The Present

What not had Martha and Robert thought of doing with the twenty-five thousand dollars that they were supposed to win at the state lottery.

“Not all birthdays bring luck, eh Robert?”

“It’s not like that dear, you know how much I love you and how much George would have loved you if he was here.”

“Oh Robert how great it would have been if I just got some news as to where our son was, it’s almost five years now that he has been missing. It would have probably been the best gift ever for my birthday.”

Saying this Martha got busy with her household chores. Just then the doorbell rang. Robert opened the door to find a man in a black coat and a black hat.

“Is this the house of Robert and Martha McCarthy?”

“Yes”, said Martha leaving her work and crawling up to the door with Robert.

“Good Morning, I am Mr. Jones Revere, the supervisor of the company where your son used to work. With great sadness, I am here to convey that your son George McCarthy had passed away two days ago in an accident at the industry. He was a brilliant young fellow, who lost his life in the line of work. I am here to deliver you his stuff and this sum of twenty-five thousand dollars which he was saving for you.”

 

 

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An innocent wish.

That was the last chapter of another fairy tale.

“Mommy, tomorrow you have got to read me Snow White again”.

”Ok dear”, saying this Dr. Lam smiled and kept the book on top of a dozen other books that she was going through day and night these days. A tear dripped from her eye, how was she ever going to explain the complications of cancer to her 5-year-old daughter.

“Don’t worry mommy, if I die I’ll be with daddy, or I’ll be with you, I love you both equally.”

The darkness of the night engulfed the dreams.

The Woman.

I looked back to have a last glance at her. There she was, standing and waving her hands. Little did she wanted to tell me that her best companion for all her little thing  was going away and how she wanted me to stay. All she said was take care in the new city. How I wished I knew that all her fuss about my schooling and education were her means of getting close to me. As the smoke curled up the sky and the train gained motion I understood a broken heart was more painful than a broken bone.

A God

To this dark and cruel world

 I want to say

To make me a man

She kept her tears at bay

I saw the woman from my birth

And I could never be of her worth

She embraced me whenever I cried

Oh mother believe me I really tried

She trusts me more than I can

She said son just be a good man

I tried to find God in land and seas

But all my life she was standing right in front of me.

 

To find one of the man-made or our self-defined version of God we spend no matter how many days in our lives. We believe that there may be a miracle if we see the Holy Spirit. But let’s take a timeout here and ask ourselves, what then? When we have seen the actual God. The supreme who has created us, what will we say? What will we do?

This takes me back to my old days when I was a kid and used to think that if God was everywhere why can’t I see him. Have I done something bad? Something that might have angered him. Growing in an Indian society my belief in the Santa Clause was not as long-lived as my belief in God. In other words, it was immediately after a few years that I understood that Santa was not meant for the Indian kids. The modified Indian version of Christmas would be that if you sleep early you won’t get the gift on your back. Which really hurts a lot as a kid.

Now after so many years when I am finally getting some me time I sit down and ponder upon the question. God. Hmm, what to ask? How are you? Or maybe why he didn’t come to see me all these years? It was one of these days that I realized that I had actually been with one since so many years. The only problem, I never respected her as much as she deserves.

Nine months she carried me, pain being her constant companion. A good serviceman to the nation doesn’t allow you to be a good husband. Not a word. Only the pillows knew how dark the days were and how lonely the nights were. I still remember the way she was frightened when I banged my head against a swing and was unconscious for a few hours. It was as if with every passing minute she was saying take my life if you want but please save him.  A shadow constantly lured around me whenever I went out. She was there. She knew I needed her, to make friends, to learn how to ride a bicycle, to play the Pokémon card game, to watch TV, to have a good night dream. She knew, even without me saying.

I grew up. It was a rapid change for her. She was so busy to make my life perfect with friends and companion that she forgot that even she had to make friends. Maybe the worst part of me growing was losing the only companion she had since her marriage. Now who would listen to all the petty fights she has with father, why the maid took an extra day off, and how the local grocery store tricked her and charged her an extra 10 rupees.

I still think how can someone as simple and foolish as her had the strength to pull such an act of valor for the past two decades. How the once lonely fool got lonely again. How she accepts life no matter whatever it throws at her. How even when she is sick she prays for the good health for the family.

Miracle? No. God? Neither. Just a regular mother. Someone who is happy when I am happy, sad when I am sad. Ready to accept me even if I am a failure. Ready to give her life for me without thinking twice. Someone just by being herself taught me something which education failed.

How to love without a reason. How to care without being cared. How to give without thinking of the returns. I don’t know if I will ever get the chance to meet God, but if I do I will thank him for sending me a substitute.

 

The Jump

“You call this a paper. There is hardly any informative part here.”

“But, sir the work on the quantum physics and the property of matter especially the behavior of the cells are explained here which were explained very vaguely in all the previous version. It took me years of hard work sir to get to this.”

“This is nothing but a waste of time. I am sorry but this is not done. I have given you time and this is what you produce. Utter rubbish.”

“Sir, please don’t say that. It’s my life’s work.”

“I don’t care.”

“Sir, the institution already didn’t pay me for the last month, I was starving still I used all the money I had in the research, please sir reconsider my paper.”

“Not this time son. Not anymore.”

Saying this the guide along with the head of the dep. went away. All that was left for Stalling was to go to his room throw away his life’s work and start all over again. It was the toughest evening he spent he was hungry, depressed and demotivated. No one ever treated him with respect, or ever loved him. Not even his parents. He thought this work would be the ultimatum that would change his life. But no. No one ever understood him, his thoughts, his action, and his poems. It was just a cold and lonely planet for him.

That night he set up his mind. He was all done with his life. He tore down his entire research to bits and went to his balcony. He was holding on to a piece of paper, which contained a poem that he had once written.

Oh like the clouds in the sky

Someday I wish I could also fly

My childhoods a waste and my youth too

All my life I was told I couldn’t do

When dawn finally came it was too late

I had already accepted my fate

The tears that fall also dry

My dear friend, good-bye.

Holding on to this paper he closed his eyes and jumped from the 15th floor of the hostel building. Normally the drop takes less than a few second but Stalling was falling and falling. He opened his eyes to see that he was falling through different dimensions. This terrified him. After falling for some time he stopped just an inch before hitting the ground and then finally hit the ground.

“Oh dear. Looks like I made a mistake.”

“Who are you? Where am I? What just happened? ”

“It’s ok. No need to worry, you are safe. I am Prof Malcolm. I am a time traveler, and look like you just fell in a time hole which I had opened by mistake.”

“Time traveler? What do you mean? “

“Umm in an easy word, a person who can walk through the different time dimensions that are there.”

“Boy, which year did you come from? 1933?”

“2019”

“2019. it’s clear you made a time jump. Care to explain why?”

“Time jump?”

“Yes meaning jumping from a very high place to a certain portal that only I can create and destroy. Helps me to travel in space-time. So why did you jump from a high altitude?”

“Suicide, sir. Suicide. I couldn’t take the pain anymore”

“Ahh well, that good. You see when you leave your space in a timeline that timeline disappears and a new timeline is created. So now even if you wanted to go back you couldn’t, well not to the same timeline, but at the same date same time just a different timeline.”

“That’s rude.”

“Son when you are stuck in time for decades you get devoid of all your feelings.”

“Why can’t you go back?”

“Because I don’t want to. That world didn’t respect put my ideas to dirt, and told I was useless.”

“Same here sir.”

“Good, and now we are stuck in time.”

“Sir how did you make this. I thought time travel was impossible.”

“Well you see I wasn’t always here I was working with a physics who actually helped me in a lot of ways when I failed the first time. He took me helped me up and then we started working on a machine that would create a small amount of energy to power a room. Obviously, the experiment went wrong and we opened a portal. A small portal that sustained itself for minutes. I got sucked in and got stuck in time. Now don’t ask for details I will not sit and explain. It’s a big and lengthy one. ”

“Well I also have failed sir and failed horribly, but I don’t know why no one takes me seriously. I try and try but there is no one.”

“Well see if you want to be serious first you need to accept your failures, you can’t always be expecting someone to win. The person who is at the top of the world today will slowly age off and others will take their place.”

“So you mean to say, to grow something you need to have a passion instead of thinking about the result.”

“Think about a tree. A small seed, grows to be a plant, it gets threatened by animals, children, but still grows, even when its leaves are eaten or the branches are broken it grows, and when it has finally grown it gives shades to the human on a hot summer afternoon, shelter birds, stand straight during a storm. It doesn’t give up. ”

“You are right. I made a hasty decision. But there no one wants to talk to me. No one understands me. They all hate me.”

“Just love yourself. If you are good you don’t need their approval.”

“Sir what did you say about going back? It would be a different timeline? What does that mean?”

“It means that there the things will change, and as for you since you have already broken your continuum in your timeline, you may incur some memory loss also.”

“Sir How to do it? I want to do it. I want to go back and prove those people wrong.”

“Well then let’s go to your hostel’s 15th floor and you do a jump from there. I’ll open the portal.”

Both of them went to the hostel room where it all stated and Stalling thanked the prof for this moral support. It was almost time for Stalling to jump again. The prof struck his head out and told him don’t make the mistakes that I did. Saying this he smiled and pushed him down. Stalling was trying to figure out what it means when he saw the prof change his age and there he saw, himself staring smiling and waving him goodbye.

Stalling opened his eyes the next day to find himself lying in the hospital bed his head wrapped in bandage and some serious pain in his back. The doc said, “Ahh finally, what on earth were you doing? You should be more careful on the wet floor.”

“What happened doctor?”

“You slipped in your room and banged your head against a chair, and got wounded. Pratap found you lying in a pool of blood and brought you to the hospital. Had he been a few more hours late. You would have been dead for good. ”

“Hey Stalling, your paper finally got selected in International Journal of Physics and Astronomy, isn’t that great news.”

 

A short notice

I noticed that a one-month long sem break might sound interesting to all but in actual all the excitement ends after the first few days. I was also a victim of this absolute loss of work. Since it was after my first sem and I had a pretty long list of to do things I thought I need not worry about the rest. I wasn’t accustomed to the way our parents treat us when we don’t stay at home for a long time. So my entire list which I had planned to do that entire winter got over within the first week due to the new liberty rules applied by the supreme court of my house.

I started to goofing off my time and it wasn’t long when it occurred to me about one very special person who used to live with us. Maybe it was because of his long work hours in the office and my stupid tuitions and school that I hardly had a scope to know about this person. Yes, it was my dad, and I know it’s a bit late but umm, better late than never.

It was on the second week that I first saw the man properly after ages getting dressed up, in the same old clothes, brushing his hairs and sitting at the table to have his breakfast. Eating up a simple diet. I happen to have a glimpse in the kitchen to see what tiffin my mom was packing him. It was simple, four pieces of bread, a banana, and some sweets. I asked mom to confirm my doubt. Yup, that was his lunch.

I followed him for the next few days only to find out that his lunch consisted of puffed rice and sugar, four pieces of bread and butter, some more of puffed rice, sweets and someday fruits. I was so amazed. Here I was whining all day about my lunch and dinner and here is this man having even as simple as fruits for his lunch. That was all the juice he needed to run for the 8 hours in his office.

So here he was a person who went on with the same shits for years saying to himself that he doesn’t need a new shirt this time and would buy me an extra pair of pants, but would celebrate and enjoy like a child when my mom would buy him a lungi. Would eat puffed rice and bread for lunch and say it’s such a delicacy to have these for lunch, yet every time a swiggy or zomato delivery boy arrived with a parcel my dad would be the first one to wash his hands and sit at the table. All that he ever asks me is to study properly. No scolding for late night entry, no fuss with a movie even if it twice a month. Just simple math.

When I came back that sem to continue on my studied I was actually confused. I owed so much to him which I am sure I can’t pay back. I spent so much here still there is never an if or but from my father. He is always there like a pillar, a guiding mechanism, a moral support, everything that I can never be myself alone. Dad, I know that you deserved a much better son than me, but honestly dad that son would never love you the way I do.

Life.

All we ever want is a friend who would genuinely appreciate us for what we are, all we ever get are people so full of themselves that they only talk when they need us. I read somewhere that friendship is a bond that never dies and even if we don’t talk with them for years and then suddenly send them a text they revert back as if it was yesterday that we had a barbequed dinner in the backyard. But never will they ever ask how you are. Strange such remains only as stories.

Happy endings. It’s a bad joke. A lie. There are no such phrases in the life of a mature person. All that one gets in life is lucky. Lucky to have a qualification that they can place after their names, a job to hang around their neck and finally money to declare peace. But really is this why we came to earth. To get lucky and then die.  Most of have no stories, no reason to live, anxiety, no plan.

The four walls at our home know more stories about us than we can ever tell. The sleepless nights before results, the hungry nights during the month’s end, the painful days when we don’t get due credit for what we have done. Still, we never tell all these because we know even the listener to our story has the same set of problems.

Nobody is perfect, nobody is rich, we are all poor in our own ways. Yet we don’t want to help each other. Imagine living in a world where we all start helping each other, have dinner under the stars with our dear and close ones among nature, plant more trees and just sit an relax knowing that tomorrow will be a much better day than today. Wouldn’t that be the real reason why we exist?