‘Mamma,’ said Soniya, ‘why does Dadi say that children who tell lies will burn in hell? Where is hell? She says those who listen to their parents will go to heaven. Where is heaven? Is it in the sky? Dadi says hell is in the pit of the earth and it is always burning!
Her mother smiled and hugged her as they lay on the bed. ‘Darling, heaven and hell are not in the sky or the pit of the earth. They are in our hearts.’
Soniya sat up. ‘ In our hearts? How?’ Dadi says Papa went to heaven when he died fighting in the war. So how did he go to heaven?’
Her mother embraced her and said, ‘Papa died doing the right thing. He knew he was doing his duty and defending his country’s honour. His heart was happy because when you do the right thing, you feel happy. Heaven or hell are not places. They are the feelings we get when we do something right or wrong. When you tell a lie, your heart is not happy and you feel bad. That is hell. You keep feeling scared of what will happen next. You cannot enjoy anything because your heart doesn’t forget the lie. You keep thinking of bad things. When you tell the truth, your heart is happy and you don’t have to worry about anything.That’s heaven.’
‘Ah, now I understand. Heaven is the good feeling. Hell is the bad feeling,’ said Soniya.
‘Yes darling. Do the right thing. Tell the truth and you will have heaven in your heart always,’ said her mother.