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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

And all that we leave behind...

The time is many years earlier...

A story of our forefathers and the spirits that dwelt then.

The world was changing. We had moved into the race to reach the stars. We settled for the moon.

The astronauts were prepping to launch. Their shuttle took off. They crossed the atmosphere. And they were hurtling towards the moon. And yet, it seemed so far away.
Their country had spent enormous amounts of money to get this shuttle to reach the moon. Sending chimps, dogs and birds just wasn't enough. Man had to get there first before his neighbor reached. He had to be the first. He had to leave his home and family behind and risk it all. These were the chosen ones. This was their mission. This was their goal. This was their life. They had trained for a long time to get here. Now, they had to just reach there and prove to the world that we were a super power. We were the best. We were the first. We had all the power. And we wanted all the glory. We were a developed country. We had all the tech. We had all the resources.

Somewhere deep in space, things were quiet as the two astronauts were waiting with bated breath. And out of nowhere, the darkness enveloped them. Things just went silent. And dark. Very dark. It took them some seconds to realize they had lost all power and they were now drifting. Life support wouldn't be able to take care of them for so long. They tried their best. There was no communication going in and nothing went out. Just space and them floating in it.
On the ground, they realized, something was wrong and they had lost all feeds. There was no word. No signal. The astronauts had vanished.
Inside, they realized, it was a matter of time, they would be gasping for breath. It was getting hot and stuffy. They needed to conserve their oxygen. And they were feeling drowsy and so sleepy. Sleep was beckoning. They couldn't give in. They had to stay awake.

He finds himself in a cold dark room now. No one is there. And it doesn't even seem he is on the shuttle. He gets up. Walks out. He can't recognize the hospital. He can't recognize anyone. And everyone passes by as if he was a stranger. He waits patiently at the nurses station but it seems so crowded. Then he chances upon the date. It is 30 years in the future. Is this an idea of some one at the base playing a joke on him. Well, he had to get home to his lovely wife. He didn't care what the writing on the wall said.
He steps out. The cars look different. The people are dressed differently. He can't recognize any of the shops and the street names appear so different. The roads are so crowded. People talk to themselves in devices that they hold near their ears. It is all so confusing. His head is beginning to hurt. He needs to lie down. It is too much to take in. He has to get home.

He manages to climb on a bus and he gets down at his porch. The house is still there. It looks old. But there seems to be life. The light is on in the window. He moves to the door and opens it. The neighbors look so old. He wonders about his beautiful, young wife he had left behind. She must be looking like an old crow now. He shudders. He shouldn't have such dreadful thoughts. He looks so young. He hasn't aged a day. He appears just as he was when he left. Yet time seems to have moved on.

He enters in and lo, behold is his wife. She appears so young. Just the way he had left her. She welcomes him. They hug each other. They weep. He can't explain how is she still the same. It seems like a dream. But her touch seems so real. She tells him that he has a beautiful daughter. They sit for supper. They have a family meal.
He has to sleep now. He feels so weary. So tired. He crashes on his bed. His wife lays next to him.

In the middle of the night he hears sounds of sobbing. Sounds of weeping. Sounds of a woman crying. His wife is nowhere to be seen. He goes down. He finds his daughter closing the door. She is moving away from the house and she has tears in her eyes. He follows her. They walk for some time.
And she stops, bends downs and weeps again. She is sitting on a rock.

He moves ahead to see why. Something isn't right. Something doesn't make sense. It can't be. It appears all wrong. He has to move away. A voice behind him whispers. It is his wife. She is beckoning him. He moves towards her.
There are two tombstones. One for both of them. His name is on it. The date is 30 years back. His wife has the same date on her stone too. Does it mean. He is dead. Then what about his wife. Is she dead too. What was this. And his daughter. He reaches out to her. She is crying. He wants to console her. A void pulls him back. And hears a voice... It is his fellow astronaut...and now his voice seems clear...

"We are all living in a ghost story"

And we await and pray for all...

...and all that we leave behind...


I was supposed to travel to Mangalore. I took a train and got down at the train station and was wondering what to do next. I needed to take a bus to my destination. I didn't know the regional language. English didn't work much and I didn't know the route. I managed to ask directions and they didn't understand me as much as I didn't understand them.

I got a bus that appeared to be going in that direction. Got a seat near the driver. It was a parallel seat with place for 6 or more people. A kind lady offered me the seat next to her. There were 5 people sitting and it could accommodate me in.

I looked around and I was like a foreigner in my own native. The women and the men were staring at this guy who is sitting so lost here in the front. I tried telling the conductor the destination I needed to go and I shot 3 different names hoping that at least one would get me where I wanted to go. That seemed to confuse him more and it seemed that I was booking tickets for three different people going to three different destinations. I decided to settle with the name that appeared more familiar with him and I thought I would see what to do from there. The ticket clicked. I sat quietly for the remainder of the bus. Looked at Google Maps and got a fair idea I was moving in the right direction but I didn't know the exact stop to get down. And the bus stops are too far as this was an express bus that stopped at limited stops. So, if i did get down at the wrong stop, it would mean a very long walk in a direction that i wasn't quite sure and it could really get me lost. On top of it, the bus conductors have the habit of shouting out the destination and the major stops. So I used to jump up every time thinking my destination has come. But in fact, it was where the bus was supposed to go and the stop was supposedly to be 30 kms away.

Sat for another half an hour and decided to do what I do best. Observe. Talking with the conductor didn't seem to make much headway as I didn't speak Kannada and he didn't understand Konkanni too well. The bus that I was travelling had two entrances. People kept pouring in from both ends and shouting out the place they wanted to go to. It was extremely confusing at first. A parallel seat facing the driver that seated 6 or more people. And then the normal seating arrangement of the first three rows reserved for ladies behind the driver. There was a massive engine with some parcels and boxes.

Normally, drivers accept the parcels to be delivered to a particular stop. The parcels are nicely wrapped in tape with the address sitting clearly on the top. And now there was just one box left on the engine. It was shapeless but I could read it.
My eyes gleamed suddenly as I realized the last part of the address was the exact stop where I had to get down. I read the top part. It was a printed slip. The first part of the address was to some shop. The building name below it seemed familiar. My eyes jumped out, it was the exact same building I was to go. What a stroke of luck. The conductor after some time picked up the parcel and I felt he was actually picking my hand to guide me the way.
He saw me eyeing the parcel and wondered what was going on in my head. He readied to give the parcel. The bus slowed. I shot out like a cat from the bag. I got down and right in front of me was the building I had to go to. Coincidence. Maybe.

My family was waiting for me. It was a reunion of sorts. I had not seen any of these uncles and aunts, their children ever. It was the first time that I would be meeting this set of relatives. And it was a joyous reunion of sorts. Later my mum tells me that it was a coincidence some relatives turned up as my mum herself was able to invite a limited set of relatives as she didn't know the exact address of all of them and neither did she have all of their contact numbers. The one's who came along were told by word of mouth by other relatives. And they had happened to be all together at the church after mass and the word spread and they all came home. They had been waiting for me and they hadn't even started when I reached.
I didn't know the language. I didn't know the area. I didn't know the way. I must have had an angel guiding me. And if it wasn't for a plain old parcel with the exact same address of my destination maybe I would reached someplace else and be absolutely lost. This incident happened around eight years back roughly and I had my Nokia N 73 ME which wasn't even a smart phone like the one's we have these days. The distance traveled by me in that bus alone was more than 30 kms.
It turned out to be a tiring journey but a joyous reunion which was more unexpected as I didn't know that we had invited so many relatives and their families. It lasted an entire week. And maybe, that is for some other day. I hope to write more and write soon.

Or was it more...

Catch the ghost story that comes up next in an unrelated event to me...