I get all sorts of strange looks and I wonder if it’s because I am furiously scribbling in my lime green notebook. Otherwise I am a completely normal looking human girl with brown skin and long black hair and I am dressed in a skirt and shirt. They have no way of knowing I spent my childhood in a spaceship. They make me uncomfortable but I still don’t leave the place. Oh! It’s such a nice place. They call it a –a sidewalk cafe. You can go and sit on the chairs and tables of carved wood that are set outdoor, under the sky! And a kind lady comes to you and brings you what you want. I had a chocolate cake and a coffee.
I write. I write a lot. And sometimes I wonder why. But I write because that’s all I can do, all I can produce. I write because it is life. I can make the imaginary worlds with fanciful beings and I can preserve humanity in this way. A lot of wishful thinking and hope is involved in it. Hope that when men of today didn’t listen to us, the children might grow up to be better and they might read and save the world if it’s not too late already. Sometimes I think it’s foolish and haughty of me to think like that but it is one of the thoughts that rooted into my mind while I was locked up in the spaceship. Oh God! I still shudder when I think of it.
“Ta-ta,” a giggling boy on the next table catches my attention. He’s running around with a red balloon. He’s coming towards me. “Ta-ta,” he chuckles at me, tapping my hand with his chubby fingers. He’s not more than three.
Now his mother comes after him. “Johnny!” she says, picking him up. “Sorry if he disturbed you.” she adds to me.
Disturb me? I loved to have him here. Though all I did was smile. He has a childhood I never had and it soothes me to see that. I wish all children would have a giggle-filled childhood. Besides, aren’t they the symbol of life? Aren’t they the ones left when we all are dead? I’ve seen it happen.
We didn’t even know who we were, or who they were when they took us. The very day I was born. Since then I lived in a cube, a transparent oblivion. I had wires in my head that fed me with knowledge. I learned all languages, all words. I learned math and science and all about humans and other species that live in the universe. I learned the cycles of life and death. But everything I learned gave me more questions than answers. I knew we are here. And I knew we are not here for long. But why are we?
Some people say there’s a God. There must be a God. I for some reason cannot do well with the absurd notion that these species just appeared in a world so perfect for them and then after a series of happenstances they are gonna die. Or that for some reason the world formed-out of a dense mass that no one knows how existed-out of a sudden and now it’s just gonna end. I believe faith and religion give meaning to life.
But what am I supposed to do? I am helpless, except in one place. I can write and put my hope on the tiny chance that the giggling boy with red balloon will grow up to read it. And it may start a plantation in his mind.
So I learned things that started a fire in my mind as if the wires caused a short curcuit. After that timeless, perpetual period, there came a surprise. A stimulus, of which our abnormally developed brain knew nothing. There were humans everywhere, making chaos. Coming to us, trying to figure out what has happened to us. They took us to some strange place that I knew nothing of. I later found out it was a spaceship. At that time I was mostly interested in the other faces like me. Hundreds of them. They took us to some more strange places (the hospital) and then other humans with same faces came and looked at me and gave me the medical treatment they thought I needed.
I began to change and learn but nothing could compensate for the loss of childhood nourishment. They said we would never fit in the human world. I learned to differentiate the face of one man from another and I learned to treat them differently-and then regretted learning it. I learned about my past. The people who kidnapped us were from another planet called Mortus. They were desperate, being on the verge of extinction with their planets reduced to ashes and wanted to try everything to survive.
They knew about other planets and species and we humans knew of them too. But after the study of each other’s histories and the way they interacted with each other scared some of the angelic species. The intergalactic community decided by voting, that there was to be no communication between planets. This absurd rule was broken in the worst way possible. The Mortusians kidnapped children from other planets and tried to start a hybrid breeding. It didn’t work. The children brought with them some diseases that they knew nothing of and started a pandemic which resulted in the death of every one of them.
Ah! Such irony and poetic justice! I am still lost in thoughts when a girl’s voice startles me. She’s the same who brought me coffee.
“We’re closing ma’am.” she says. I too, notice the sun sinking and the city lights starting to twinkle. I press my notebook to my chest and walk towards the city center, into the thickets of people. The sky is beautiful shade of red and purple. The sun is giving out rays that cries evidences of its existence but is hidden by tall buildings. How long is it, I think, till it goes out? And how civilly will we behave when the inevitable happens? I think we will be uglier than the others. We’re already ugly, for we allowed them to extinct. We agreed to ban communication. I and the others kidnapped children, with under developed brain, went on begging them to start communication but they never listened. Now if another species went extinct we will blame ourselves.
Or will nature let us be ugly? Will it be so quick we will only get enough time to gape-or scream?
It’s my hundredth day here I think but the city never fails to fascinate me. I love the tall, colorful buildings, and the lights! The lights glittering against the black velvet sky, I love them more than the stars because the city lights scare me less. As long as I try to forget about the damaged Earth, the vast infertile lands, the starving people, and the flooded areas. We have advanced but haven’t solved environmental problems. We have just managed to build a shrine for rich nations, while the poor nations die in their waste. Again no one listened to us except the scientists.
I vividly remember the shock when I found out the condition of Earth. But everyone was biased against me as if I m a bacteria. No one listened to us, no one knew what to do with us. And we didn’t know what to do with them either.
One little girl walks up to me. I smile widely at her.
“Can you give me some food?” she says. I nod, giving her my hand. I’ve noticed that children need an adult to support, feed and care for them. And there seems to be no adult with her. She looks strangely at my hand.
“Take it,” I say. She does, but awkwardly. Is she a newbie here too?
We walk through the crowd, towards an enchanting place I found about yesterday. My supervisor took me there. She’s the one who helps me figure out Earth. We live at the big mansion my parents left and use the inheritance money. I never met them. They died before I came to Earth because the speed of the spaceship was much faster than Earth. And though I am only twenty, I was born a century earlier on Earth.
I am once more aware of the strange glances my direction and I don’t try to think why. Strange is the only expression I can recognize till now apart from happiness and sadness. We seat ourselves at the restaurant. I ask her what she wants to eat. She doesn’t know.
“Ha! I didn’t know either.” I say. “My supervisor suggested this ‘Chicken Alfredo Lasagna’. D’you wanna try?”
“I’d be really grateful.” she says.
I order two Chicken Alfredo Lasagnas and sit in front of the girl.
“What is your name?” I ask the girl.
“Aretha.” she says.
“Aretha, where do you live?”
She looks around the room and speaks slowly. “I live on the street.”
I open my mouth to reply.
That’s when the end begins.
I used to think walking around this heavenly city, “What’s the cost of it?” The horrible images of burnt forests came to my mind and I get it. There is no cost, because it was never ours. It’s free and temporary. We’re guests, delirious, vain, ungrateful guests.
It’s the moon, finally breaking under the treatment we gave it. We warned them. I built a device to prevent it. I put my hands in the pocket and clutch the broken piece of metal from my device. When I came to Earth I found that they have cluttered the orbits so much with satellites that the strong waves emitted by them are superimposing each other and producing radiations powerful enough to destroy the moons mass and thus weaken its gravity. I was really worried. I worked madly for an year and created a substitute to satellites, a device that could transfer all the data that satellites do but was based on quantum tech. It was obvious for me that they’re gonna adapt to it.
But they didn’t.
The Earth is shaking. Everybody’s panicking and running here and there. They have nowhere to run. Crashes after crashes are heard as the craters blast on Earth. Aretha too has run off. I spot her jostling in the crowd, her face teary. I don’t move what’s the point.
Only one point nags me. We could not preserve life. The kid with red balloon might be crushed under rocks. Then Aretha’s gonna die. Are we doomed? No, we are not doomed. We are at the mercy of a higher, wiser and much more loving power.