and he sent him a message. India reminded him of Jostya; his Buddhist friend, but he told himself: “Buddhists are idolatrous, they create their own gods, I don’t think it’ll be useful to ask her to pray. How I hate paganism!” Then he turned off his computer.
His phone rang, it was a strange number, but he answered…
•Speaker: Hello George, how are you?
•George: Hello! Who is it?
•Speaker: It seems that you’ve forgotten me; I’m Levvi from Tel Aviv.
•George: Hello Levi, how could I ever forget you? You were so good to me and I learned so much from you? I miss you Levvi. Sorry that I didn’t recognize your voice; I didn’t expect your call.
•Levvi: Tell me about the surgery, I’m very worried about you.
•George: Thanks for caring, it means a lot. I’m scheduled for surgery today, I’m very optimistic that I’ll be fine; I just sent e-mails to all my friends for them to pray for me.
•Levvi: I’ll pray for you, but unfortunately I’ll pray a Jewish prayer.
•George: Why do you say unfortunately?
•Levvi: I have been reading about religions, ideas and sects since your last visit, in order to reach the path to happiness, and I was waiting, and am still waiting, for you to show me the way.
•George: I think you’re exaggerating a bit … I was the one who learned from you, and in particular you; to be honest with myself… by the way, how is our friend Habib?
•Levi: He’s here beside me; he wants to talk to you.
•George: Ha ha ha! Is he guarding you even on the phone?! Habib is a great man, Levvi, try to keep your friendship strong, friends are very important.
•Levi: Ha ha ha! I have some news that Habib might want to tell you… what matters is that we’ll both pray for you. I wish you a speedy recovery. I hope you will call us after the operation to let us know how it went. Here, Habib wants to talk to you.
•Habib: Hello George, the bodyguard is talking, how are you?
•George: I’ll have surgery today, but I’ll be fine. How are you, Habib? I miss you.
•Habib: We’re fine thanks, we miss you too. Your visit triggered many discussions…
•George: You’re being humble, Doctor, I learnt from you. And your words about Christian sects are still echoing in my head. By the way, I’ll visit Rome and the Vatican next week, to make sure of what you said.
•Habib: Great, keep your quest for happiness, you promised to keep us in informed.
•George: Of course I’ll tell you about the path to happiness, that’s what I promised Levvi.
•Habib: I have something special to tell you that’ll make you happy: Levi and I are getting married.
•George: Wow, congratulations, my friend. Is it going to be a Catholic or a Jewish marriage?
•Habib: Ha ha ha! We’ll get married in a few months, but there seems to be some obstacles. But we’ll do whatever is necessary to get to our path that leads to happiness, whether Jewish, Catholic, or Protestant.
•George: We pray to you, O God, to help us find the way to You.
•Habib: God bless you my friend. We’re waiting for good news about your health and your path to happiness. Good bye.
George was immersed in his thoughts when he heard the nurse saying:
•We’ll have to go to do the investigations now.
George looked at his watch and saw that it was 5pm sharp. The nurse wheeled him down to the investigation room where he was subjected to some inspections and tests, and then he returned back to his room. When he looked at his watch again it was 6:30pm, but Katrina hadn’t arrived yet. He called her and she told him that she had just put her foot in the door of the hospital. A few minutes later Katrina entered the room in a rush and apologized that she was late because there was a problem with her car and she had to take the bus instead.
•George: I was worried about you and was wondering why you were late.
•Katrina: Sorry honey, but I was afraid that the car would breakdown completely, and that’s why I took the bus.
•George: Here, take this envelope please, you’ll find all the papers and documents you’ll need if something bad happens to me, God forbid.
•Katrina: You’ll be just fine, God willing.
•George: And there’s something that I didn’t write down.
•Katrina: And what’s that?
•George: I want you to keep searching for happiness, for you and the kids.
•Katrina: You will do this yourself, and you will achieve what you are searching for. God will never leave you. You’re a man with morals and principles.
•George: Wipe your tears now, dear, and swear to me that you’ll keep your promise to me.
•Katrina: I promise to walk on the path to happiness with you, God willing, and we’ll start our path in Rome together.
•George: I love you, Katrina.
He went to her to give her a big hug, and she started to weep.
•Katrina: I love you too, George, very much!
•George: Be optimistic, as you usually are. Did you book the room in the hotel in Rome?
•Katrina: Yes, I did.
The nurse came back to take George to complete the rest of his tests and begin the surgery. George took Katrina’s hands and he asked her to go home and pray for him…
•George: Go home, sweetie, I’ll be under anesthesia in a while and the surgery will take three hours. There’s no need for you to stay, I’ll be fine.
•Katrina: Oh George, don’t say that. I love you, we’ll go to Rome together and we’ll find happiness.
•The nurse: You can go, madam, we’ll call you when the operation is done; we have your phone number.
•Katrina: May God protect you George and bless your life.
George went to the operating theatre. His heart ached with fear for Katrina and the kids, but he wasn’t afraid about himself. He kept thinking about how selfish the world would be if everyone only thought of themselves. He said to himself: “It is going to be unbearable, but thinking about others and their sorrow and pain makes it easier to bear one’s own pain… This is how life is; if someone spends his entire life making others happy, he’ll eventually be happy, and the one who lives only for himself will definitely lose the way.” The doctor interrupted his thoughts and said:
•Doctor: I want you to be assured as your primary investigations showed good results, everything will be just fine.
The operation took four hours and it finally finished at midnight. Katrina kept anxiously calling the hospital every hour; she was waiting restlessly until the doctor finally called and told her that the operation had finished and everything was alright. He told her that the results of the operation would be apparent within the next twelve hours, and that George wouldn’t wake up before then…
•Doctor: Be rest assured, madam, and tell the others who keep calling that everything is fine, as we have kept receiving phone calls since the operation started.
•Katrina: Okay, but who called?
•Doctor: Mr. Adam and Dr. Tom. If you know them, please call them.
•Katrina: Okay, I’ll call them and tell them to pray for George.
At about 12 pm the next day… George started to wake up. He started to move his hands in an unusual manner, and he said some words… Katrina, Adam and Tom were all sitting beside him waiting for him to wake up, but they only understood a few words of what he said: “The path to happiness, why were we created?… life…death…”
The doctor came to examine George; Katrina stood up quickly and the doctor smiled at her…
•Doctor: I can understand that you’re so worried, madam… but I want to assure you that all the tests showed good results and we expect him to wake up after a short while.
•Katrina: But he says words that are not understandable.
•Doctor: Don’t worry, he’s still under anesthesia and this is normal. If he can talk clearly after the effects of the anesthesia wear off, that’ll be the first sign that the operation was successful. Tomorrow we’ll start to take him off the medical equipment, and if he can move, and then stand up, this will be proof that the operation was 100% successful. When he wakes up, we’ll give him painkillers every three hours, and he’ll recover and be fine, be assured.
•Katrina: Thank you, God will protect him
•Doctor: By the way, before the operation he kept on saying: “The path to happiness,” What did he mean by the path to happiness?
•Katrina: It’s a path that he is searching for, and he was completely devoted to finding that path.
•Doctor: He’s one of the happiest patients in the hospital, why is he searching for happiness?
•Katrina: He wasn’t happy until he started his quest to find that path.
•Doctor: He’ll find it after he recovers. Excuse me for now.
When the doctor left, Tom turned to George, who was still sedated and attacked to the medical equipment, and he said in sorrow:
•Tom: You’ll definitely find the path to happiness, George, and I’ll find it with you. I’ve tried the path of misery, the path of atheism, and I only gained sorrow and grief. But I’m not convinced about any religion yet, though I’m sure that the Merciful and All-powerful God Who created us is going to lead us to the right way.
•Adam: I’m sure that you’ll find it, Tom.
•Tom: How can I ever find it, Adam?
•Adam: I’ll repeat what you said; that the Merciful and All-powerful God won’t make the ones who want to know and find Him drift away. That’s why I’m sure that you, George and I will eventually find what we’re looking for.
•Tom: Are you searching for the path to happiness too?
George started to open his eyes. Katrina noticed, so she approached the bed and said:
•Katrina: George, honey, can you hear me?
•Katrina: Thank God that you’re fine, we were worried about you. Adam and Tom are here to make sure that you’re fine.
•George: Thank you.
•Adam: I hope you have a speedy recovery, George.
•Tom: I also hope that you have a speedy recovery my friend. The doctor told us that the operation was successful.
•Katrina: Do you need anything, darling?
•Adam: I think that we should go and leave him to wake up quietly and slowly.
•Tom: Fine… I also think that Adam and I should go and leave you here beside him.
•Katrina: Thank you so much. He’ll call you today himself to make you feel at rest.
•Tom: Do you have a car, Adam, or would you like a lift?
•Adam: I don’t have a car, but I don’t want to bother you; I’ll take the bus or some public transportation.
•Tom: No, don’t be silly. Catch a lift with me; I want to talk to you anyway. Good bye Katrina.
•Katrina: Good bye gentlemen.
Within half an hour after Tom and Adam had left, George opened his eyes again to find Katrina sitting beside him, although her thoughts weren’t…
•Katrina: George, my darling, how are you now?
•George: I’m okay, just a little groggy from the anesthesia; I imagined that I saw Tom and Adam though!
•Katrina: No, they were here; they left a little while ago after the doctor assured them that you’d be fine. They have been here since early this morning… How’re you feeling, honey?
•George: What’s the time now? I feel some pain in my skull.
•Katrina: It’s around 1 pm; don’t make yourself tired, I’ll call the doctor.
The doctor came immediately after the nurse had called him, and said:
•Doctor: You look fine, George.
•George: But I have severe pain in my skull.
•Doctor: Don’t worry; we’ll give you some more painkillers. This is normal of course because we opened your skull, but everything seems to be normal and looking good.
•Katrina: He started to talk clearly but slowly.
•Doctor: These are good signs that the operation has been successful. Be rest assured, George.
•George: Thank you.
The doctor gave George an analgesic shot and then he turned to Katrina and advised her to go home, saying that George was going to sleep for two hours at least…
•Katrina: No, Doctor, I’d rather wait here beside him.
•Doctor: It’s up to you, but after he wakes up we’ll give him another shot that’ll make him sleep for another two hours, or even more.
•George: Go home, sweetie.
•Katrina: Okay, George, if you insist. But I’ll pray for you all day long.
George woke up at 7:30 am. He talked to the nurse normally and clearly, but he was still being feed from a drip, as he couldn’t have normal food yet.
He called Katrina and told her that he was fine, and she asked him to call Adam and Tom, so he called them. Then he called Levi and Habib…Then once again he surrendered to his thoughts about the path to happiness and his voyage to Rome.