My Thoughts

Invertland

Invertland

Sci Fi story published in Science Reporter

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. For every plus there is a minus. For every happiness, there is an attending sorrow. For every word there’s the antonym. And for this world we live in there is the…

He stared at the words he had jotted in the old scrapbook of his and scratched his beard. He had written them 25 years ago. When he was young, wore fresh suits and took bath every day. It was the one lasting thought that was to become his obsession and destiny.

 *       *       *

“The next planet in this galaxy is just 2 lightyears away,” Morat said. He was the only inhabitant of Oasis, an outpost on the edge of their Universe.

“You don’t feel lonely here?” He asked.

“Initially yes. Not any more. The contentment of having my dream fulfilled helped me overcome it. Besides, in a very real sense, aren’t we all lonely.”

Yes. Living was all about achieving dreams. Even when they looked impossible. In the chase lay the ultimate happiness of all the intelligent and the living. And that would be his fuel too. To keep plodding optimistically and keep alive his dreams, his hopes.

“How long have you been here?”

“Oh, for some 15 years now.”

Like several space explorers before him, and to different planets in different galaxies, Morat had found a habitable planet, touched down and anchored with a few earth people.

Space had become an outland with many generations of earthlings dotting it, and interacting with mostly amiable and sometimes hostile species. And because they had unlimited resources and scarce populations to contend with, they faced a definite degree of loneliness which was the reason they greeted travellers from earth with warmth and cheer. It might change some day, when these planets too became densely populated but that day was still far-off. These explorers and their breed enjoyed a separate sovereignty and status. They were essentially earthlings but had rights to a different planet that wasn’t Earth. Trust between Earth and Oasis, as of now, was bilateral. There would be treaties and documents when the population reached a particular threshold. Till then there was no use of paperwork.

“All right then. It’s time to try my luck again,” he said.

Morat jerked his thumb. “You sure this old lady can take it?”

Morat was obviously referring to his spaceship.

“It’s been like this for many years now. And even if it doesn’t, what have I to lose?” He grinned.

“I understand,” Morat said.  “The very thought I had, when I started off to space. And look, it paid off.”

“I can see that. You realized your dreams. I’ve yet to.”

“But get this antique serviced as soon as you can. Don’t push it too hard.”

“I will.”

His spaceship too had lost its sheen, just like him, and appeared battered and beaten. And like him it still had many light-years in it to travel, many more light-miles to go before it drifted into the dark woods of space oblivion or antimatter.

“You don’t look like a Titanium hunter to me.”

“No?” He smiled.  “Looks can be deceptive!”

He got into his spaceship and took off.

*       *       *

Space-borne and into a cruise mode, he looked at his reflection in the broken mirror of his cockpit. Heavily lined face, unkempt beard and greasy hair. Yes, looks can be deceptive!

“They don’t reflect inner cravings and compulsions, buddy. Don’t let it fool you,” he said aloud, to his invisible companion.

It’s funny the way success or failure makes or breaks a person. Failure crushes the zany confidence you begin with and success, it nourishes and makes you brash and confident.

But who decides success or failure? The explorer or that referee with the stopwatch? Depends on the perspective.

“Admit it, Drake. Admit that you’re a loser!” His self-doubt once again found a voice. “Winning is absolute. Don’t fool yourself with perspectives.”

“No, I’m not!” He shouted. “And shut up. You can’t break my spirit. An Explorator is always just moments away from finding his biggest find. And the hope is what keeps me going.”

Yes, hope was the only thing that kept explorators going. Despite the loneliness they faced and the doubts that haunted them. And the failures that chased them, the premature deaths that followed them.

For every word there’s the antonym. And for this world? The world we live in, there’s the…

“Invertland!” He shouted.

For far too long had he suppressed the word with his silence. And now, he just screamed the word, to quell the self-doubt. There was no room for it, not in the cockpit, nor in his life!

“I will find my Invertland.”

 *       *       *

 As a teenager, when he was first introduced to science, the complex laws that explained gravity, potential energy, kinetic energy, every naturally occurring phenomenon awed him. How had the scientists found the means to explain how planets moved from earth and without travelling to space? How did they discover the laws that governed life?

But as he matured, this awe was replaced by a healthy cynicism. These laws explained what was already happening, after it had happened. Supposing the very phenomena they were trying to explain had happened the opposite way?

 *       *       *

“What do you mean?” Dora had asked the first time he shared his doubts with anyone. He overcome the fear of being ridiculed. The bottled up doubts finally erupted.

He could see the day clearly in his memory, as if it was happening right now. It was one of those days with a special significance, etched deeply in the mind. He remembered the intensity of the sunlight on that pleasant October morning, the fluorescent green colour of grass blades, the fabric of the clothes she wore, her hair and her perfume. She was a buddy. A little dumb, very beautiful but a constant in his life.

“I mean what if the apple had gone up, instead of falling down. What if water had rushed from a lower height to a higher one? What if the planets had moved in rectangular directions? What if earth had spun across 2 axes, six months across one and six months across another?”

“It’s not happening, so there is no question of what if.”

“We didn’t create those patterns, nature did and as far as I see, for no reason. And suppose it had happened the other way round?”

“Then?”

“We would have different laws to explain them. Different Galileos and Newtons.”

“You mean all science is pure after explanation. But what about Maths? It’s fundamentally correct.”

“1+1 is infinity in a fission reaction. 2 divided by 2 is zero for a matter that cannot be divided. 3 apples of different sizes added with 2 apples of different sizes, don’t make 5, like currency notes would. These are some of the errors in mathematics I can see immediately. There will be many, if I give it some more thought.”

“Give it. It can be an exciting topic for research we can do together. ”

“And get that lousy doctorate you are so keen to get? Get a life Dora! I don’t have a dispute with what is going on in the Maths universe. I am curious to find my Invertland.”

“Invertland?”

“A place opposite of here. This earth.”

“Are you serious?” She looked at him incredulously.

“Yes I am.”

*       *       *

 

When his father died he didn’t feel the loss – he had lived his purpose and now, the time had come for him to seek his only purpose in life. He felt excited by the money that came to him. He now owned billions of dollars of his father’s empire of wealth and achievement and with it he could carry out his mission – of finding Invertland.

 *       *       *

He bought the spaceship without telling Dora. He wanted to surprise her.

“Will you be my wife?” He asked her as they sat on the spaceship on that moonlit night, when they met. He played with the controls, half tempted to take it off for her sake. He thought of the exciting life they were about to embark on – among the stars and all those planets, waiting for them!

“Together we will roam galaxies and find this place, our Invertland,” he said.

“What if there’s no such place?”

He had turned to face her, sharply. She had awoken him rudely from the dream he had been dreaming.

“It exists beyond doubt.”

“Let me rephrase it. What if we are not able to find it?”

“What if we don’t find a meaning of living life here on this earth?”

“That’s not an answer. It’s a counter question.”

“But it’s also an answer. You are obviously asking what my life will amount to, without the discovery. But what will it amount to when I die here, managing my father’s empire and count his paper money?”

“Everyone is living here just like that. What you intend to do is different.”

“So different that it scares you?”

“Yes.”

“So what do you want to do? What everyone is doing or what I’m doing?”

And that had brought about the turning point in their relationship.

“I have the ordinariness to live like them but not the courage to live like you,” Dora said in her characteristic softness.

Ironically, her resolve was as hard as granite and as unchangeable.

So they parted. He comfortable in his world of exploration and she in the safety of her academics.

 

*       *       *

He snapped out of his reverie. Long hours, loneliness and despair could take their toll on anyone’s physical reserves. But not his optimism.

15 days! Many lightmiles, hopes and expectations. That was what had ticked away, when he approached the planet after his take-off from Oasis. But a strange thing happened. It took him a huge acceleration to go down, after some time and when he shut off his engine, his craft began to take off! And stopped a few feet above the ground, just as a magnet suspended in air over another.

Whatever was happening to him, thrilled him.

He got down but instead of going down he went 2 feet up. And he floated in air, by wading through air on that planet.

*       *       *

 For a long-time he saw nothing. Then he saw a river that flowed from the surface to the mountain!

His heart was beating uncontrollably by now. Was this his Invertland?

Where would the water go after reaching the source? He wondered, looking at the invertriver. Rather than follow the thought, he wanted to explore more things on this strange planet. He went closer to the river and looked at its surface. And saw a reflection of a woman! Her face reflected a strange glow that made her unusually beautiful. Her hair were spread in the air like a peacock’s plume.

Like him, she too was floating.

He turned to face her, instead of looking at the reflection.

“Who are you?” She said, without moving her lips – she was communicating through her thoughts.

“From earth. I came to search my Invertland and I have finally found it here.

“Inverland?”

He explained it to her.

She smiled.

“I don’t think this is invert, but Straightland!”

“Depends on your point of reference,” he laughed.

“Yes.”

It was instant bonding, instant liking. He felt at home in her company. As if they had resumed a relationship, after a time leap that didn’t matter.

“What’s your age?” He asked the undiplomatic question.

“100 years.”

“100?” He was shocked.

“We have long lives.”

“How long?”

*       *       *

She took him to her house and gave him water that came from a tap, but upside down.

A teenager came out and greeted him.

“Meet my father,” she told him.

“Father?”

“Yes. Oh! You wouldn’t understand that, would you. As we age we get younger and younger.”

“Then?”

”Become an infant, then a cell, and then disappear.”

“And how are you born?”

“No one knows. One minute we are not there and the next minute we are.”

“With no memory?”

“No memory.”

 *       *       *

 He explored all those possibilities he had thought would exist and discovered them gradually with Era by his side. Even in Invertland there were schools and books and maths and physics that explained all that was happening in their part of the planet where most or everything happened opposite to that of earth!

 *       *       *

And they fell in love and married, in the traditions of the Invertland. For him it was Invertland and for her it was Astralodee, that’s what they called their planet.

On the night of their wedding looking at the srats (that’s what he called his invert of stars!) and the Noom. He felt the happy high of achieving his dream. Was that how other explorers felt? All that desperation, hopelessness and doubt that had chased him, no longer mattered. He felt absolved.

 *       *       *

Years passed by and people commented on their lack of progeny but he was not worried. To him Invertland was all that mattered. The find was his child!

*       *       *

“You are ageing,” she said one day. “Getting younger.”

“You mean older. And you are getting young.”

“You mean older.”

And they laughed.

“Maybe that is why no child is born to us.”

“Yes perhaps our mating neutralizes time.”

“But I won’t give up hope.”

“You want a child?” He asked.

“Your child. I love you.”

“I love you too.”

 *       *       *

And then one day Dora walked into their world.

He stared at her, startled, his mouth agape.

“She’s our daughter!” Era said with pride.

“Dora!” He cried out aloud. But Dora looked at him without recognition.

“That’s a beautiful name. We’ll call her Dora,” Era said.

*       *       *

He was confused. No one knew where people’s consciousness went after they died on earth. No one knew where people came from, in Invertland. So was there a connection between the two worlds? Or the universe for that matter?

Was he looking at a cycle of life? And if yes, how many more cycles were there?

*       *       *

15 years later, Era became a teenager and he an old man. There was nothing he had in common with her and he realized the truth in the warnings of the elders, whom they had not heeded when they married.

“You are incompatible, but obviously hopelessly in love!” Her father had remarked then. “So travel along, as far as you can. But there will be a time when you will be companions no more.”

Yet he was grateful to Era. For the time they had spent together and when their company mattered to each other.

Now, she went out to play with grown up people – kids to him. And they had nothing in common. Dora, very similar to the Dora he knew, had her own life and academics to worry about. Maths was still her favourite subject. And he felt the loneliness he had felt in the cockpit of his spaceship. It renewed in him, the urge to explore.

He tried to live with them, for the sake of old times but then how long could anyone live in memories, when the present was, an ugly distortion. The love he had for Era became a mockery as Era came in and went out of their home resenting the age gap that separated at them. Dora’s indifference too increased.

*       *       *

So one day, he simply walked off to the far end of Invertland, where he had dumped his spaceship. It was dusty and most of its rubber parts were damaged.

Patiently, he began spending time on it, labouring over it and repairing it. The spaceship became his new obsession and making it space-worthy, his new dream.

*       *       *

At home, no one bothered from where he came and to where he went. So to save his time and spare them the bother, he began to sleep, eat and stay in his spaceship.

*       *       *

2 years later, when he pulled the controls, the spaceship purred. And he flew off!  He left without a note or even a goodbye because their indifference would have stained the image of those beautiful times he shared with them. He preferred to exit from their lives without taking with him, their indifference.

It didn’t take long for him to reach earth because he had the co-ordinates stored. But on entry, the ship caught fire and he escaped by landing into the ocean, unscathed.

*       *       *

When he opened his eyes, he was in a hospital.

“You will be all right!” The nurse told him.

When he was better, he recounted to her, his journey. She was kind but he could see she didn’t believe him. Outside it was much worse. People laughed at him. No one believed him.

*       *       *

He approached the scientific journals, magazines and even newspapers but no one was ready to publish his exploration of space. He showed a few photos and films he had with him but every shot was explained by hotshot photographers and dismissed as doctored.

His blog was a hit though and his book. It sold six million copies and continued to sell on earth and other galaxies, but as fiction.

*       *       *

Then one day, as he passed a bookshop. He saw his book on the shelves and stopped. His book made him sad, of what it could have been and what it had turned out to be. Science Fiction! It was then he spotted the fairy tales section. Curious, he inched closer and rummaged through the titles. He browsed through Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland and others.

Then, a sudden insight hit him like a thunderbolt!

He smiled and understood.

He had other journeys to explore.

The land of Peter Pan, Wonderland and more.

He had to discover other lands that explorers had found, which no one believed in and dismissed them as fiction! But these places surely existed, like his Invertland, dismissed as fiction.

“No use trying to convince disbelievers. No use at all. Better do something you believe in.” He said aloud and then was startled at his outburst.

The person browsing the books next to him looked quizzically at him and he felt embarrassed at being caught talking to himself.

“Pardon me,” he said and walked away from the baffled man.

*       *       *

Next day he withdrew more money from his father’s bank account. The accruing interest had made him richer than before. And this time he bought a bigger and more powerful spaceship.

10 earth-days later, he was space-borne! Back on a job he adored.

Another adventure, another world awaited him. And he would find all those places in those fairy tales one day.

Just like he had found Invertland.

*       *       *

 

Life is a Game, Play it!

Life is a Game, Play it!

Sci Fi story published in Science Reporter

I have never been this happy in my life.  Doing things I always wanted to. There was a time in a past when the going was not this good.  I even forget how far this was in the past and what had it been that had bothered me. Then, I used to drive cars down below, on those crowded, jam-packed roads where it was difficult to even breathe, leave alone travel.  Up in the sky it’s cool, very cool.  And I don’t drive a private jet, it’s a Sea Hawk I drive at sounds that boom and speeds that zoom.

Up in the sky, ‘the being with you spirit’ had helped me with another milestone; I connected to the state of happiness more easily and readily than ever.  Happiness had been eluding me since I don’t know when but there, up in the sky and in my Sea Hawk, I finally connected.  I could feel its intensity, and was drenched in it!  But then, you won’t understand that exhilarating feeling through words.  It has to be felt.

I have been flying for over three hours now.  No territory is beyond my reach, nothing I can’t come to within inches of feeling.  I can fly over deserts, perch atop a mountain, graze over the sea waves, dive deep into gullies and come up within inches of hitting the ground, then soar up in space.  To explore the outer limits of stratosphere.  This freedom, this speed and this access, I know only a few people have.  Danger excites me, new lands thrill me and I fly past the globe every evening like a wanderer.

It’s time to return and in the next half an hour I fly down the tarmac of the private airstrip I own.  My Sea Hawk lands softly, something that comes only with skill and taxies down to a halt.

I spot her in her sky blue dress, her golden hair blowing in the windswept strip.  She looks striking, the next most beautiful thing after my aircraft.  She is always there to receive me at the airstrip.  She accompanied me once, but my maneuvers overwhelmed her and she didn’t have the heart to climb the aircraft a second time!  She waited at the strip because she was anxious, for my safety and well-being.  Her extreme devotion touched me.

Today, she looked exceptional because of the evening light that fell on her face in a curious way.  The golden haze accentuated her features and her figure stood out.  I swallowed the lump in my throat.  I too loved her, just as she loved me.

She rushed to me and gave me a hug.

“Thanks for avoiding your last minute acrobats,” she smiled.

And we walked into the sunset, towards my waiting Ferrari.  I opened the door for her and got into the driver’s seat.  For once, I was not in a mood to zip but instead I cruised on the long empty road.  She put her favourite song on the disk which was also my favourite and we drove all night.

My passion of kissing the skies on my Sea Hawk and being with the woman I loved.  This sprinkled with the joys of racing my favourite Ferrari, feeling the essence of happiness that eluded most people and eating in the best of the restaurants filled my cup of joy.  I had all objects of desire and it was as if the world was at my feet!  What else could anyone want out of life?  What else?  Because there was nothing else to achieve beyond what I had!

I lost count of the years that went by.  Then George came along, my blue-eyed child prodigy who could beat the world’s chess champions at 7.  He could do the most difficult calculations in less than 30 seconds and his name kept flashing regularly in newspapers, magazines and television.  The world envied us for what we were – I was a much decorated Pilot with several gallantry awards which I received by carrying out dangerous, lifesaving assignments and Sarah was a 5 times Oscar winning actress.  And my son, the newspaper claimed would one day get the Nobel prize in mathematics! What else could anyone want out of life?  What else?

Then it happened one day.

I was rushing headlong into the long dead volcano and staring death in the face as the earth rushed in to meet me.  I was testing the limits of thrill and excitement I could engage myself.  I tensed, ready with the controls to pull the planes at the last possible minute and inches away from danger.  That was what excited me, the play with danger.  Adrenalin quickened my heartbeat to a new threshold.

“Now!” I muttered to myself.  “Now!”

But then the lights went out.  I knew I hadn’t hit the ground, not yet, because the ground was still far away and there was no way the light could have gone out, except for an eclipse.  But they had, and I had not hit the ground.  This was surprising because in the fractions of the seconds that elapsed, I should have, but didn’t.  I was safe, without a hit, in the darkness.  No sound of the engine plane.  No crash.  No vibrations.  Just an eerie quiet.  And an opaque blackness.

Time ticked away in my mind.  Few seconds, minutes and then a long time.  I tried to move but I was stuck fast on the seat.  I reached out for the belts and released them.  Where was I?  Where was this?  The plane couldn’t be mid air and for so long.  I had been hurtling downwards and had been less than a 100 feet away.  What was happening?

Free, I thrashed my hands around, tried to smash the screen.  There was no screen!  I tried again.  No way.  I gripped the handles they were there, but the screen was missing where it should have been.  I brought my hands close to my eyes and felt my helmet.  Suddenly I felt claustrophobic.  Quickly, I pulled off the helmet.  Bright light hit my eyes and I was blinded by it!  I realized there was no plane!  I was in a room, a very quiet room with many gadgets.  Where was this?

Slowly the rods and cones in my eyes adjusted to light.  Still the light hurt, even though it wasn’t intense.  That only meant I hadn’t been exposed to light for a long time.  I looked at the helmet I was holding and it was connected with wires and wires and wires!  My gaze followed the sinewy wires that slithered to the floor, just like snakes.  They led to a console placed on a recessed portion of the room. I moved about in the room which had been built deliberately to give a dimensionless feel.  Where was I?  Was I in some kind of a prison?

My heart was beating fast because I was suddenly afraid.  Looking again at the helmet, I realized the helmet screen was not transparent and what I thought of to be a helmet was not a helmet but a shield.  Or was it a gear?

Looking around I saw just walls and drips.  I followed the drips and realized they were attached to me.  Someone was nourishing me, while I imagined I was flying, so the illusion didn’t fade away or break.  I looked at the console and it was simply playing noise.  Then, it blanked out.

Without knowing why, I reached out for a button and then adjusted certain settings on the console.  The screen came alive with my picture of flying.  Instinctively, I walked back to my helmet and wore it.  The same feeling of flying the aircraft engrossed me!  I began to enjoy my dream.  Then, quickly, to fade the illusion, I removed the helmet.

Present reality stared at me as the invented reality faded away.  I was living in a dream world and the virtual machine with the drips was sustaining it!  I pulled off the drips and looked around.  If these drip sets were real, then there must be people who were attending to me.  For the first time, the thought of escaping from captivity occurred to me.  I looked around and saw a door and walked out of it.

It didn’t open into space, it opened into another room.  Immediately, I was struck with the likeness it had with the house of my dreams.  Identical, including the small crack in the tile just near the door.  So this was where they moved me when I arrived home!  What I felt gave me goose bumps.

I moved into another room and saw my wife!  She too was sitting on a console, wearing a helmet.  She was smiling, a beautiful smile no doubt but it appeared stupid and empty to me.  Poor girl, she was fooling herself with happiness in that make-believe world!

“Sarah!”  I called her name.  Was it real? More important, was she my wife?

“John!  I love you.  You are so handsome!  But I wish you were more careful about flying,” she said.  I thought it was a reply but she was responding to a stimulus given to her in the world she was living.  She hadn’t heard me.

“Sarah!”  I tried to jolt her.

“Thanks John.  I feel tired, let’s retire early tonight.”

She didn’t respond.  I shouted, screamed, gave her nudges, and slapped her on the shoulder.  Nothing!  She was in a deep trance, coma, anesthesia or whatever anyone may call it.  She was cut off from my world.  We were in the same room but existed in different dimensions.  As if I were dead for her.  She continued to relive her virtual world experiences.

Then, the elaborate consol on which she was sitting, complete with the drips attached to her body, began to move noiselessly.  It moved to another room.  This was the bedroom of the world in which Sarah and John (yes that was me, but really?) existed, but one that didn’t belong jointly to us anymore.

I was in for another shock!  I saw George, my child prodigy, sitting on another console, his expression intense!

Suddenly, for no reason, tears trickled down my cheeks as my ideal world of perfect happiness crashed like a house of cards.  It was a fake.  George was no prodigy, not in the real world.  It was a make-believe hypothesis.  He was ordinary but I thought him to be extraordinary.  The complete and callous deception made me angry.

“George, wake up!  They’re fooling you!”

“That’s Sin2a!”  He replied triumphantly.  The same on-top-of the world expression reflecting on my face that made me proud on him now looked contorted and full of conceit because it was for something he didn’t have!

I tried to search for a way to switch off the madness but couldn’t find the switches.  I tried to pull out wires but they were strong. For the next hour all my attempts to shatter their illusion failed miserably.  They laughed together, interacted with me and each other but they didn’t know anything, didn’t know the big joke that was being played on them.

Sick, hurt and wiping away my tears, I stomped out of the room, unable to bear their pathetic plights.  Moving through corridors and doors, I came across a staircase.  I began to climb.  The climb was steep and the steps were high.  Thick metal layers began to show as I climbed higher and higher.  I was panting now and took rest.  Then I resumed my climb again.  Beads of sweat began to form on my head.  The heat was unbearable now.  It took me an hour of effort to reach the top.

A door confronted me.  I opened it and my jaw dropped.  Outside the destruction was horrifying.  There were skeletons laughing at me with their dropped open jaws.  A huge Sea Hawk lay with its fuselage broken into two and no wings.  The sunset was uncanny in that no man’s land.  Buses, cars and buildings were distorted, mutilated and pitted.  The house where I stood, my house was charred.  I walked through huddled skeletons and moved into the silence lingering in the interiors of that house.  My wife, my son and me we were surviving in the deep basement we had built as a precaution a long time ago.

I saw a huge photograph of John, me!  I was receiving a prize for developing virtual war simulations for the US Army from the president of America!  Then I saw more magazines and curious I read through them, my head began to spin as the contents connected me to a past I had long since forgotten.  It came alive, with one word – Nuclear.

I saw the miraculously preserved wood of the bed I was sitting on.   Reluctantly, I went back to the stairs from which I had climbed.  I closed the door securely behind me.  I couldn’t risk intrusions from desperadoes.

When the door shut behind me, I couldn’t contain my tears.

Going down had been much easier than coming up, just as it had been for mankind.  One war had brought all glory and progress to this!  In which, the world lay twisted and destroyed above, by a few nuclear bombs!

When I reached down, the team was there, waiting for me.

“So that was a time-out,” I stared at my subordinates, albeit sheepishly.  “My window to reality, just incase things improved.”

“Now what, Sir?”  A spectacled techie with long hair asked me, nervously.

“We have enough funds?”

“No worry about that,” the financial expert smiled.

“Why is this place so vulnerable?  Anyone can walk through that door.”

“It’s impregnable.  You could go out because it was a time-out.  Your setting enabled you to walk out.  No one can get in.  The 2 feet thick steel door padded with lead can’t be compromised even by a bomb.”

“OK,” I conceded, as I went back to my console and sat on the chair, thinking.

“What are your orders, sir?”

“Let me think.  Give me an hour please!”

In that hour, I didn’t shout at my wife and kid.  The kid was a prodigy.  I remembered it when the effects of the selective amnesia causing drug weaned off.  In fact, he was on an intensive learning course I had designed for him with my virtual gaming skills.

I watched my wife too through tears that were hot and salty.  They tasted just the same, the way they had millions of years ago, since human beings.  But mankind had changed the planet beyond redemption.  One had just to step outside this shelter, an oasis in ruins, to discover the destructive potential of humans.

An hour later, the team strapped back all the paraphernalia I had dismantled.

“How long after do you want the time-out to be set this time, sir?”

“3 years from now.”  I had already reset the time-outs for Sarah and George.  No point in causing distress to them, his had been enough!

When they injected the anesthesia again, I remembered the bright orange landscape littered with skeletons and the twisted man-made creation once again before it began to fade.  Then it was dark and I felt going down a tunnel.

Then there was bright sunshine!

I regained my bearings again.  The plane was diving lower and lower.  I pulled at the controls with all the force in me.  At the last minute, the aircraft tilted its angle and once again I began to soar in the sky.  I took a deep breath.

“Whew, that was close!” I muttered.  “Damn close!  Almost hit the ground this time!”

And I exulted, and smiled at the blue skies and the green earth below.

A perfect world.  A perfect life.  What more could I ask?

Transformation

Transformation

Sci Fi story published in Science Reporter

“And now we come to the most peculiar part of the twenty first century metropolitan human beings – the heart,” professor sykrishnan.edu smiled as he zoomed on his favourite topic.

suruchi.stu adjusted the knob in her head gear to get a clearer sound.  She also fine-tuned the colours on the video screen she wore on her wrist, the lecture was downloading in the e-pod.

“Myths galore surrounded the heart.  It was known as the seat of conscience, the abode of God, the centre for emotions and creativity.  But scientists maintained it was just a pump, to send a supply of blood to different organs,” sykrishnan.edu looked around.  The helmets bobbed with interest.  He had the attention of the classroom.  He pressed a button and the space between him and the students lit up with the 3D holographic image of the human heart.

“Reverred before, extinct now.  Biotechnology gifted human beings with the nano heart at the end of the 21 century and later developments replaced blood with plasma and then with xytelol, a synthetic chemical.  In one stroke we removed all the complications of human beings associated with blood and the heart.  Most bacterial and viral diseases were eliminated and the span of life jumped from 80 to 500 years abruptly.  More mutations caused by in house genetic experimenting eliminated the vital step in cell differentiation that formed the heart.”

A hand went up.

sykrishnan.edu liked interruptions.  They stimulated him to think and expand his theories.  If a querry arose, it meant that the student who asked it had not been able to get an answer to it, despite the information on the web which could be accessed specifically in less than 1 trillisecond.  Naturally, he would be forced to think and evolve to a higher level of awareness.

“Don’t you think that mankind chose the path of evolution and information while deliberately sacrificing creativity?”

“No.  On the contrary, very few people opted for the technology at first due to the apprehensions that are always associated with new inventions.  But as more and more people realized the benefits of a quality life, the transformation was a smooth and natural progression.

“But what about the fall in the standards of creativity?  Most people feel that we haven’t produced a work of art in the last, I don’t know how many centuries.”

“Yes, admittedly the output from those creative machines that juggle words and images to construct completely new works in the form of images and stories from a previous data base, lack the previous depths but we are working with the algorithms to make them more interesting and innovative…”

“The talk of new algorithms is 200 years old now….”

“Yes.  Looks a long time in absolute terms, but relative to man’s life its nanonuts!”

Several screens on helmets of the students flashed LOL that meant lots of laughter.  Webmen expressed supposed feeling with words!  By replacing peanuts with nanonuts he had evoked a humorous response.

“With mega tera hertz of computing power, the delay is still too much….”

“All science is like that. It sometimes wanders in the wrong direction and gets bogged down.  Then suddenly there is a flash of inspiration and the problem gets solved.  I am optimistic that our Neno Think Tanks will surpass Mr. Shakespeare and William Blake in the near future, in terms of literary effort.  They will also beat Mr. Picasso and company very soon.  Like their names, their works would soon become outdated.”

LOL, went the screens.

Another hand went up.  manav.stu was the most brilliant of them.

“If we are able to re-circulate xytelol through the human heart, will our generation reinstall those hearts in us, back again, to compensate for what we miss at the cost of taking a step higher in the evolution ladder?”

“Some people are trying, but I don’t think we will go as far as to switch on the cell differentiation mechanism, clone the several hearts we have preserved and put them back into people.  Don’t forget that some of us are settled in out back galaxies that will take years to reach.  And who knows what that might do to age spans?”

“But if everything was in order?” manav.stu persisted.  He was a space pilot who was catching up on biology to increase his knowledge base as many adults were doing in the classroom.

“I don’t know.  We have overcome the emotional confusions that pestered the metropolitan man.  He was a love sick, sentimental human being who was confused most of his life.  His heart and brain pulled him to two different places.  I like the alignment that we have today and the clarity of purpose.  If you ask me, I would not like to undo the good we have achieved.  A lot of people think like me and the minority that still conducts that research about channeling the heart back into webbeings, really in all practical terms, has no future.”

When the class ended, sykrishnan.edu picked his Nene Think Tank and left the lecture hall, satisfied that the lecture had gone well.  He sighed as he thought of the next thing on his agenda.  It was time to go to the clinic and make that important decision regarding the fate of syradha.edu, the mathematics professor who had been kept in confinement because of her strange behaviour.

*     *      *

“No success, I am afraid,” the doctor observed.  They had not been able to bring her out of her hibernation mode.  “I think she is deliberately resisting our attempts.  Every once in a while we get such incidents of people who lose interest in life.”

“You tried another chip replacement?”  sykrishnan.edu asked.

“Yes, but it never works.  The chips merely assist functioning by enhancing processing power.  The desire to live, has to come from within.”

“Terminate her,” sykrishnan.edu uttered the order they had been expecting.

“Do you wish to clone her?”

“No.  Just put her to death.”

Ten minutes later he got the call he had been expecting – his wife had been terminated.

Outside the campus, he pressed a few buttons on the console of his wrist and sent an application for a partner.  He needed one because his 200 year relationship with his wife syradha.edu had ended.

*     *      *

A month later, as he turned his car towards the highway, he saw a man dash for cover.  Losers like those vagabonds routinely hid in places like these, where the last of the remaining trees and shrubs still survived.  It had been a long time he had seen a vagabond.

Just a few trees and greenery had been allowed to remain, even though webbeings no longer depended upon them for oxygen or for their food.  Xytelol and a bloodless webman had eliminated the need for oxygen.  Food came from cloning animals, for their meat.  They were even developing the option to clone one’s own organs for eventual consumption in a bid to be completely self-sufficient in laboratories.

He dialed 0101 for webpolice.

Within three minutes, they arrived on their supersonic hovercrafts.

He reported the sighting.

“Hop in,” the duty officer offered.  “This is going to be fun.”

*     *      *

They located him easily on the radars.  He appeared as a thermal image, that moved with a hopelessly slow speed.

“Got him!” The officer remarked.

The thermal image became real in less than a minute.

Ahead, from the hovercraft, he saw the man running.  Knowing he was cornered, he had discarded his cover in an attempt to run as fast as possible.

Abruptly, he stopped and raised his hands frantically, in a gesture of surrender.

The officer zoomed his cam.  The face of the terror stricken man zeroed on the screen.  Shaggy beard, hounded look – but unmistakably prof steve.edu!  The identity match made by the Nene, flashed the confirmation.  Steve.edu –  the man who vehemently asked the scientific community to seriously rethink about giving back to mankind, the gift from God that they had discarded – the human heart!

Incredibly, from the corner of his eye, sykrishnan.edu saw the officer draw his laser from the side panels.

“No!” he screamed and lounged at the officer.  The laser beam missed the target and steve.edu began to run in a zig zag pattern, clearly to duck the next beam.

“He is surrendering, cant you see that?  Why did you use the laser?”

“Orders from above.  He is dangerous.  Has to be eliminated.  Don’t obstruct me from conducting my duty.”  Anger! Anger! His helmet screen flashed the words!

“There is no logic in eliminating a man ready to surrender.  Besides he is an eccentric but widely respected scientist…”

“Then you have got to go too.”

Fortunately for him, he was able to locate the other laser on his side.  He acted quickly and ducked before the beam from the officer flew harmlessly, inches above his head.

The man didn’t get a second chance.  Before he could pull his trigger, the beam from sykrishnan.edu’s gun burnt him instantaneously.  He pressed the emergency button and the hover craft stopped.  He took the driver seat and followed the professor.

“It’s alright, you are safe,” he said as he closed in on the man who had been his favourite mentor, two hundred years ago.

“Oh its krish!”  steve.edu shouted with joy.

“He tried to kill you and when I objected, he tried to kill me too,” sykrishnan.edu said pointing to the carbon debris inside the hovercraft.  “Now we are both on the same side of the law.”

steve.edu hopped in.

“If I am not wrong, they will be backing up very fast.  Move over there,” he suggested.

They got down to a spot.

“Now let’s leave the hovercraft on its auto mode. At its speed, it will lead our quarry away from us as far as possible and when they discover it’s location, it will have no relevance to our hideout.”

“Brilliant,” sykrishnan.edu grinned.

“Now let us go down.”

steve.edu uprooted a shrub to uncover a hole in the ground just enough for him to squeeze in it.  Then he was gone.  sykrishnan.edu looked at the hole uncertainly.

“Come on, quick.  Don’t waste time.  But pull back that shrub as you enter.”

He did as he was told.

The tunnel was dark for sometime and then he could see light.

At the far end of the tunnel, he saw what was a huge laboratory.  And he could see at least fifty scientists working there.

“What is this?” sykrishnan.edu gasped.  “You have an undercover operation here.  So may be the authorities were right after all, in trying to eliminate you.”

“It is a long story.  But before you make any judgments follow me.”

steve.edu led him to another huge hall.  Adorning the walls were giant paintings and their beauty took his breath away.

On the side walls were shelves.

“Pick any notebook and read.”

He picked one at random. There were poems and prose of extraordinary construction, each of them exotic in construction and brilliant.

He looked up to see the professor.

“You have found the algorithm.”

“No.  I have found the heart!”

“What do you mean?”

“I have found a way to transplant the human heart into the webman and made him complete.”

“But that would mean having blood back into our lives, the need for plants and a short life span…” sykrishnan.edu objected.

“A price many of us here are willing to pay, in exchange for the beauty that has disappeared from our lives.  We have an alternative community down here and in two planets in far away galaxies.  Life has already begun there.  We have love, creativity and emotions, instead of logic, objectivity and lack of sensitivity.  We have children in our lives, instead of cold and calculating adults.  We are what we should be, alive and full of life and not just a machine.”

“This is so confusing.  The scientific community believes…”

“You just saw the power of the heart.  Those paintings and verses are outputs of ordinary people like you and me.  You are a scientist too.  What would you like to believe in? Mere theories or proof?”

“Prove me you have a heart.”

One by one, steve.edu and ten other people stood besides a holographic MRI and the image of their pounding heart, throbbing and alive was projected in 3D.  From lecture hall to reality, he was witnessing the rebirth of the heart.

“What are those scientists doing now that you have achieved success?”

“Trying to fight disease causing bacteria and virus.  We are using the fruits of our evolution to combat the threat that blood filled webman would inevitably face.  We have found several cures but not all.”

“What happens to me?”

“You would have been dead but for your reflexes and will be hunted by webpolice like me until you are eliminated.  You have a choice though….”

*     *      *

One month later, he looked out of the windows of the spacecraft Noah, that was leaving the planet, like a dream.

They were heading to Uranus.  Fifty six people, men and women.  Pairs.  So that there would be more life and more like minded people inhabiting the Universe.  The prototypes of development, of an alien race.  Complete with all the animals and plants.  No wonder it had the biblical reference to Noah.

He felt odd to be the off shoot of the human race.  Human beings stood at a crossroad where they were splitting into two races – the webmen and the refurbished cosmopolitan man.  One of them was only logic and superstrength and with a formidable lifespan while the other had logic tempered with creativity, but a limited lifespan.  Would there be an Armageddon in the near future, between the two races or would they coexist?  Time alone would tell.

He would never have chosen this unsure, insecure life, if that officer had not tried to kill him.  He was a reluctant convert.  But everyone else had made a careful choice.  Their decision surprised him.

He reached for his chest and felt the strange sensation of the heart that pumped inside.

*     *      *

His wife, syradha.edu came close to him and grasped his hands in a reassuring way.

He had been shocked when he discovered that she had long been a part of the community.  What they had eliminated at the clinic, had been her clone.

She had chosen this way of life voluntarily after she had read and heard about the work of steve.edu.  She had opted to leave the mainstream stealthily.

Her touch tingled his body like he had never felt before and his heart beat faster.

Was it love?

She looked at him and smiled.  “You have to master a new language.  A language of the heart, professor.  It won’t take long because it is simple and spontaneous.  With you 200 plus IQ you will pick it up very fast.”

He hoped she was right and clasped her hand tightly and looked at the bewitching magic of the distant stars, planets and space with awe.

He felt oneness with the Universe.  He felt a part of life.  Not a cold, isolated and calculating machine without emotions.

He looked forward to starting all over and again.

(in)Complete

(in)Complete

Amina sat by the small fire she had built outside the barracks she was staying at. She took out her diary and started writing the day’s journal. It was a habit with her, documenting what she experienced, every day. She did not want to forget anything she saw. On her dull days, she read her journals and relived her past sojourns. She recorded what she saw, to one day be able to recite these to the one person she was looking for. She needed to tell him all that she had seen whenever they met. If they ever met.

Lost in her longing and hope of meeting the man she owed everything, she turned back to the first page. It had blotched patches of ink juxtaposed with a beautiful handwriting. She remembered how her tears had fallen over her words, immortalizing the pain she had felt.

As her mind drifted, she found her vision blurring. Or did her vision blur, so that her mind could drift? The eyes, they had always seemed to have a will of their own. Refusing to do their job, they forced her to indulge her nostalgia; forced her past to trespass into her present, riding the memory train. It brought back the horrid times when she had been truly happy – a fleeting happiness that destroyed her world in its wake.

Yes, she had been in love once. She had loved dearly. What they had together, what they shared were the most beautiful emotions Amina had ever felt. But that is what love does. It romanticizes and makes everything grander in retrospect, she heard her logical self argue with her true self.

Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. All I know is what I felt during that phase of my life. Everything was better, our handicaps did not seem to matter. We completed each other, not only by overcoming our physical limitations through the complementary nature of our defects, but also emotionally. How can you deny that? It is the truth…

It was around the time she had started her Masters in Developmental Studies, when she had met Gabriel. He was a quadriplegic. He had been in a war, in his country. “We had many wars back then. I don’t even remember which one or even whom I was fighting,” she remembered Gabriel telling her. The war had taken away his faculty of movement. He had come to Amina’s country, seeking refuge from his own. His surroundings reminded him of his athletic days and his love for all sports. He could not play anymore and watching the sports only heightened his bitterness. Amina was the balm to his pain.

She recalled how Gabriel used to lie next to her, reminiscing, for hours together: sometimes about his countryside, sometimes his war. His voice, his words painted a world for Amina. Her imagination took flight and she felt his country better than she had ever felt her own. She felt like she belonged there. She felt she belonged to Gabriel.

Her heart skipped a beat, fearing where her mind was going next. She shook her head and forced her eyes to focus on something to derail the memory train. Out of the blur, her journal materialized into focus. First page – at the start. When she had opened her eyes for the first time in the hospital. No, she hadn’t just been born, but the experience had been quite like that. It was the most eventful day in her life.

Gabriel had brought Amina news of her surgery. The most beautiful gift she could have ever dreamt of. Such joy she had experienced at just the thought of it. She had forgotten to ask any questions, fearing she would wake up from the dream. She had waited all her life for a donor and it had finally happened. Gabriel had come with her to the hospital. He was with her when she was being prepped for the surgery and left her side only after she was anaesthetized.

When she recovered from the effects of the anesthesia, she asked for Gabriel. She took in the reaction of the doctors and nurses in the silence, her heart sinking. The room stank of their tension. But she was fighting against her logical self and would dare not venture where it was taking her…

Amina was born blind. She, however, had learned to live, and not just manage, without being bogged down by an obvious handicap.

Her mental development had been acute, because her mind was extremely keen. It wanted to take in and process everything. “Vision makes the mind lazy,” a ten year old Amina had declared to her mother, “I have four working senses.” Indeed, she had an extremely developed olfactory sense and perceived most objects around her with an acute sense of hearing.

She could tell the height of the person speaking to her, through the angle at which the voice was coming from. She could tell the length of the car, and the speed it was moving at through the sound it made while passing her. With her sharp memory, she could remember where everything was, once she had sensed it.

Her world existed in a complex code of sound and smell signals. Even the inane objects, which we see but refuse to register in our conscious memory, letting them slip into the subconscious, drew her attention and affixed her gaze.

Gabriel was enamored with Amina’s passion. Her zest for life, because of her handicap not in spite of it, made her very different from Gabriel. Though healing, he knew he could never embrace life the way Amina did.

Her fingers involuntarily pulled out her only connection to the man she loved. Tucked between the pages, buried in there was a note he had left by her hospital bed.

“One complete life. Better than two incomplete ones.”

Amina felt the irony of having lived the darkest moment of her life with a brand new pair of eyes.

On Fiction

On Fiction

“Truth is often vastly more stranger than fiction” – EV Lucas, Face on the Wall

I read the story as a kid and this sentence has stuck in my head ever since. Again today I found myself wondering on similar lines. I am a fiction writer. I like telling stories. I like making up things – people and situation. Today, I was wondering does a fiction writer lie for fun?

I have never lied in my life. I don’t like to. A subjective view, of course. I believe it serves no higher purpose. I don’t conceal anything about me either. So, as you would imagine, I am an open book sort of a person. People just need to ask me anything, and I have always told them the truth. Lying does not agree with me. The lengths I would have to go to protect that lie make it absolutely unviable, for me, to lie.

Being secretive is not my thing either. It just makes people suspicious, I believe and they become more nosy than I like. So I just go ahead and tell people what they want to know. I have nothing to hide. Or so I thought up until today.

I realized I am probably more of a liar than anyone of my friends and acquaintances. I lie for fun. I lie when I write. I make up characters, place and people. I write with the authority of a seasoned journalist about life after death, about things that will happen in the future and about spirituality, religion and philosophy.

I have often said and still maintain that even while narrating incidents to friends and family, I embellish, exaggerate. I try and keep the central idea the same. That is why I never tire from repeating. Every time I narrate I take the liberty to tweak some little detail. Add more light to some other. It keeps me and the listeners engaged. It give me joy to entertain with trinkets of my imagination.

I got to wondering how and when did I start making things up. It seemed like we all have a need for a little bit of excitement, a little bit of drama in our lives. Some people get addicted to that and become compulsive liars. There are others like yours truly who become compulsive writers. We all need a dose of drama in our lives. It’s a perfect foil for the drudgery, mundane and monotonous nature of our lives. There are people who steal, cheat just for that bit of adrenalin. It keeps us going.

I’ll close with a quote from self – “All good stories need embellishment.”

Javier – Who loved to live, to live on love

Javier – Who loved to live, to live on love

This is the story of our friend Javier, who was not like us. He had a zeal for life, unlike the rest of us. We were all tired, fatigued and always viewed life with an iota, or more, of distrust. We never could understand what life brings and what is in store for us but our lives, the part which had happened by the time we reached where we were, had taught us to be used to the rude shocks that inevitably come along to bring us down from a state of happiness or neutrality. We slept with one eye open, to catch life sneaking around in the shadows at night watching us. Waiting to strike, to deal its hand. But Javier, was a whole another being.

He loved to live, as we have already established. He was happiest when he was awake, and regretted when he was too tired to stay up. He wanted to embrace life and as many moments as he could. He said that what he’ll be left with are memories, at the end of it all and he did not want to spend any time sleeping, which was the time he added nothing to his bag of memories. He traveled the world, refusing to work like the rest of us. Refusing to be brought down by life.

We all believed he could afford to do so because he was never hungry. Not, at least, in the way rest of us were. He never ate a solid meal, he didn’t have to. For the longest time we wondered, how did he manage to stay alive and then one day over lunch, well when we were all having lunch and he was just sitting with us, we decided to ask him, and this is what he told us.

I live on love. I know you would find it hard to believe, but when I see love around it nourishes me, the way carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals work for you. It’s my food, Javier told us as normally as he one would talk about a game of cricket last night. Nonchalant, yes that’s the word that describes it. Matter-of-factly.

But how is it possible? we asked him, hoping to wrench the truth out of him or to catch if he was pulling a fast one, as the tweeting kids today say, on us. Well that’s just how it is, I got no say in all this because my parents or whoever created me did not ask my opinion on how things should be, Javier told us. Well you have a point there, we told him not able to refute the plain and sound logic in his argument. But do you ever feel hunger? Yes, I do, all the time, Love is not that easy to find, you see. That is why I must keep traveling, in search of love, Javier was solemn, Does this love have to be directed towards you? Or does it work if you just see people sharing love, we had so many questions but we tried to do it as lovingly as possible so that, we could finally feel, as if he was also having lunch with us.

It works better, or should I say tastes better maybe?, when the love is directed towards me, but it works well when I see it between other people, between animals, in nature, It feeds me and I feel healthy and bright I fill out and my mater says it makes me look handsome, at least as handsome as one can look within the constraints defined by the creator, you see. We saw, we were beginning to understand. But there was no way the questions were going to end with beginning of understanding, this is usually the moment when the biggest and most pertinent questions start coming, So what happens when you don’t find love, when someone hurts you or you see hatred around?

Well, the changes are slow and subtle in the beginning, like a gradual delta decline that is hard to notice in the beginning, but when it becomes too much the changes are noticeable, I start shriveling up, or at least that’s how pater put it when he finally understood what was happening. The shine in my eyes starts to recede, the glow in my skin goes away, and that is what gives me that ‘shriveled up’ look that we discussed a moment ago. It weighs on my shoulders, as if I were carrying a physical burden, as if I was having a hard time lifting myself up, I slouch, much to maters dismay, And what I hate the worst is that I am unable to smile, it hurts me to try and laugh or smile, I feel like someone normal would feel if they were starving, yes, that’s right, I think I starve for love.

None of us spoke a whole lot after that, we were all silent, thinking about what our special friend had just told us, wondering if were very different from him. Love, through its presence or absence, has always been felt by us in the same way, hasn’t it? It’s love that buoys us, and the lack of it that makes us triste, that takes away the shine from our eyes and smiles from our faces. With love, for love we can do anything, Javier’s life seemed to be telling us. But without it, we shrivel up, as Javier’s papa told him.

Javier died on December 16, 2012. Doctors said he died of starvation. When all the love was sucked up from the world and clouds covered the sky, so that we don’t see that even the sun refuses to rise and shine. We were all engulfed with darkness that will stay with us forever, until we change and learn to love. We all love to live, well most of us do and Javier did love that more than anything else, but from Javier we need to learn that we live on love, that we depend on it, more than anything else.

Soul Fried Fish

Soul Fried Fish

It’s a Sunday afternoon. I am lying in the center of a large dining hall in a five star restaurant. I suddenly realize that I am warm, in spite of the air conditioning. Too warm. My insides are burning. Seems like my soul just got fried.

Let me try and be polite, like you five star people. I am John. I know it’s a common name. Could be yours, or yours, or yours perhaps? No? Well that’s odd, I never thought there won’t be a John in such a big gathering. But I guess, people are not named John out here in your country. I see you agree.

I get that you are interested in my story, since I am not from around here. You think I have a unique story to tell, from where I am? That my life would have been really different from yours seems interesting to you, doesn’t it? I really don’t think it is that different. We all take the same route in our lives, broadly speaking. It’s how we observe it, how we analyze it and how we internalize that defines us. That is what makes us different from each other, doesn’t it?

No, I hear you say. You still want to hear it? Well, I’ll tell you then. But let me warn you, you have heard it a thousand times before. You’ll all get up from your chairs at the end of it thinking “Oh, same old, John!” and I will remind again you at the end that I told ya.

I was born, like everyone has to be – to become everyone. Alright, alright I’ll swear, if that is what you all want. No more attempts at that sorta’ humor. As I was saying, I was really close to my parents back in the days and I remember how much they loved me. Among my earliest memories is with my parents at our home when my dad and mom would come home after a day of just loafing around with his friends. Yes, that’s true they didn’t work, like you guys now. There was no concept of working for ’em. They just wandered around, enjoying the fruits of mother nature. Hippies, I hear you say. It wasn’t quite like that, I hope you’ll realize that as I tell you more. Try not to judge.

Which brings me to an interesting theory I have had for some time now. You people are very uncomfortable with not being able to understand or comprehend something. In your mind, as any information gets processed, your head starts throwing labels. You start attaching these labels as you collect more information. Think about your friends, your brother or sister, what comes to your mind. Adjectives, that define them? To you, everyone you’ve met is a collection of labels. For things that you understand, you try and break it down into components on which you can attach the labels. That is the only way you wrap your head around anything new. I am not saying, it is good or bad. I am just wondering if it is the only way? It does seem rather limiting, doesn’t it?

Coming back to my story. Growing up, I learned the same way of life. What to eat, how to survive. But I was always hungry. Always wanted more. My parents couldn’t understand my hunger. They tried to understand me. When they couldn’t they tried to counsel me. They were scared for me. Afraid that this unique trait in my personality, would land me in trouble. However, My need to do more than just hang around, eating the same food every day. Doing the same things over and over again. At one point I was convinced that there is more to life than just that. My parents’ inability to understand me made me Angry.

One day, while wondering about these thing, I wandered quite far away from home. That had become very usual for me. But this day was different. I saw around me and I saw the vegetation change. I found a new fruit – that’s what my parents called what we ate. I ate a stomach full. Imagine the sweetest, juiciest fruit you have ever had ever had. It was better than that. It was the first thing that I had tasted, that was different from the other things we ate. I carried as many as I could back home. My parents had never seen that fruit either, neither had my friends. They called it a Miracle.

I knew there was more. I knew it was not just a miracle. I had believed in it. I had believed that there was more, and it had materialized in our lives, enriching all of us. I became a dreamer that day. Always looking out for more. Where my friends and family were convinced that it was a rare miracle, to me it was just another brick in the wall. Just another Brick.

I started going further and further away from home each day in search of new fruits. I was exploring a lot, but I returned home empty handed each day. I was overwhelmed with a passion to discover more riches, and it became an obsession with me. As I returned home all worn out each day, I could see my neighbors looking at me and shacking their heads. They called me an Idiot.

And one day, just like that, my perseverance paid off. I found yet another new fruit. I was overjoyed, but this  time I kept it to myself. I did not share my discovery with anyone, because I believed they were not worthy of it. They had not shown the one thing that mattered the most to me then. The one thing I needed because I felt like I was doing something different. Trust.

I stumbled upon a lot of different varieties of fruits in the days that followed, not one of which I shared with them. I did not feel the need to prove to anyone that I was, in fact, much more Intelligent.

I just needed to go on and on and On.

“I am better than those Neanderthals.”

AMBITION. That is what got me here. Let me tell you the final part of the story so that you can see how it all fits together.

After having made several discoveries, as one would expect I was tired. And satisfied, mistake me not, with the progress I had managed. I was, I truly was. There was nothing more I really wanted. So one day I put up a grand exhibition of all my discoveries and invited everyone. They were all awed into shock. They tasted all the fruits, and loved all of them. It added color to their bland lives, some of them told me. They thanked me for having struggled so hard for the greater good. They said, I have taken the race forward.

I was filled with joy, as is predictable. But there was a nagging feeling in my head. If all the fruits were so great, I needed to find the most delicious of them all. Wasn’t that I started out in the first place? This is where my need became a greed. I left home that day, determined to find the best fruit there ever was.

After travelling for several days, I finally saw a single fruit hanging. There was nothing around it, no other fruits or vegetation. My eyes widened. I was convinced that this was the one. I hurried and reached the fruit. Circled around it and ascertained it was nothing like what I had seen before. It was only after I had been admiring it for quite some time, I saw there was something attached to it. A string.

I had to make a choice then. But my choice was made, even before I knew whether I would have to make it.   To hell with caution, said I as I went for the fruit. The string suddenly became taut and that was that. It pierced my cheek and I was pulled out of the water.

And that is how I am here today. And it is only today that I realized that I am no different from any of you. I am just another Soul Fried Fish.

Umm… Told ya?

Ambition is a dangerous recipe and it is overrated. It is important, but it is not what defines me. It is not what I make of myself, materialistically, that matters when I think about the end. It is a sum of the moments of joy that I have spent in this lifetime. The memories of all the places I have been and the people I have loved, each day more than I thought was possible. The strong emotions I have felt and recorded in my mind forever. These are the things I will miss leaving behind. To me, it is these little things that matter. And for that, ambition needs to be moderated with satisfaction. Today, I know, I am satisfied. And this post shall be a reminder of that.

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Expression Kills

Expression Kills

I am not unknown for my conformity issues. This might seem like a desperate attempt to find another ‘Road Less Travelled’ and a contrived challenge to the accepted norms, but do try to look beyond finding fault in the writer and focus on the subject matter howsoever hard it may seem. Maybe it will open an eye you have shut wide thus far.

The ‘accepted norm’ in this case is the unflattering, uninhibited and to a large extent unconcealed attraction of the crowds, audience rather, towards the lead singer in a band. I have always felt for the drummer who sat behind his assortment or the synth player lurking deep in shadows for the entire duration of the performance stepping out for a sip of water in between songs or to take a collective bow at the end of the end of the show. All this while the lead singer and the guitarists take their numerous bows, yelling their countless ‘Thank you-s’. Even the bass guitarist has his moments during the course of the night – what with the archetypal demeanor and hairstyle (what’s with these guys? They seem like a common breed these days… certainly un-human-like!)

I have often thought that it is possible that guitar is a more charismatic instrument compared to its bretheren, but I have also since long discarded the idea. It can’t be. Even if it is, it is certainly no deal clincher the way it is made out to be on nights like the ones in discussion.

I have also been, ever since I have found myself to be one, an ardent supporter of the underdog. I did check whether it was a manifestation of that same sentiment that was at play when I felt for the less acknowledged and less loved members of the band. I have no better explanation than – my gut tells me it’s not that. I needed then to figure out what was it.

I went to a concert last night and attempted once more to get to the root of the dynamics of the elements at play during a performance, and yes, to try and have a good time too. As the night progressed, and yes, as I got more and more inebriated, I had a sudden clarity. It was expression, as the expression I hope would go, that kills.

There are those of us who are used to being the centre of attention and they love being there. For lack of a better way to put it, I feel they are maxed out. They are too exposed and reveal so much about them as they go along it is conceivable that there will be little in them that is not known by everyone. They’ll make their every thought, every action and every emotion very public. They have nothing in them left to themselves and they can’t cherish anything without sharing. All the elements that make a human being, for these people, are out in the public domain, open for scrutiny and judgment. They are yelling their lungs out and jumping around the jacks, like jacks for attention. For love.

Ignore the condescending tone, I really appreciate that hunger. The joy of getting that much by just being your natural self and uninhibited expression might actually be something tangible. But you have to embrace the downside of exposing your soul.

The band I had went to see perform had a sax player, who doubled up as a violinist and tripled up as a recorder player. The serenity and peace on his face, the inability to perform any antics lent him a glow that shone him more brightly than the movers and shakers of the band. At least to me he seemed to be wielding an aura of mystery that worked like magic. The enigma of his persona filled the room.

His music was soulful and I found myself waiting in eager anticipation of his solos. The music from his multiple instruments were pregnant with a charm that was characteristic of him. At the end of one of his solos, he opened his eyes only to wink at one of the girls standing in the front row, tuned into his music with rapt attention. That was the most dramatic act he dared that evening. I wouldn’t be surprised if the girl was his girlfriend or wife.

To me, hence, simplicity and the quiet fashion in which people go about their work holds a charm irresistible.

As they say – Expression Kills.

 

Pain

Pain

I have often thought and said that pain helps the spark of creativity in us and helps us cross the threshold that otherwise restricts us. I saw Rockstar yesterday and the question rose again. Is pain the only way to produce your best work, creativity wise?
I think it has to do with intense emotions. Any intense emotion, if channeled, can help a creator come up with an inspired creation. If we accept this hypothesis, then the next question comes – why are all our best works a product of a period of suffering?
There can be two reasons for that. I have personally felt that both of them go hand in hand.
First: Pain is the easiest emotion to channel. Compare it witb joy, excitement, success, love… all intense but happy emotions. These emotions have becone occassions to celebrate. And with the passage of time, we have learnt to take them in our stride. Shelf them. And aspire for more. There is no contentment with achievement of these emotions. Rather, they serve as a push to gun for more. Why stop now, when i can go another mile?
Pain stops us on our feet. Forces us to think and change the course that we have been moving along on merrily thus far. It is often this stimulus that guides the work of creativity. It becomes easy to give up all the other things that might be going on and focus on just one thing that really matters. Which is the creation of a creator. This singlemindedness propels the work of art to a personal genius. It comes from the deepest part in us, comes from our soul.
Second: when nothing else matters, the sense of fear on being judged for the work goes away. The creator stops caring for the opinions of the world. This goes hand in hand with the first point to help create the singlemindedness of utmost devotion to the work at hand.

The work, thus created, is undoubtedly the best you’ll ever do. And a creator longs for pain. Masochism, is a common trait in all creative people… for the love of art, they’ll suffer. Because that is the most important thing in theit lives.

I am sure my thoughts on this are not exhaustive. I welcome any comments or suggestions on this. Would like to understand it better myself.

Of Heart and Mind

Of Heart and Mind

Tired and fatigued by all the ramblings of his sundry heart, no one to share them with and feeling after a very long the inadequacy of his mind, Kasper decided to pen his thoughts into the pensieve that this blog seems to have become.

Men are organizations. And like each organization, each Man has many departments for different purposes. This is a story about two of the most critical departments in Men. The department of Heart, which is also sometimes called Instinct or Subconscious depending which school of thought did the Man in question attend. This department is the first point of interpretation of external events and how they affect the Man. Another important department is the department of execution – Mind.

This is story of a particular Man who was known among other Men as Neo.

Heart is a keeper of so many feeling and emotions. There are processes at work there that even the smartest in Mind are unable to decipher. So it is the prerogative of the employees at the Heart to articulate some of the emotional jargon into a language that the employees at the Mind can understand. The honest and sometimes gullible employees at Heart, who know no deceit nor treachery tell the Mind people these secrets with a faith that they (the Mind people) can process them further. Oh, so naive can the Heart employees be sometimes.

Men at the Mind, though lagging the men at the Heart in terms of understanding and processing have a need to establish superiority in all matters. Even those that are under the purview of the heart. A Man finds it impossible to ‘move a muscle’ until the men at Mind allow. And this control over the physical manifestation of Man has deluded the Mind people to a degree that they are convinced of their superiority in the system.

The heart people are a frustrated lot at times. Though smarter and more capable than their peers at the department of Mind, their strengths are rendered useless because the processes at the Man require them to run all their observations through the mind. And the low processing ability and inefficiency of the men at Mind, causes a lot of data loss and huge lag in their understanding, interpreting the situation, planning the course of action and execution.

This domination of the department of Men has continued for ages and has become the norm. Until one organization decided to challenge this way of running things.