Saturday, September 20, 2008

The World Beyond

It was 3 am. Her bleary eyes were hooked on to the monitor. On screen the message read, “This game would take you beyond time into another dimension and nothing will be same again. To proceed, press Enter.” She thought for a second and pressed the key that read……PLAY HTRAE

The reaction was nothing of the sort she expected. Her Hollywood movies instinct had predicted that heavy winds will blow, there will be an earthquake and she would find herself on an unknown land. But the laboratory was still the same; gloomy and silent. And that silence was unnerving; and the wait too…

But what choice she had other than to play that game. It had the answer for mankind’s age old quest.

All this had started by a stupid question, what can be beyond life? Being a student of astrophysics, this had always perturbed her. She constantly irritated her mentor, Dr Banketu with this and their discussions one day had given rise to ‘Hypothesis HTRAE’.

But she never again thought about it and Dr Banketu took retirement. When last she met him, there was a mysterious twinkle in his eyes. He only said he was going to change this world and she had dismissed it as one of his whimsical prophesies.

And then it all came back. Dr Banketu had vanished. He was not kidnapped, killed or missing; he just vanished. It was certain that he had entered his lab but he never came back. His wife only knew that he was designing a strange game HTRAE, and he was going to test its final play.

Suddenly it all flashed back. Years back, on that night they had found their perfect answer to ‘what lies beyond life’. Dr Banketu had absolute faith in equilibrium of nature and he was explaining that everything in this world is balanced; Negative by positive, matter by anti- matter and so on.

She had jumped and exclaimed, Earth is balanced by anti-earth! They named it HTRAE hypothesis, spelling earth backwards. So exactly similar to our earth, there must be an earth that spins opposite, is made of anti matter and has an opposite life. When a person dies on earth, he just goes there. Probably this was what scriptures called, heaven or hell.

There old men are born who get younger and younger and then one day vanishes from anti-earth. They make re entry on the earth in one of the wombs. This completes the cycle of life. Both of them continued reciting Gita ‘I am neither created, nor destroyed.

HTRAE and EARTH cross each at certain points and these are the times when dead are seen walking. These are also the times when maximum ghost stories are born. Everything so perfectly fitted in the hypothesis HTRAE. They had even calculated the velocity an object needs to enter HTRAE.

These thoughts kept on coming to her mind while her eyes were fixed on changing waves of the monitor. That eerie silence was making her uneasy. Everything seemed to be so eternally quite that she felt time had stopped moving.

And then she felt a hand on her shoulder. “Welcome to HTRAE” Dr Banketu said.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Eternal err English August

As the days pass by, my appreciation of the eternal ‘English August’ keeps on increasing. It has been good twenty years when the novel was published, but not an iota has changed in the districts. I wonder when the trickle of trickle down theory will reach the interiors of India.

I got married recently. I know this, my colleagues in office know this and I doubt entire Bankura district knows this. So from all the corners I receive the query “Is your family staying with you?” Family, which family! I do not understand how I can create a ‘family’ after two months of marriage.

I have received official mail addressed to “The AS, IAS”. Well, well, well I am happy. There is The Himalayas, The Ganges and to and to give competition to all there is ‘The AS’.

I live in a palatial circuit house. Bathrooms here are almost equal to the room size. And there are some co-inhabitants too. At least eight lizards live in my room and the count is still on. Everyday my meal becomes a little spicier because of the 5-6 ants that mistake my daal for their swimming pool. You see, I live in perfect harmony with nature.

For those of us who have lived in cities, rural India presents a completely different picture and you have to live it to believe it. Add to that a different language and a different cultural milieu and that leaves me pondering if I actually know India.

Reading ‘digital divide’ in newspapers is one thing and feeling it on the ground another. I have to go to 50kms to another district to watch a decent movie in a mall. It was hard for me to explain to my driver what internet is and his sole idea of internet is examination results.

Otherwise Bankura is a beautiful and different place. Here bicycles outnumber the automobiles by many times. For the first time I have seen saree as a school dress and girls as small as in class sixth wear sarees. The taste of Rosogulla is beyond words and even other sweets are way better.

The natural beauty of the district is very good. In case you want to see some pictures of Bishnupur in Bankura, you can see them here.