Monday, January 11, 2016

The Booth

I observed him carefully as he walked to the door. I knew that time was running out but suppressed the urge to check my watch. I took a deep breath and started counting in reverse under my breath. 

"Ten, nine, eight, seven... what do we do now? “He is looking for us,” I whispered to her. “In no time he will be onto our door… and what if he messes up with the booth? What will happen to us…?” I stopped mid-way trying to hold her who just fainted in my arms. The ten seconds were over and the booth was accessed. First she fainted and then I went all getting dizzy and giddy.  

I believe the history that is known to the human-kind, isn’t accurate. There is more to that than just finding facts and writing it; there are the main leads, whom the world knows, then there are the supporters, who supports the lead. There is also a special team, which tries to fit the happening as per the written history; be it five thousand years back.   

Ria, was five years younger to me. My parents said, which I believed incredulously, that she was my birthday present, since we shared the same birthdates. She wasn’t a normal kid, she had big brown owl-like eyes which periodically were dug into pages of unfathomable Math-Science books. She wanted to make friends but couldn’t dare to approach and no one approached her taking her to be a weirdo, leaving her with me as her only and best friend.    

The feeling of being at home was a little different for both of us as unlike other children, we only had our father to us. Our mother couldn’t make it after Ria’s birth, the sole reason for my father to hate Ria. Post mother’s death, dad, albeit, didn’t get another wife for him and a step mother for us but got us an array of tantrums thrown at us post his one-bottle-down inebriated state. Our Grandparents brought us up, especially our grandmother, as grandfather also believed in on the misfortune brought upon our family by Ria, and hence loathed her. Poor Ria, could never reckon what was that she had done wrong, and often, would open up in my arms weeping her eyes out for the day-to-day injustice done to her. “Am I really that bad? What have I done so bad to face such brunt of loveless upbringing?” All I could say, to soothe her, was that I loved her the most in the world and would do anything to protect her, but I was as timid as a rat and couldn’t stop the atrocities done against her.  
When Ria turned thirteen, one month later, our grandparents expired due of an accident on their pilgrimage. It furthermore pushed Ria into a corner of the house making a deep bond with her books. She was much ahead of me and even my seniors in terms of theoretical knowledge and its applications. I, often, would take her help to solve Mathematical problems. The school, with special request and permissions got her eligible for class 12th-Science at the mere age of fourteen; which she aced. I knew she could have even aced class 15th!, after all she was our school’s super kid.  
“They all are using you, don’t you see that?” I asked. I always felt bad that she only had phonies around her who, only for their academic gains, would approach her and then, forget her. “I know! At least this way I get someone to talk to other than you, and for how long can one take your ceaseless boring lectures.” She would always mock making some excuses. I could feel, past her appearance she was very lonely and broken.   

When I moved out, to pursue MBA, at 21, to a different city, she had also graduated in Mathematics and Physics; only at 16. Time and situation got us closer and we knew each and everything about each other. I had also taken-up self-defense classes to protect her from the world. I made myself strong; stronger!    

We got each other’s back: she helped me with academics and I didn’t let her feel alone and left out.  
Ria, meanwhile, had started blogging on various applications and theories of sciences. As fate had it, she got her hard work payed of, firstly, by the monetization of her blog and secondly, by selling it to a publisher. Before I could even grab a job she had become a multi-millionaire. Nothing about which was broken to our drunkard dad, who, after the loss of his parents, had stopped working also. He pampered me as much as he hated her. Thus, he never took any interests in her achievements and never interfered in her life.  
As a netizen: incessantly blogging and reading others’ blog Ria had come across a special blog of a secret team written in mind-twisting riddles, which Ria deciphered and fell for its very existence. She searched a few websites regarding the same and enrolled for it, only to know that it was some 2000 odd kilometers and a trek of four days away.  

I got placed as a sales trainee in a big organization post MBA. It was over two years and six months that I was working for this organization, uninterested, trying to hit some irrational targets set by my boss just to have my pockets filled. Over these years, I got so engrossed in the work that I couldn’t give much time to Ria, who had now became a self-sufficient, well know blogger-cum-author. She had left home, for which my father didn’t mind at all, and was putting up on the outskirts of Gangtok, Sikkim. She would do her writing business from there and would earn her livelihood. We both were doing well in life as oppose to our father who had become his own nemesis.   

I had not met Ria, for over two years, after that trek which she took in search of something, reading from an anonymous blog. She had turned spiritual; joined a fraternity of a few Buddhists monks, deep into the woods of Kangchenjunga, practicing tantrism in a lair. Ever since she stepped out, she never returned; not even on our birthdays. I implored her to come, but she would gently decline it; even I couldn’t go visit her as I had to look after father.   

“These are his last days… you got to be home ASAP!” I set a ruse, partly true, to call her back home under the pretext of father’s inability to make it any further because of his ever deteriorating health. His health was deteriorating due to incessant drinking habits but he wasn’t going anywhere, at least not this sooner. Ria, had always wanted to get his attention and love and was ready to go to any extent to please him. I knew only this news could get her. The ruse hit the bull’seye. Ria, initially furious and later thawed, was happy to see me and heartbroken to the unfazed hatred showered from her father. She was nothing like before except for her big eyes, now behind big spectacles. She had turned into a big, beautiful woman with hilly weather glistening her skin and slope making her slender. Now, that I had hold of her I pushed and probed her to the extent to which she disclosed all her secrets. 

‘What...? That’s impossible!” was my first response to her. After a lot of negation and persuasion and also by being piqued rightly, she said, “I’m breaking many rules by involving you into this. It’s a matter of life and death and not a child’s play. We over there correct history. One can assume a body of any living being in the history, mostly animals, and control their minds to set the wrong right. One can, whilst on a travel, can have the vision to look back at our booths as well.”    

“Who gave you all the permission to do all these and why do you all think the history needs to be corrected. Just let it flow like a wild river.”  

“A man is his own nemesis; if not corrected then humans won’t exist; you and I wouldn’t exist. Evil would have triumphed and the Good ones would have long gone without any trace in the history. I had read about it only until I stumbled upon that blog that day, deciphered it and took that trek to change my life, forever! Worry not brother, it is an ancient practice, done in a secret group spread across the globe, across the time zones and your sister is a proud member of it.” She said winking at me.   

“How do you judge who is evil and who is not.” I asked incredulously.  

“We go back in time, study who is closest to that particular subject and incarnate ourselves into that subject. Mostly, these subjects are their pets… and set the events as per our speculated written-history.”   

I persuaded her to show me, to which she reluctantly agreed. She made me make a promise of its secrecy until I die. I readily accepted.   

Meanwhile, father’s health was getting worse and he needed someone to manhandle him. Poor Ria, did all his chores only to get more hatred spewed over her.  It took us 9 days to build the whole setup; we called it ‘Booth’ as it looked like one. She had warned me that no one needs to disturb the booth once we were teleported or else would get stuck with our bodies in the booth lying lifeless. Taking father’s immobility for granted, we teleported ourselves.   
The feel of seeing my soul teleport, travel at a speed through a space of varied colors with no air, pressure, senses working; leaving a feast, for the eyes, of these vibrant colors heaving and passing by and reaching the destination in a fraction of second. My first time travel with my sister was to the era of King Akbar, incarnating in his Macaws. We were freely flying in his humongous palace, I was so electrified to see this era. Humans were so different then. Their dress sense, the language, the food and almost everything was different.   

Ria, was happy to see me so amazed and awe-struck with this kind of sorcery, but little did I know that time travelling was an uncomprehending science. She flew me through the markets, cities and the forest. We saw the real Akbar, Birbal and many others. The beautiful queen Jodha, captivated me by her beauty. We spent a happy weekend there and got back home in our real avatars.   
We kept taking such weekend-vacations across different eras embracing the real history.  

One Saturday, we had teleported to 16th December, 1773 to attend The Boston Tea Party. Ria in a cat and I in a dog, happily wagging my tail. “We run through a strict code of conduct.” Ria told me with a stern face when I asked her for how to make the booth and set the exact time. “I’ve already broken a lot of rules for you. I can’t break anymore. It’s not just the happy vacations that we take; we do some serious work. We match history.”   

“Rather than watching and correcting it, why don’t you just tell the historians about the real facts?”  
“Rules! We can’t let anyone use these powers. Humans are full of greed and you can’t imagine the amount of damage caused to the world if it falls in the wrong hands.”   
“…hmmm, so, what have you-all done?”   

“We have helped King Akbar; a colleague of mine was into one of his parrots, perched on his shoulder, in a public rally, took an arrow dipped in poison, coming from an ambushed attack, for the King. Hence, Akbar loves Parrots the most. Another colleague got into Chetak, the famous horse of Maharana Pratap, who saved him on the battlefield when wounded. A few have met and shown the right paths to the eminent scientists and inventors such as Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein and more. I was Cleopatra’s favorite cat and persuaded her to minimize the massacre.”    “…and what about the common people?”  

“We do cater to them as well. They just thank their fortune or their gods. Humans!” As we were enjoying the Boston Tea Party, I saw a vision of my father approaching our room to seek for some help. I looked at my watch on the bed, to fathom why he was approaching. Unlocking the door only to see us lying lifeless there in the booth, he ran towards me and disturbed the whole system leaving both of us stuck in 1773.    

Thinking we’re dead, aghast with heavy heart, he called for relatives and for the last rites to be performed. We had only seven days to return into our bodies before being burnt into ashes. Now, our souls were neither in our body nor in the animals’. I panicked!  

Ria, as always, knew all the hacks. She arranged for a co-traveler from Sikkim through telepathy, which I was not aware of hitherto. That guy, an expert, angry with Ria, took around 6 days to build a booth in 1773. Fortunately, for us, we managed to get back into our bodies before being burnt. Thousands of questions were raised to as when and how it happened. I said we did drugs.  

Ria had to face the brunt of curses and accuses for trying to killing me also. Once, when everything was sorted within the family, she was left with nowhere to go as she had broken the rules and was banished from the fraternity.  

 “You will have to do this for me? I beseeched this of you. I’ve had enough and can’t take it anymore.” Ria implored for the unthinkable with those big brown eyes, looking at me expectantly, fully moist.   

We agreed upon a lair and built a booth. She left to incarnate in a parrot, forever, of an one-eye-patched-pirate, captain of a ship, in Middle-east Asia in 7th century who loved his parrot more than his loot.  

I was heartbroken but promised to protect her lair forever. I didn’t stop her from leaving me, forever, as she had lost everything in her life, lived a loveless life. The fraternity has also banished her. I let her go only to start it afresh, be it in any form.  One month later I was brooding over whether today, the history that we study, the mind-boggling twists and turns in the past which gets us agape, the fortunate things that we come across, some good-signs that we see and believe could be a part of science. We never know who is playing it for us, we must keep our eyes and ears open; signals are coming. They’re everywhere. Are they whom we call gods? I told myself, “Always remember there is a secret team!”     

-Sagar Ghadge

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