Saturday, June 6, 2009

Drinking with Yommaban

Drinking with Yommaban, the King of the Dead

There was a man who loved to drink whiskey. It was his habit to drink whiskey every day until he became drunk. When he was really drunk, he did not know what was going on around him. He wasn't even aware of the mosquitoes swarming around to bite him. And he wasn't aware that those poor mosquitoes became drunk themselves just from drinking his alcohol-laden blood!

This man had a wife and several children. There was only one thing that he really wanted in this life. He kept saying, "Before I die, I want to see my son ordained as a monk." Nothing else seemed to matter to this man, except for his whiskey. He even told his wife, "When I die, don't bother to do merit for me. I wouldn't even care. Just remember to put a bottle of whiskey in the coffin with me. That is important."

The time arrived when his son came of age. He could now become an ordained monk. The man was glad that this happy day was finally at hand. He told his wife to prepare for his son's ordination. But before the ceremony could occur, this drunken man died. His wife grieved, but as he had wished, she dutifully laid one bottle of whiskey in the coffin with his corpse.

As his spirit lifted from his body, the dead drunkard snatched the bottle of whiskey from the coffin and carried it with him on his way to hell. Yommaban, the King of the Dead, greeted the new arrival. "During your life have you done many good deeds? Have you gained any merits?" The man shook his head. "No, Sir. I never bothered myself with making merits. I just spent my time drinking whiskey." He opened the bottle and took a big drink, right in front of the King of the Dead.

The smell of that whiskey tickled the nose of the King of the Dead. He was curious. "What is it about this whiskey that makes you want to drink it all the time? Does it taste so good?" The drunkard nodded. He poured some for Yommaban. "If you do not believe my words, sample some yourself. Whiskey is man's best friend. Whiskey is always faithful to man. The more you drink, the more drunk you become. The less you drink, the less drunk you are. If you do not drink, you do not have to urinate as often. If you drink a lot, be prepared to relieve yourself. Whiskey can be depended on."

The King of the Dead was curious. He wanted to see whether this man told the truth. Yommaban, King of the Dead, sat down and took a drink of the whiskey. It tasted bad, but still there was something about it. Yommaban drank some more. There they sat, the King of the Dead and this drunkard, talking and drinking until the bottle was empty.

Suddenly the man remembered his past and started to cry. Yommaban was confused. "Now, what? You just finished drinking your whiskey. Why do you cry?" "I am thinking of my son," said the man. "I will not be able to attend his ordination ceremony. I wanted to see my son enter the monkhood. Everything is already prepared. If only I could see my son become a monk, I would not feel sorry to die." Yommaban was pleased to learn that the man told the truth and that he still believed in religion, even though he had not bothered to acquire merit in his life. Yommaban pulled out his record book and checked the drunkard's status. He found that this man was only 40 years old. Well, he could spare him a bit more time on earth. What would that hurt? Yommaban spoke to his drinking partner. "I hate to see you cry like this. I feel sorry for you. Look, why don't I send you back to earth for one more year, so you can see your son ordained into the monkhood. I will send somebody to pick you up and bring you back down here afterward. You are 40 now. Here, I will just add a "I" to your score. What is one more year between friends, eh? By the way, you might bring along another bottle of whiskey when you come back down." Yommaban drunkenly scratched a "I" in his record book and slammed it shut. Calling one of his assistants, he had the drunkard escorted back to earth.

The man recovered from his death. He told his wife all about his agreement with Yommaban. Then he prepared everything for his son's ordination. Once the son was ordained into the monk-hood, the man relaxed. Now he had only to settle back with his whiskey bottle and wait for Yommaban to send for him again.

As the year drew to an end, the man began to drink more whiskey than ever. But the anniversary of his death passed and Yommaban did not send for him. A second year passed. Still, the man lived on. Ten, 20, 30, 40 years passed. The man was becoming very old. He felt miserable all of the time. He didn't even feel like drinking any more. "Why doesn't Yommaban come for me?" he wondered. "Am I to go on existing in this state of miserable old age forever?"

Meanwhile, Yommaban, himself, was puzzled. It seemed much longer than a year since that drunkard with the whiskey bottle had visited. Why hadn't he returned? Yommaban pulled out his record book and turned to the man's name. "Well now I understand about this drinking business," he said. "No wonder whiskey is said to be bad for you. It must really fog your mind. I,Yommaban, who have never made a mistake before, actually made a mistake!" There in the record book was the man's original death age, clearly written "40." And beside it was scrawled a "1'', the "1" that a drunken Yommaban had added. The man's age of death now read "401.''

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