Forenote: Booksie just spoiled my format and the cuts for time frame differences. So, I was compelled to add annoying horizontal lines amid paragraphs to signify paragraph breaks and transformation/progression of time frames...
A DREAM WORTH DREAMT
‘This, this is something truly magnificent. Oh my God! This is a (ees-a) breakthrough (bbra-ik-throo) in Physics! This could make a revolution!’ he said, holding the bundle of papers laden with scribbling, ‘The String Theory! Hmmm.’ He mouthed each and every word distinctly. The. String. Theory.
‘Rackson! Mr. Rackson!’
A momentary pause; Mr. Rackson waited to get called again in order to confirm that he was actually been called, and that it was not the voice from his head.
‘Mr. Rackson!’ Awakened by the successive auditory input, he turned a 180°. A clumsy, non-gallant turn.
‘Mr. Rackson. I, ah, ha,’ he couldn’t find single appropriate word in the vastness of English to avail on this occasion, amid his hoarse half-laugh (laughs and pants; almost as that of a donkey’s unchained brays), ‘you, do you even realize (ree’-a-laise) how significant, oh my, a discovery (disc-v-ri) you’ve made?’ his hands made irregular, rapid and coarse patterns in air, as if dramatically catching air and stuffing it into some peculiar shape. Air pattern! New type of art!
The pattern assumed the structure of a dinosaur. No, it’s some magic dust. Then, it just…trailed off.
‘Err, what?’ A definitely startled, feminine voice. He said looking at the melodramatic hands before him. It was red. Bleeding? Drip drop! Drip drop! Your hands…
‘I, I am speaking about The String Theory (thee’-o-ree)!’ Supplying stress, predominantly unnecessarily, at some parts of a sentence is his occupation, when excited. The hand that spilled blood looked regular; no traces of any puncture whatsoever.
‘I, I don’t know.’ A show of inarticulateness.
‘Ah! Haha, you’re funny, sir!’
How am I funny? I don’t know!
‘This String Theory is, yours is, such a (sa-chchchcha) breakthrough. I can vouch for that! You need to apply for patent (pay-tent), sir. It is really-’
‘I, I really don’t know,’ he said, with a crying intonation, (uncomfortably facing the other person), which was mistaken to be the natural disposition of his girly voice, ‘but, but I have to go.’ His voice went so uneasy. ‘I, I have to go.’
‘That, that’s ok sir. Please cool down,’ he said, understanding the tremble in his boss’ voice, ‘may I?’
‘I, I have to….go.’
I’ve to go. I… One of the pillars started to crack. The crack that zigzagged upwards forked into three separate banks and continued to spread. Run! The building’s going to tumble. Run! Facing his assistant, he shouted, ‘Run, Peter! Look the pillar has a crack over there! Run!’ Taking his fedora off, he started to run; a clumsy run – clumsier than his gait.
Peter just looked at the figure that was running at a tremendous pace towards the exit of this giant, long museum hallway. He scanned the pillar to spot any crack at all in vain. He regretted for having brought his boss to London Royal Museum. The rest of the whole population was walking leisurely, in and out; each one just minding their own business. Peter silently mouthed, ‘Crack?’ As he saw the papers on his hand, his annoyance faded; face brightened.
The Royal Society of Science is where every new patent is registered. Peter had filed his boss’ discovery and was waiting outside while the members were discussing the paper inside. Being bored, his mind meandered to different time-frames; he reminisced how he got in as Mr. Rackson’s assistant.
A paper advertisement that said, “Research Assistants Wanted. Eligibility: Major in Physics/Applied Sciences. Experience not necessary. Good pay assured. Contact in person: Address:…..”
He remembered it all exactly. He went to the old dilapidated house; an independent, dishevelled, filth-stricken, gloomy structure – as gloomy as the house in Adam’s Family. Attempting to press the calling bell, he noticed a paper with the words, “Applicants for job come directly to the backyard. Walk around the right side of the house.”
In that dim morning, the road – neat tarmac, lined on both the sides with walkways – was almost empty, save for few horse carriages and pedestrians; automobiles were but rare. Peter walked around the house taking into note every possible thing that his eyes can cover, planning to use those appearances to accessing the personality of the person. He always considered himself a person with sufficient psychological knowledge and psychoanalytic ability though he had not the shallowest of knowledge in that field. It is that he had been able to guess the likely reactions of certain people in certain situations correctly, a fewer times, that made him think so. That small seed (the self-belief) took roots and made him to bear its load; and he, too, bore the weight without considering that he’s carrying with him an unnecessary stuff – a wrong conviction!
The house is painted yellow. What a bad taste! The bottom of the walls played host to numerous floral population. There, leant on the wall, were a number of random things like a rusty bicycle (with a bent handle bar), a dirty motorbike engine, a hand drill, a torn out girl-doll, a toy jeep, chain belt drive, 4 pairs of pulleys each of different sizes, and innumerable screws, washers, nuts and bolts. In a word – unkempt.
He saw an old, dirty parking garage – it had a hay-shed, which convinced him to conclude so, though not a single vehicle stood there save for innumerable rusty mechanical components strewn everywhere. Peering ahead of these piles, he saw a rusty steel door (crumpled) at the right. Must be it! He entered the lockless door and saw a huge laboratory with different apparatuses. At the far left end of the place was a white board completely filled with some equations in all random alignments; the floor had a lot of papers scattered irregularly; also occupying the place were a few chest-level and many hip-level tables on which rested countless apparatuses such as glass-flasks, pipettes, burettes, pipes carrying coloured liquids, and so on.
He saw a person standing at the middle of the place, against a wall directly opposite the entry point like a hungry, encaged beast ready to catch the offered meat, staring at him without uttering a word. Realizing it, Peter observed, ‘For the job, sir.’
The researcher, donned in casual pyjamas and a hat—which almost made Peter laugh—just nodded, pointing to the nearest table where there were written instructions on the back of a paper. Motioning towards, and picking it up, he turned the paper only to witness some equations enclose his field of vision, all of which remained under a diagonal line across the whole page. Eyeing the researcher, still supressing his urge to laugh, he turned to the other side that he was supposed to see; scanning it all, he said, ‘I’m willing to work, sir.’
The instruction set had nothing but 3 rules:
1) You’re not supposed to unnecessarily poke your nose into my research unless I ask you to.
2) Your job will be to go to store and buy things, keep my lab tidy, help me in research if I ask you, and keep quiet when I’m thinking. (the “keep quiet” being underlined).
3) Don’t tell anyone about anything that happens here.
ARE YOU WILLING TO WORK? (In a much bigger font).
Perhaps, he was the only employer in the world who would not inquire any further; ask for no credentials, ask for no proofs, no GPA; never inquire and acquire knowledge over about the employee's personal details. He never asked Peter, or anyone else who worked for him previously about anything including the declared mandatory - masters in physics - which, too, he didn't even cross-check.
The first day, Peter, after arriving, saw a note stuck to the door. PETER: GET RESISTORS 10, 25 OHM. 25 ml PIPETTE. Peter wondered what field his boss is working in; rendered confused whether he is a chemist or a physicist. Or perhaps he dabbles in all the fields?
He entered and marched up to the scientist who was busy reading morning newspaper. The sudden apparition of human smell shifted Mr. Rackson’s focus from paper to the mounting human flesh. Peter’s face. His own flesh went awkward, like asking, ‘why are you here?’
‘Sir, I, I mean, I got no penny.’
A nod and a short pause. He, then, nodded again, again, again and again, until Peter feared that the man’s head would become permanently dysfunctional. Mr. Rackson throwing the paper on the floor, like a careless, untidy child, got up; without saying anything, walked towards the exit. Befuddled as he was, Peter decided to just follow tacitly.
Setting the fedora properly on his head which helped him obscure his undone hair (though he never pays attention to it), and still in his pink-stripped pyjamas, he executed his way out in an awkward gait; not even turning to see if Peter is following.
Birds. Birds of random features. Flying in the sky. What a pretty sight! All of a sudden, they screeched in unison; and lost sensing their wings. They couldn’t feel wings! Their flight muscles ached; burned. All the wings caught fire. One of The Baby Pigeon saw him and tears trickled down its eyes. “We’re all going to die,” it said. Then, they started falling rapidly in magnificent amounts. Innumerable and unprecedented. Right in the middle of the road.
‘No! No! No, no, no!’
‘Sir, sir, are you all right?’ Peter asked, eyeing his boss who had hid his face in his palms, eyes tightly shut. The eyelids seemed to be uncomfortable in keeping shut that they opened and closed in rapidity; precision in milliseconds! His fedora fell down as he pressed himself against a rocky wall of the lengthy run of a departmental store. His body started shivering and his pale face turned red. Fellow pedestrians looked at Mr. Rackson shrinking their faces. He continued to wail in his girly voice, ‘No, no, no, look at them. No!’
Peter shook him, catching Mr. Rackson by his shoulders. ‘Sir, sir, sir, what happened to you? Look at what? Are you-’
‘The birds. The birds. The birds,’ he moaned, ‘Look, look at them. Oh the bus crash these birds. Death. Death. Blood. Blood. No, no, no,’ still lamenting in a voice that gradually went low, he slid down being attached to the wall; and sat at the very place, pressing the sides of his face further. People started gathering around him; and stared at him. “Is he eccentric?” a random voice from the crowd. “No, I don’t think so,” another opinion. “He seemed startled,” a woman’s tone suggested. “What happened to him?” “Who’s he?” “Shall we call an ambulance?”
‘No, no, no gentlemen please. He’s all right. I’ll take care. Thank you. Sir, sir, are you-’
A white school pick-up bus ran out of control. He saw it in horror. It will come into control, he hoped. It made a topsy-turvy mess on the road. His eyes broadened in fright. The fearful shrieks of children filled the air. ‘Look!’ he shouted. No one even bothered to see. Everyone started disbanding to mind their own business! He tried to get up as soon as possible. The bus is heading towards his direction. He got up and pushed Peter away from him. (Although he tried to resist, he fell at a distance). There! It breaks the pathway. He lifted his index finger, obviously frightened. The shaky little member pointed ahead, followed by a yell, ‘Run! Run! Da-in-jaaa!’ he trembled.
“What?” a jeering audio, obviously from the indifferent congregation, howled. Everyone asynchronously turned towards the direction the finger suggested. Everything is normal! The bus is just a foot ahead of him. I’m dead. We’ll be dead! Peter could only spot the casual traffic, usual bicycles, motorbikes (two in number at a distance), and a few cars.
Am I alive? What is this place? When he opened his eyes, Peter occupied the entirety of his pupils. A broad smile. A green, amoebic monster hovered above Peter! ‘Pee-t!’ he couldn’t shout. It floated in air towards Peter; and opened its jelly, slouched mouth. Opened its claws. Empty space! Where is it? How did it disappear?
‘Sir, that’s ok. Please don’t strain yourself. You should rest.’
Where am I? A glucose bottle hanged upside down. It is inserted into his veins. Some brownish-yellow microbial things slithered down the tube continuously. Germs? They inject germs into my body for experimenting!
‘No, no, no, no, stop this. Remove. This, this, this. Remove. Remove,’ protesting violently, he pulled the syringe vehemently off his nerves. ‘Aaargh!’ Blood spurted out of his arm wherein the insulin syringe was inserted. Black-coloured blood gushed out of his veins. I’m germ-free! ‘Blood! Blood! Germs off! I’m safe. I’m-’
A manly force pressed him down. ‘Sir, sir, sir, calm down. Calm down. This is a hospital. You’re safe.’
A female nurse barged in, crying, “Jeeesus Christ!”
His revolt was suppressed by the young and agile blood; and, in that meantime, he felt a prick in his right hand. Needle! Injection! Germs again! No! ‘What what?’ he tried to speak to Peter. It wasn’t hard for Peter to subdue the revolt of Mr. Rackson’s short and very lean frame, though the former himself was not, remarkably, any bulky.
Everything went blurry, like looking through a stream of water falling down. Am I losing my eye sight? He felt his head hit a soft material, slowly. I’m made to lie again. Experimentation!
A fresh master’s graduate he was, he had no previous experience about these; he had no idea how complicated it is to get a patent. Discussions were going on inside. Peter knew the procedure – the lead author only should apply by filling out the patent form, pay the fees, approach through a patent attorney, and so on. The process, Peter knows, is so tedious. The good thing is that Peter’s uncle is the head of the department of patents and he had whispered to his uncle about this, unofficially; it attracted his uncle’s attention who decided to make this an exception, and completed all the procedures himself. Though his uncle offered that he may include Peter as co-author, Peter declined it. He had already warned his uncle that his boss had refused to apply for the patent and let it out to the world; but that he had brought it because he thought that the theory had the potential to rewrite the entire thinking of the working of the universe. He had provided all the calculations, every scrap of paper – even those that he dug up from the laboratory dustbin (it took him two days to even understand and segregate the ‘dump’ belonged to the topic from the other actual dumps; Mr. Rackson, generally unmindful of even Peter’s presence, didn’t even notice anything that Peter was doing though both were in the same lab-room).
Peter started reflecting about how Mr. Rackson arrived at this.
One day, about a month after his joining, Peter noticed Mr. Rackson trying to redesign an engine. It was, then, only three months before that the revolutionary V-8 engine was introduced by Henry Ford. Mr. Rackson had, seeing a newspaper article, commented through a post to the author if using two pistons in the same cylinder will have any improvement in the efficiency of the engine, which, unfortunately, or out of sheer hopelessness of the author, was discarded from being published or answered. Irked (not disappointed, but was riled) by the lack of response, he decided to experiment it himself.
His arrangement consisted of two pistons separated by only a thin column of oil film, reciprocating exactly out of phase to each other, in a single cylinder. The cylinder head setup has one inlet and one exhaust which made it look linearly eccentric – valve 1 is eccentric to piston 2, and valve 2 to 1. Peter wondered how and where Mr. Rackson manage to manufacture (technically, “produce”) such a system; which company will produce individual, unique casting like this; he thought about the special costs that his boss would have incurred to the workshop. When he saw the magic apparatus being readied for testing, he raised a question if it has any calculated probabilities of imploding. Mr. Rackson didn’t respond; why, the question didn’t even enter his ears at all in his obsession.
That resulted, as exactly as Peter predicted, in a chaos. The outburst of the piston (it was an explosion; not implosion), though didn’t harm both of them, languished Mr. Rackson’s spirits. After that, he started to lament on his own as if he is up to no good. Nevertheless, the demotivation didn’t last even for a couple of days. Mr. Rackson was seen experimenting with mice the 4th day of the accident. Peter always wondered if Mr. Rackson knew anything at all other than concepts of science. Mr. Rackson’s mind is capricious. It never stayed in any subject particularly. One day he’d be researching in physics, the next day he’d do botany. He is such a person who doesn’t get confined within a few boundaries.
On another random day, surprisingly, there was a package for Mr. Rackson. The package was gift-wrapped with the caption, “FOR MY BUNNY.” Peter took the package to the laboratory and inquired about it. Mr. Rackson just used two words – ‘Mumma! Present!’ – which he uttered not to Peter but to himself. That was the moment when Peter saw in his boss the curiosity and excitement of a kid being presented his first bicycle.
It incited in Peter a thirst to meet Mr. Rackson’s mother.
It was an exceptionally sunny afternoon when Peter arrived at Liverpool.
Knock. Knock. A brief pause. An almost muted creak of the door that allowed the emergence of an elderly figure with questioning eyes.
‘Hello Mrs. Rackson, I’m Peter Sonersby. I work for your son.’
‘Oh he hired a new young man! Come in please,’ she said, virtually ushering him inside, ‘no one actually stays with Dan for more than a week and I’m rather surprised that you showed up here!’ Gesturing to a black leather couch, she spoke, ‘by the way, young man, how did you find this address? Dan will never spill a word, I can assure that.’
‘The package, ma’am, Thought I’d learn something about Mr. Rackson, you know, err-’
‘I understand, son. Come on; please have lunch with me,’ she almost inaudibly muttered, ‘an old creepy, lonely creature.’
After an appreciably bounty luncheon with Mrs. Rackson in her dilapidated flat (at the ground floor of a three-storey building), Peter inquired everything about his employer’s childhood.
‘Dan wasn’t particularly a sharp child. He couldn’t remember things, numbers, why, even alphabets,’ started narrating Mrs. Rackson, ‘that he would constantly receive low, poor marks. He remained like that until he is 8 or 9. His peers, oh I forgot to mention – he had no friends at all! That was the hardest part,’ she continued assuming the necessary facial gestures as if everything that she was saying was simultaneously happening in front of her eyes, ‘a shy boy he always was. His peers discriminated him not only because of these but also because,’ a tear ran along her left cheek, ‘he doesn’t know who his father is,’ she mouthed these words with great difficulty; ‘I, I had admitted him in a Catholic school and it was…’ her voice trailed off; she buried her head into a white plain handkerchief.
‘I, I, I’m sorry ma’am. I, I really am,’ placing his hand gently on her head affectionately, ‘I don’t know what to say,’ he said, thinking high—as if she had some saintly adventures to her name—of the matronly figure.
‘No, that’s ok. Now, oh I really don’t know how he turned a science geek. It just happened. His, his university years were so dry. He used to get up from the middle of an exam and get home! His behaviour is inexplicable and hopeless,’ a show of slight—perhaps, mock—anger lingered on her face. ‘His teachers always complained about him being reticent, tacit and inattentive. He always had had difficulties making friends. He never had anyone in this world, I believe, other than me. No girlfriends, no dating, no, nothing,’ she paused for a second; she, taking in Peter’s attentive disposition, added, ‘he will act as if he’s, uh, an ascetic. Whenever he complains about people ignoring him, I’d give him some advice. He kept on saying that nothing worked,’ she drank a little amount of water and continued, ‘I don’t know what to say. So I said that if he can’t speak to them he always had God to speak to and listen to him. I said to just invigorate him, but, of late, weird that he started saying God speaks to, and listens to him all the time. He always said that he can hear voices from the sky.’
‘When did he start saying it?’
‘I don’t know. Maybe, since his pubescence, I believe. He never complained again all through his school; and I never bothered to ask if he had friends and if he gets along well with them because I started doing extra hours at the restaurant to save for his higher education. Most of the time when I return home, he would be asleep already.’
‘So mother’s love is something he missed.’
‘No, I wouldn’t put it that way. It’s just that,’ tears ran down in streams now, ‘I think, yes. It was all for his good, you see.’
‘Yes, ma’am I didn’t mean it that way. Just-’
‘That’s ok. By the way, are you a believer?’ she paused; the question, he felt, pushed him into a quagmire. He opened his mouth to answer; she continued, ignoring his yet-to-come response, ‘Never mind. But Dan never prayed. He says that God is his friend and so why should he worship his friend. Unusual, isn’t it?’ her eyes glowed in excitation. ‘By the way, I can say that he’d never even discuss stuffs like family with you, or anyone. How did you find me?’
‘I told you ma’am. Day before yesterday you’ve sent a package to him. I noted down the address.’
‘Oh sorry. I’m quite forgetful. That was dress, err, I mean, suits for him. Being asocial, he really couldn’t walk into a store, see the salesperson’s face and ask for what he is looking for,’ she smiled; behind which she hid her agony, ‘Obviously that’s why he hired you and all the previous others. I send him suits, money—which he spends wholly on research—and other such stuffs time to time. I’m worried about his future. He’d refused to let me stay closer to him. That’s why I’m here, all alone,’ she finished, assuming a hung-up face.
‘Have you ever taken him to a psychiatrist?’
‘What? No!’ with a raised and alarmed voice, ‘you think he’s a mental?’
‘No, no, no, no, not at all. I just, err, I’m sorry; I don’t know how to explain it. It’s just…’
‘It seems that your boss is a victim of delusion. I can’t say it with any certainty with the information you provided unless I diagnose him personally. Could you get him here to my clinic?’
‘I, I’m sorry doctor. I don’t think he would,’ pausing, he continued, ‘err, however, I will try my best. Thank you.’
He never had the courage to even tell Mr. Rackson that he had consulted a psychiatrist; not even that he had visited Mrs. Rackson, not to mention that to neither of these issues would Mr. Rackson attach any importance.
A week later, Mr. Rackson was seen very closely scrutinizing a woollen sweater; using his ‘classical’ magnifying glass. Peter, up until then, had never been given any research works. All he did is to clean up the laboratory, sort out the papers, buy things that his boss writes down, and do some assistance like lifting, keeping something in a desired position, and the likes. Sometimes he would be asked to take readings, most of which went into dustbin successfully. Sometimes Mr. Rackson would listen to Reggae music for hours together and Peter would sit next to him—his ears only would be listening, while his mind wandering in a chimerical land. He had been receiving pay for, almost, no work. He didn’t take particular interest in learning new things. And so, he never asked.
Mr. Rackson lost track of time. He kept on staring at the sweater, fixedly. Thread. Thread. Thread. Thread. One String. Four links, like kinematic links! A carefully knit network, an exquisite pattern. Perfectly arranged pores in between every such squares. One, two, three, four, five, it goes on. Evenly spaced. No! Here’s a glitch! A stitching glitch! So, a free radical? A broken string? An improper one? God’s stitch would never be faulty!
What if the whole universe is made up of strings tied together? Each strings being much tinier than an atom. So, strings make atoms; atoms make the universe. What about vacuum? Are strings like the imaginary ether medium?
Mr. Rackson got up off his chair in alacrity. He traced his fingers randomly, but affectionately, in air, like a witch or a gypsy (over the crystal ball). He initially seemed to describe some pattern in space, but then he cut it short. Peter looked at it in awe. Slightly terrified at the “air-bending,” he cried, ‘Mr. Rackson?’ which failed to gather any response, as usual.
Mr. Rackson started seeing. Web. Whole world is a web. Equi-spaced string pattern. His hand, just a net of strings. In this pattern of networks, he couldn’t spot his own hand. Some of the nodes in space moved in a quizzical way—which he identified as the motion of his hand—and touched some other nodes in air. They resulted in an emulsified reaction. They didn’t crash! Let me try harder. He made his nodes rapidly crash into the existing nodes of air. They still didn’t crash! Mr. Rackson was amazed. If nothing breaks, how come we see explosions and breakage?
‘Mr. Rackson?’ a voice came, ‘Mr. Rackson, are you okay?’ The decibel refused to enter his ear drums. Mr. Rackson continued observing the air closely, bending his neck in awkward angles, eyes shrunk.
The strings vibrated, and some yellow, flame-like thing moved from one node to the other. The conduction of sound energy! This is how energy travels! Vibration, peculiar patterns, uniformity, all make up the world? They make life? What about the concept of entropy? The universe ever tends to go into disorderliness. Maybe the concept of entropy is wrong?
But, no, it was proved right! What, then, is the truth?
‘Damn!’ openly shouted Mr. Rackson and collapsed into his chair. Peter ran to assist him. There were tears in the employer’s face. Staring starkly at the arriving figure of Peter were his eyes; and he closed his eyes slowly. Peter found that Mr. Rackson, in very short time, fell into a deep sleep. On the table lay an array of cacographical, strewn out equations in a crushed, filthy A4 sheets; the sheets looking hardly white.
The barber saw Mr. Rackson’s head as if it is a specimen in a museum. ‘For how many years on earth have you not cut your hair, eh?’ he asked, intending a sardonic remark. It gave birth to no response. Peter was tempted to step in for rescuing his employer from this seemingly undeserved sarcasm.
Earlier, Mrs. Rackson had called Peter and asked him to “take” Mr. Rackson to the barber shop. She had said, ‘Dan was unable to let any human being touch him other than me. Most of the times, he’d freak out. Please take care of him.’
Peter naturally accepted the challenge. And it was easier than he thought to “take” Mr. Rackson to the saloon. He just asked if he would like to cut his hair and that he would accompany him. Mr. Rackson readily agreed.
‘Sooner, all these will be automated and you’ll be losing your job. No more scissors and comb, do you know that?’
‘What are you talking about? Impossible, lad.’
‘No, they’re working on it. A machine that will cut your hair faster than humans can, and in different styles. You just have to enter your head into an enclosure and it can even dye your hair. All in a matter of a few seconds! By the way, I’ve a Masters in Science and you have to believe me,’ said Peter, determined to discomfit the barber; that is, avenging the barber’s unfitting remarks.
‘No, no way, nothing can replace human beings,’ ejecting these words, and with a fear circulating within his heart—because of the consideration of facts—the recent boom in automobile industry ensued in numerous auto-rickshaw drivers losing their job; he neared the placid, thoughtful Mr. Rackson who was made to recline on the red cushioned hair-cutting chair.
The scissors is travelling towards him. The comb asynchronously followed. There comes the barber. What is that on his head? Horns! The approaching face turned red; mouth projected a devilish smile. The devil is here! It is about to cut my throat. Noooo!
He blinked. A casual blink.
Huh? It’s just the barber with a scissors! I’m at the barber’s shop! There stands Peter!
‘Sir, don’t move your head.’ Peter invisibly smiled at his triumph over the barber; triumph, he considered it—the insertion of “sir,” in the menial man’s context.
‘Sa, sorry,’ Mr. Rackson interjected.
Mr. Rackson rolled his eyes, with strain, upwards to follow the trajectory of the tool. He could not see anything save for a blurred image of the barber’s hair-grown hand. So, he opted to see that in imagination. The scissors’ strings tried to cut the strings in his hair. It all looked even like a mesh of strings. He couldn’t identify between the scissors and his hair strands. All look the same! Everything looked the same everywhere as if a mosquito net is covering your vision, and you see the world through it.
One of his hairs went down! How does it happen? If everything is the same, how did we see differences? Like a grated diaphragm, the whole world is structured! But yet, there were differences!
‘I told you not to move your head!’ shrieked the barber in an irksome tone. Peter who immersed himself, seated in one of the chairs lined up for waiters, with the newspaper just looked up for a moment and returned to his occupation.
How can we differentiate things? How supremely structured this illusion is! There goes another of my hair! It moved through the nodes. He looked closer. The nodes vibrated and redistributed themselves, making a curvy motion along the way the strand moved. The net was unaltered in structure, only the energy gets realigned; the strings are self-adjusting to project the motions in real time.
‘I told you to quit movin’ your damn head!’
‘Honeycombs, honeycombs!’ Mr. Rackson jumped out of his chair and started running, carrying his half-done head. That made the worker see him altogether in an eerie way. Peter threw the newspaper onto his chair and some currency (more than what is charged) at the barber, in haste, and ran behind Mr. Rackson shouting, ‘Sir! Sir! Sir!...’ Back then, Peter, who was as much annoyed as the barber was—though the latter got gains with half the pain and the former losing gains and taking undeserved pains—didn’t know that that was one such “Eureka!” moment for the thinker who was running ten feet ahead of him.
A rough hand shook Peter out of his reflections. It was his uncle’s. The man stood before Peter, smiling. Peter could tell the result of the discussion from the glimpse of his uncle’s face.
‘This is a breakthrough! This is one damn good theory that is going to alter the way we think how our universe is! For the sake of science, we’ve decided not to pressurize Mr. Rackson with all the formalities. At times, it is necessary to step out of set limitations if we want to do some good, right? I’ve, to say bluntly, misused my position. That’s ok. This is so amazing. By the way, um, we’re going to do some further research,’ he paused to gather breath, ‘because you know, most of the equation sequence was not sorted in order. My peers will take care of that. I will make sure that all formalities were finished by Friday;’ he thought for a moment, ‘and we will publish this material formally to the media because this is one such magnificent discovery.’ Shaking hands with Peter, he added, ‘On Friday, bring Mr. Rackson with you. To get his patent, you can write the abstract and stuff, or I can do it, but he must sign the papers. After signing, he probably would have to present his theory before a set of elite professors and physicists.’
‘Uncle, he’s,’ clearing his dry throat, he added, ‘he’s, I think, I mean, he wouldn’t agree to; actually, he can’t speak to people; stand in the dais and speak, you know. He’s awkward, to be frank.’
‘Shy, huh? But, we can’t provide him the patent without him presenting his theory,’ stroking his bearded chin—the universal sign/gesture that represents the very act of considering or thinking about something—he added, ‘Hmmm, all right, let me see. I shall make sure that this invaluable brain doesn’t get ignored, ok? I’ll help in skipping that step, too.’
Peter explained the whole to Mr. Rackson and assured that he wouldn’t be bothered. He cleverly suggested that Mr. Rackson record himself, in isolation, in his own laboratory, explaining the theory and just present the recording to the audience.
It worked! Mr. Rackson thought that was a feasible solution and hence he assented.
The D-day came.
He had prepared his recording and had convinced the jury with his recording. Papers were distributed to everyone, which had typewritten material about the important points that his recording covered and his theory in general, for instance, like in cases where he would quip an equation, the listener can turn to that page and refer to it. He had structured his recoding intelligently providing every page number wherein a particular equation or reference lay. While everyone remained in their seat, only one voice—an electronic one, from an amplifier, that stirred initial temporary unrest among a few because of the shrillness it was laden with—filled the auditorium. All the eyes were transfixed onto the set of papers that each one was awarded, their hands constantly groping onto the same, to locate the referred note or to turn the pages.
Even after all such over-cautious steps, he was called in to speak a few words about this, (because the ensemble wanted to directly interact with him and not just go home listening to a recorded clip) and answer the journalists; he felt a sharp pang in his chest. The angst froze his whole manifestation; the fluttering continued within. Spectators can spot him suffer and formed conclusions—as we, humans always used to; without a solid proof, forming premature, baseless conclusions—that it was just stage fear on the researcher’s part.
He went up the rostrum, to which he was unwonted to; faced the audience which wholly is composed of professors, eager post-graduate students, science journalists and a few illiterate or semi-educated cameramen, who occasionally flashed—not as in a music album release, but gently, in a pattern; careful not to take too many photographs. This is a formal event and things are supposed not to look embarrassing. He tried to smile but his face had set hard, like a month-old concrete. He started, regretting his decision to make an appearance, ‘Good, good, ggg, good morning to one and all,’ a short pause; virtually gulping the rising adrenaline on his throat, the girly voice continued playing melodies into the microphone, ‘present here. It, it is indeed my pleasure, indeed my pleasure, indeed my pl, pleasure to beeeee here in this highly,’ he struggled; discomfort rose in the crowd, ‘highly learned amass. I, I, I think all is clear, all is clear by now. So, there,’ he sensed an elevated unease in the crowd—that which he never ever in his lifetime had been able to spot—even the most visible outward emotion, too, he would fail to decipher from a person’s face; but now, as if sudden wisdom had dawned on him, he spotted the unease; ‘there really, reee, isn’t any need for me to speak here. You, you, you can see I, I’m nervous and, you know, ju, just, just,’ he paused again and scanned the gathering. All the heads looked like the protrusions on the coat of a jackfruit. They slowly, one by one, turned red hot. One by one, they started to explode. Blood oozed out of each and every head, like a stream. On the air floated numerous white silhouettes ready to consume the stream of blood. His body shivered. He coughed. He closed his eyes for a fraction of second and reopened it. A congregation of eager heads, awestruck eyes. Some grew impatient. ‘Just, I don’t know, I don’t know what to speak. So, I would like to fi, fi, finish off my short speech here saying, th, th, th, thank you for the opportunity.’
Just as he was about to return to his seat, someone ran to the microphone and practically shoving Mr. Rackson off (politely and formally), barked into it, ‘It’s query hour. Any questions?’ Proud of having completed his compering properly, the figure receded back to its seat; and Mr. Rackson’s tension started rising again, being not let to sit.
From the numerous hands that were raised asking for chance, Peter’s uncle—who was equally disappointed as Peter was, for witnessing the other person’s nosiness—pointed to one of the science journalists in the front row. The Chosen One stood up proudly, being the bumper choice, ‘Sir, can you share with us your struggles and your mode of approach? What is your inspiration behind it, Sir?’
This question threw Mr. Rackson into a state of discomfiture. By then, hyperventilation had become his occupation. He couldn’t think of anything. ‘I, I don’t know. I don’t know. The jumper and, and, and the stitch p, ppp, pppatten, inspired me, I guess,’ he said, swiping the sweat off his forehead.
There was a short laughing session. No one can tell what the big joke in this response is. One of the students at the back seats grabbed the microphone (politely, from the volunteers standing all the way along the aisle) and cried impatiently, ‘I was deeply inspired by this research, Sir. Though you didn’t tell your modus operandi, may I be given the freedom to, to rephrase the question? How did you arrive at this?’
They’re not letting me. They wouldn’t let me. He saw the whole place go white. A complete white, empty space; a vacuum. ‘I, I, I don’t know. (Who are you addressing to? It is pure vacuum! Complete white ground.) The voice, the voice told me. It, it, it guides me,’ saying that, he cupped his throat and coughed. He moved away from the dais and started to cough so badly that some of them decided to call the ambulance. Peter’s uncle ran to the microphone in haste and said, ‘sorry for the short query time and improper response from Mr. Rackson. He must needs to take rest now. Shall we be genteel enough not to bother him further and end this session with this? Please write all your questions by post to him. He’ll respond to you. Thank you. Now, vote of thanks. I would like to call Mr. Dennyson, assistant head, Royal Society of Science, London, to deliver the vote of thanks.’
Mr. Rackson was escorted by Peter who helped avoid some over-enthusiastic students who couldn’t wait to write letters, practically beleaguering him. He took a cab, though expensive, and quickly propelled Mr. Rackson into it. Numerous flashes followed.
The cabman dropped the researcher at the crossroads; a 100 metre walk to his home. Peter, whose home is still miles away, remaining within, waved to his boss, which, as usual, didn’t receive anything in return. The cab moved out of Mr. Rackson’s sight; inserting his hands into his overcoat pockets, he trod towards his home. It was excessively windy and less sunny a midday that he had to remove his right hand from his pocket to hold his hat from being carried away.
He felt nauseous. Trying in vain to walk, he stood still in the sidewalk. The gentle show of sun danced before his eyeballs, which, he saw, shrinking his eyes. From the middle of the busy road, a baby emerged – a girl child, of about 5 or 6 years old. Mr. Rackson wondered from where did she appear, for he didn’t see her anywhere in the near circumference. She was clad in a complete white gown. She effortlessly started making towards him, as if she glided. Each and every of her step left behind golden trails. She was unhurt by the passing of all the traffic – of auto-rickshaws, horse carriages, bicycles and a few cabs; all of them seemed to be passing through her. Just as she was about to reach the pavement, another similar girl clad in complete black blocked her way.
“No! Don’t!” Mr. Rackson tried to shout with his frail effeminate voice.
The latter child raised an axe and cut the former’s head. Mr. Rackson’s pulse surged high. He felt as if some invisible force is blocking his throat. He couldn’t shout or move. Blood spurted out of the white girl. His eyes cried, involuntarily. People looked at him with contorted faces, unaffectedly, and moved on. The girl clad in black, more beautiful than the dead girl, smiled devilishly at him. Thorns that sprung from beneath the ground arrested him from moving as she neared him. She said, “It’s time;” saying that, she dissolved into air. The thorns retreated back into ground.
The whole place became plain white. White; plain, pure white background filled the ambience.
No, it’s not.
The whole scene became immediately black. Complete, pitch black; darkness occupied the vicinity, and started spreading upwards, consuming the whole world in its dark reigns. His struggles with the invisible and invincible force continued still. His throat being choked; his legs being tied; his whole frame burning, he felt being enslaved by some dark force.
No, it’s not.
The black sketch assumed a netty figure. White stitch patterns besieged the entire field. And they disappeared. They again appeared only to last for a second, and disappear. Finally, a white formation on a black background stayed. All the connecting points, that is, the nodes, started to vibrate vigorously. He felt that they are about to explode. Am I in a white cage?
Kshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…. An unbearable noise took host of his ears.
Suddenly, the noise was muted! Silence. He felt as if he was caught in a maze. ‘No!’ He shouted, covering his ears.
‘Sir, are you ok?’ a passer-by neared him. Horns appeared on his head, and two of his tooth showed itself out of his mouth; blood dripping off them.
The devil’s closer to me. ‘No!’ He shouted again, trying to run away from the stranger. Why can’t I run? More roots, ejecting out of the pathway, entwined his leg, arresting more vigorously his movements.
Tears flowed from his eyes, again. The auto-rickshaws kept on moving, throwing questioning glances at those crying eyes in the negligible time they can observe him; the scarce automobiles and their fragile smoke layers peered at his dripping tears; the ever-cheery wind superficially lingered on his liquid; people with gawky, tired yawns looked at him in amazement – crying publicly is a free performance, right?. The random citizen next to him kept on asking him, ‘Sir, what happened to you? Are you in pain? May I call the doctor?’
Blood spurted out of his mouth. White foamy spit effervesced out of his mouth, as if bit by a snake. The stranger agitated, thinking that the man may have had a stroke; and quickly scanned the vicinity to locate a pay-phone to dial up for ambulance. Cell phones were an asset for only the excessively rich ones.
Mr. Rackson started laughing. He laughed so loud that the volunteer, for a moment, had a frightened prick in his heart. ‘Sir? What are you-’
Mr. Rackson stopped laughing. ‘Devil! Devil! Here’s the Satan!’ he yelled; it made the temporary Samaritan panic. On the stranger’s head horns started to develop. They developed in a swift fashion.
Mr. Rackson wasn’t shaken. He laughed again. ‘You can’t do anything to me, you filthy ghoulish creature,’ he challenged. The stranger concluded that the person must be a madman, and started to distance himself; Mr. Rackson’s victorious, and vicious laugh continued.
I’m the God!
There is no God!
I’m the God!
There is no God!
I’m the God!
There is no God!
I’m the God!
There is no God!
An absolute black world. Slowly, white spots materialized. Sooner they consumed the black world. Hisssssssssssssssssss… Noise filled his ears again.
People started gathering towards him, as if he’s performing a feat and watched his actions. No one dared to speak, nor reach out for help.
Thorns all around him.
A big, human head-sized piny ball spun in vacuum. Some illegible letters kept on coming out of it.
Perhaps, I’m the God!
‘Ohhhhh! Stop that!!!’
He said, ‘No! All right, yes, it is!’
He felt his vision go twisted as if seeing into a kaleidoscope. His knees buckled; hat sailed in the autumn wind; overcoat went adrift, yearning to go free but was restricted by his frame; trees showered yellow leaves. He knelt down, closing his eyelids tightly and his whole frame shivered. He moved his lips as if praying; and succumbed to the floor, prostrate.
The wider streets of London took pride in hosting such a genius on its lap.
The same newspapers that carried extensive theoretical details of his theory in their first column carried along the news of his demise. Many reporters tried to contact Mrs. Rackson to conduct a biographical research, all of which she refused to speak to. One of the newspapers carried a short poem from an anonymous person at the end of his obituary:
A last one, but not the least one,
Unseen, unnoticed, goes undone;
Amidst all the filthy worldly dreams,
A dream worth dreamt sailed to heaven.