A Quiet Night

Maximus returned to his room late in the evening. Putting his bag aside, he sat by the window. A glazing yellowish light was radiating. He stared at the huge buildings for a while. He was living alone in an apartment on the hundred and fiftieth floor. He made a coffee for himself and again started to look out. This time he witnessed a calmness in the city. No robots were flying, people talking or helicopters hovering. The city he saw seemed decayed but not dead. He appreciated the silence as much as he feared it. Observing the layer after layer of things present in the city, he asked himself, have we lost the battle? If so, to whom did we lose? To robots, to some mystical deity, or to ourselves. Maximus works in the crime department. His job is to inspect crime scenes. Particularly to take photographs of the scenes and report them. With each click of the camera, he feels poignant. How a thing created by a human obliterates another human’s body. Maximus has been doing this same job for twenty years now. He always relapses into this habit of thinking about his purpose. He observes his surroundings and gets carried away in deep and difficult territories of the human psyche. It was one of those days when he got himself into the abyss of his thoughts inside his tiny brain which no longer is the most powerful computing thing. He always tries to create an alternate present for himself and seeks refuge in such places. Reality seems to be intolerable for him. He no longer can face them cause then he knows he will lose to them again and again. Picking up the half-left cigarette from yesterday night, lighting it up with a powerful flame from the lighter made by a brand that also makes the same cigarette. Deeply inhaling the smoke, he reminiscences the time when Rebecca always argued about his habit of smoking. “When the bloody hell, are you going to stop smoking”? Quickly she would open the windows even if it is cold outside and move away from him. The infinite time he told her that he is going to quit this habit. These memories were like a burden living inside him. He doesn’t know what to do with them.
The sun was about to set. All the huge boards of advertisements and corporate lighted up in multiple colors. It wasn’t the same ten years back, he murmured. Maximus loved reading and music. These two things made him feel himself. Made him feel the present without diluting him with the painful past or with the unprecedented future. He remembered how he loved the books of Orwell, Huxley. How he admired them as human beings and their beyond-good ability to tell so much through their writings. He also loved reading history. About wars and great movements created by great humans. He admired the great impressionist movement and the renaissance period. After 2100 all the history and its existence in the likes of paper were lost. All the things were now on the web, “a network”. It’s 2175, and to access history, one doesn’t have to read books to know about the past, they can get to experience it for some amount of digital transaction. The relationship of everything around human beings has changed. Commoditization of each aspect of human life has left them hollow and in search of their coherent existence in the world. But the reality of today seemed inevitable after a point. After all the technological milestones that humans achieved, they were too ignorant to see the doom days hovering in their backyard. The world feels shallower with each passing year. Nothing significant seems to be happening. Despite having all the means of entertainment to boost the dopamine inside a man. A person living at this age seemed less happy than his previous generation. Being surrounded by hi-tech gadgets and all, they have few things left that can make them feel human.
At the end of the twenty-first century, a war broke out among humans in the name of their belief system. The beliefs were meant to protect humans. Maximus stared at the picture of a figure. That figure was worshipped by the whole city. The mortals believed it to be the reason they survived the war, too blind to see who or what caused it. Maximus lived near “The Wall”. It was made by the Hoyte corporation. According to them, it was made as a symbol and a barrier to keep the city clean. Clean from the outsider. Maximus remembered the story that his parents used to tell. How they got themselves into the city through an agent. The ugliness that the other side of the wall holds. He’d never been on the other side but he had heard other people’s stories. He resented the hierarchy that men created in the world. The human tendency to make themselves superior to others. The greed to feel the power. Humans have now lost the ability to think by and for themselves. The political world-building by so-called leaders had made them impotent to see beyond the created reality. Maximus’s job took him all around the city. He pictured brutal crime scenes. Robots weren’t used to take pictures because of their fragility to online exploitation. He didn’t like his job but he had no other option. Examining the naked concrete of the wall, he realized how many lives it has taken just for being on the other side of it. It was almost night time, he slid into his blanket, lit up another, and puffed it twice. The long and dark shadows of towers and the wall loomed over this room. A few quadcopters passed making noise, it’s their routine job to inspect the people and what they are up to. These copters indicated the omnipresence of the leader. People hated them but couldn’t complain because they don’t have any rights. Freedom seemed like a fairy tale that used to exist in the past. All subjects of human creation have been used against them to promote the propaganda of fascism. People are puppets controlled by leaders, the cables are the media, art, cinema, and books. Everything said or visually expressed was just another form of the great narrative built by the rulers. The science and tech made to serve and develop the human race gave them everything yet couldn’t save them. Is it to blame the tech or the hands and minds of humans that used or misused them to propagate their self-interest? Man ruled the earth not because they were the first to make the tools or the first to draw a picture. It was because of the marvelous plastic mind that made them able to do so much that other species couldn’t. But it also became the reason for the great tragedy that humans faced in the end.
Max took out some sleeping pills, a robotic hand poured some water into the glass. He swallowed the medicine. His job made him wake up all night. All the gruesome images of the crime came flashing as he closes his eyes and try to fall asleep. He recalled the way Rebecca slept by his side. How she taught him to align his breath with hers and they would sleep holding each other in their arms. A cool breeze passed moving the window in the process. He sighed and shed a drop of tears as he missed his old days. The pills started to work. He stared at the ceiling now, thinking of it as the wall between Rebecca and him. God “why me?”, he asked- Silence. “How long?”- Silence. He murmured the same sentences and fell asleep.

The Absurd Dream

“Please! Not tonight. Not again.”

Though Jordan claims to be a non-believer, every single night he sits on his bed, looks up, and utters these words.

“Not tonight. Not again.” There is an immediate pause.

‘Would saying it help?’ he thinks.

Finally, rather shamefully, he whispers, “Please don’t let it happen tonight, god.”

His face, dripping with shame, bears an expression that can only be described as the face of a man who’s been discovered on stage, in front of thousands of people, naked. Because that is precisely how he feels now -naked. He knows his prayers will have no effect on what is about to happen -what has been happening for the past two months, what is inevitable – his dream.

Every night, for the past two months, Jordan has been terrified of his dreams. This fact may seem rather strange seeing that his dreams are neither terrifying nor recurring. It is quite the opposite. He is absolutely terrified because the only time he’s happy is when he’s dreaming.

Sophie. The story of how they met holds such gravity that seldom a day goes by without him replaying the moment over and over in his head. He remembers that dingy bus. A bus to where? That he does not remember—nor does he care to remember. The bus was almost empty. Just, Sophie, him, and the driver. Suddenly, in the middle of nowhere, it stops. He can see her feet now, now her knees, a fabric of checkered blue pattern—a skirt. The pattern continues until it reaches the base of her neck. Then the bare neck itself. Finally, her face. The actual details of the face meant very little, what did mean a lot was how that face made him feel—understood. The beauty of it was not even worth noting, though it existed, the feeling of it all trumped any form of physicality. Jordan, his whole life, had considered himself an outcast, as though no one had ever understood him, as though no one really could. That all changed now. All the vacant seats and she sits beside him. No words exchanged. Words? They’re for those who don’t yet understand each other. She was everything he wanted her to be and he was everything he wanted himself to be. Eventually, they got off the bus and walked along the streets of Kathmandu. A slight drizzle only excited Jordan as Sophie took him by his hand. Finally, the street came to an end and so did his dream. On waking, Jordan felt terrible. Terrible, not because of what happened in the dream but because what had happened would never happen in reality.

The next night, the dream continued right where the first one ended. Jordan woke up with the same, now familiar feeling. It continued over many nights and Jordan quite literally fell in love with the girl of his dreams, the girl in his dreams.

Every single morning, the divorce between reality and his dreams became more and more apparent. He’d realized the absurdity of it all. Reality would never live up to his dreams. He knew he’d never find a Sophie—that Sophie did not even exist. After 68 days of waking up and not wanting to open his eyes to the dreadful horrors of reality, he decided that all of it was too painful to bear. Something needed to be done.

Every morning, Jordan’s eyes reflect resolution. He knows what he has to do. As soon as he wakes up, he gets up and takes out a piece of paper. Plans his day. He decided not to go to work. On the paper, he wrote down some names.

The list read:

  1. Mom and Dad – 10 AM

  2. Ash – 12 PM

  3. Ava – 2 PM

  4. Robbie – 4 PM

That was it. All the people he cared about, in a list of four numbers. As he looked at the list, a solitary drop of tear emerged from his left eye, rolled down his cheek, and then to his neck.

The list was incomplete. There was one name missing.

He took the paper and added:

  1. Sophie – tonight

Jordan then started thinking about Sophie and the dream he’d had the night before. He remembered how the pointy grass felt on his neck as he lay there with her, gazing at the stars.

‘If you do exist. Now would be the time to show up.’ He whispered to himself.

Sophie wandered into Jordan’s head multiple times throughout the day. Soon, all the names on the list were crossed out, and met with, except for one.

9 PM, Jordan’s sitting on his bed again, praying. But this time he’s not praying to stop the dream from happening. Instead, he is praying for the dream to last forever.

‘If I do wake up tomorrow, I know what I’ll have to do.’ He says it as a warning -a warning to the god he does not believe in.

Now, for the first time, he looks forward to his dream. He finally meets the last person on his list. They spend the whole day walking with no exchange of words. Sophie understands. She wants to stop him but knows she can’t. Jordan has his arms locked around Sophie’s, he actually believes that he’ll be there forever. With her forever. But the day has to end and so does the night.

Jordan wakes up. He isn’t sad now. He remembers what Sophie’s final words were. The three syllables. He can’t imagine a better ending to a story, to his story. A smile on his face, not the one he’s used to in the real world but the kind he gets when he’s with her. He gets up and opens his windows. Morning sun redness seeps through the windows of his lonely sixth-floor apartment. It was the beginning of a beautiful day; he could feel it. He looks up at the sky. The clouds moved so he could have a better view.

He is content. With a smile on his face, he steps on the railing and jumps off.

त्यो क्यानभासमा जहिलै कोर्नु हौ !

मङ्गसिरको महिना; यति मात्रै भने के बुझ्नु हुन्छ ?   

लगन जुरेको छैन; तब बिहेको त कुरै भएन।   

मङ्गसिर महिनाको बिहानीपख भने चै ?

बुझिसक्नु भो होला है? तर फेरी के बुझ्नु भो; गाह्रो बनाइदिनु भो त ।

अब मैले के भन्न चाहेँ अनि हजुरले के बुझ्नु भो? त्यो मेल खाएन भने त मेरो बोलीको के अर्थ रह्यो र ? फेरी संसारमा सबै कुराको अर्थ हुनुपर्छ भन्ने पनि त छैन | कुरा सुन्दैमा खुशी भइयो भने पुग्यो; हैन र ? जीवनको अर्थ के छ र ? न मेरो जन्म मेरो आफ्नो इच्छाले भाकोथ्यो न त मेरो मृत्यु नै? मेरो लागि त यो जीवन शून्यबाट सुरु भयो अनि अन्त्यमा शून्यमै बिलायो नि | तर जीवन जिउने बहानामा मैले के के र कति कति बनाएँ? शून्यको अगाडि धेरै चिज थपे अनि पछाडि पनि तर म भने शून्यमै बिलाएँ | अनि तिनीहरु सबैको अर्थ चै के रह्यो र? अर्थहीन छ तर पनि हामी यो जीवनलाई अर्थ दिन र सार्थक बनाउन खोजिराखेका छौ, किन र के का लागी? मलाई त लाग्छ मेरा कुराहरु ठाउँसम्म पुगेन भने त्यसको के अर्थ रह्यो र?

आ’छु कति चिसो हौ पानी पनि; सोच्दा सोच्दै गिलासको पानी पोखाएछु | यो एकाबिहानै देखि पानी पनि ठण्डिएर के के नाटक देखाईराछ, के भन्न खोजिराछ? ला जा ! मैले जे बुझाउन खोजेको थिएँ, त्यो त पानी पोखिएर पो बुझाईदियो त। हो जाडो पलाईसकेको थियो | अझ उपत्यकामा त भदौबाटै सुरु हुन्छ; जाडो | जाडोको बारेमा भन्नु पर्दा सबै ठाउँमा हुन्छ होला तर यो जाडोले यस ठाउँलाई अर्कै मोहनी लाएको थियो | यस्तो मोहनी कि जुन आफैँ आफैँमा लाग्ने; मेरो मन नहुदाँ पनि | हुन त म पनि यहाँ बसेको हो नि तर किन यो ठाउँले मलाई नसोधी मोहनी लगायो; आखिरी एकपल्ट त सोधे पनि हुने | तर खै मलाई यस ठाउँले नअंगालेको पनि हो कि? त्यसैले त म यहाँ बसेको देखिसक्दिन | बिहानी र बेलुका जाडो बनाएर भगाउन खोज्छ; दिउँसो चै धुलो खुवाएर अनि फेरि कहिले सिट्ठी हावाले हानेर । के के गरेर भगाउन खोज्यो; कत्ति मिठा मिठा प्रयत्न गर्यो, गर्दैछ तर नि म गइन र जान्न पनि | त्यसले मलाई चिनेकै छैन, उसले नअँगालेर के भो त? मैले अँगालिसकेको छु।मलाई त माथि पुग्नु छ; शिखरसम्म | जाने बाटो पनि उ बाटै हो अनि न अंगाल्नु पनि कसरी? कस्तो स्वार्थी भन्ठानु होला तर होइन है; मलाई उसको कोमलताले, निश्‍छलताले अंगालेको हो | बेलाबेला उसलाई फकाउन चित्रहरु बनाउने गर्थे | बिहान मलाई भगाउदैँ गर्दा तनमन सबै ठण्डा बनाई दिन्थ्यो तर म चाहिँ चित्रहरु दिउँसोसम्म बनाएर आफूलाई र उसैलाई पनि न्यानो बनाउन खोज्थेँ | यसरी बिहानबेलुका ठुस्स परेको बेला म भने सुत्ने बेलासम्म उसलाई न्यानो बनाएरै छाड्थेँ; आफ्नो तर्फबाट प्रयत्न गर्न छाडिनँ| उसले बिस्तारै मलाई स्विकार्दै थियो या भनौँ उसले भन्दा बढी मैले उसलाई चाहेर होला बिस्तारै ठण्डा हावाले मलाई हान्न छाडेको थियो | म बिहानै उठेर आफ्नो क्यानभास तयार पार्थेँ | मेरो साथीले भन्थ्यो,”संसारकै सबभन्दा सुन्दर कला चै चित्रकला हो।” अहिले मलाई पनि त्यस्तै लाग्छ।

हरबखत म चित्र बनाउन बस्दा आफूलाई नै लाटो बनाउन खोज्ने रै’छु | एउटा बनाउन खोज्दा अर्को आफैँ हुने | म त एउटै जीवनमा दुईओटा पात्र बाँचिरहेछु | असक्षम बनेर सक्षम कुराहरु र सक्षम भएर असामान्य कुराहरु देखाउन खोजिराखेको छु | लाग्छ असामान्य कुराहरु असक्षमहरुले बेजोडले गर्न सक्ने रैछन | उनीहरुले आफूलाई यतिसम्म सक्षम ठान्छन् कि अरुले उनीहरुलाई असक्षम देख्छन् | अनि असामान्य कुराहरु चाहिँ त्यो बेलाको निरन्तर साधनाबाट आउँदो रहेछ | कसरी कला सिर्जना हुन्छ भनेर सबैभन्दा ठुलो प्रश्न हुन्थ्यो सुरुमा तर पछि पछि चाहिँ गर्दै गएपछि तरिका थाहा हुदोँ रहेछ | सायद निरन्तर साधना भनेको नि यही होला | सुरुमा एउटा सोच आएपछि चाहिँ त्यसलाई कसरी उतार्ने भन्ने ठूलो चुनौती हुने रहेछ | मैले कोरेका रेखाहरुले कथाको मोड र चिनारीहरु देखाएनन् भने, मैले कोरेका आकृतिहरुले पात्रहरु चिनाएनन् भने, मैले लेप लगाएका रङ्गहरुले उसका अनुहार उतारेनन् भने त्यो बनाएकै के मतलब भयो र? क्यानभास मात्रै भरेर के गर्ने यदि त्यसले केहि बोलेन भने; कसले सुनिदिने ? फेरी चित्रलाई हेरेर आफैँ विश्लेषक बन्न त पाइयो तर पनि आफुले सोचेको त उत्रिनु पर्र्यो नि | पछि जसले जे भनिदिन नि पायो तर यो काले कामी अथवा कामी काले हो भनेर त बुझाउन सक्नु पर्यो नि, होइन र? पछि बुझ्ने ले कामी काले थियो वा काले चै आमी कामी थियो वा कामीहरु काला भए वा काला भएर उनीहरुलाई कामी भनियो जे बुझे पनि भयो तर कामी र काला चै देखिनु पर्यो नि हैन र ? काला र कामी सोचेसी अब उनीहरुलाई उतार्नु पर्यो | तपाईंले म बोलिराखेको सुन्नु भा होला हैन तर त्यसो होइन किनभने यो मेरो मनले संकेत गरिराखेको छ | म त अहिले लाटो भैसके; अझ अपाङ्ग भैसकेको छु; सामान्य कुरा सबैले गर्न सक्दैन भन्छन्| त्यसैले त म असामान्य कुरा गर्न खोजिरहेको छु। | अनि त्यसपछि केहि घोटिन थाल्छन्; आफूमै बिलिन थाल्छन्; कोहि, केहि बनून् भन्दै आफ्नो बलिदान दिन थाल्छन्; आफू वीर क्रान्तिकारी हुँ भन्दै अनि आफ्नो बलिदानको स्वरुप रगतका रेखाले आकृति बन्दै जान्छन् | यसरी बन्छ कि मानौँ समाजवाद र पूँजिवाद उत्रिन्छ; शोषक र दमनकारीसँग क्रान्तिवीरहरु सँगसँगै उभिएर आँखामा आँखा जुधाउछन्; समाजवाद मोडियो अथवा केहि बाटो बिरायो भने लोकतन्त्रले गल्ति मेटाउँदै सिक्दै समिश्रण बनाउँछन् | विभिन्न रङ्गको पट्टि लाउँदै, अनुहार लेपाउँदै पत्रहरु चित्र भित्रै छर्लंग रङ्गजस्तै आवाज उठाउन थाल्छन् र आफ्ना भावनाहरु पोख्छन्| अनि प्रकाशको गतिसँगै आफ्नो कुराहरु फेरिरहन्छन; उसको मात्रा सँगसँगै | बुझ्नेले अर्कै बुझेका होइनन् त्यो त चित्रकारको खुबी हो प्रकाशको गतिसँगै आफ्ना कुराहरु फेर्न सक्नू | यी सबै आफै मनन् गर्दै गर्दा पो मनले भन्यो; के मा केर्छस् नि ? क्यानभास त हिजो रातिनै सक्किएको थियो | मैले कापीमा कोर्न थालेँ। पल्लो कोठाको दिदीले ढोका ढकढक्यादैँ भन्नुभयो,” बाबु यहाँ हेर्न आऊ त मेरो छोराले कस्तो राम्रो चित्र बनाएछ |” उसको छोरालाई मैले चित्र कोर्न सिकाउँथे। यसो अलि अलि पाकेट खर्च हुन्थ्यो त्यसो गर्दा | हिँड्दा हिँड्दै सोचे सानेको क्यानभास लिएर चित्र कोर्छु | तर मैले गएर हेर्दा म नै पो अचम्म परे | सानेलाई कत्ति मन पराएको यो ठाउँले; कटु लाएर दौडिनथ्यो तर पनि उसलाई कहिल्यै चिसो बनाएन यो ठाउँले | अनि अलि ईर्ष्या पलाउँथ्यो यस ठाउँको भेदभावप्रति | सानेको चित्र हेरेर मैले बुझे मसँग किन ठाउँ ठुस्किएको रहेछ | सानेले त्यसै ठाउँलाई आफ्नो क्यानभास मानेर चित्र कोर्दो रहेछ | उसको झयालमा त सँधै त्यस ठाउँले बाफको लेपन लगाउँदो रहेछ अनि सानेले त्यसैमाथि आफ्नो चित्र कोर्दो रहेछ | बाफलाई काउकुती लाग्ने रहेछ अनि बाफ छुँदा बाफ लजाएर त्यहाँबाट हट्दो रहेछ। एउटा आकृति बनाइदिदोँ रहेछ; अरुले फेरी नछुओस् भनेर| जति पटक कोर्नुपर्यो त्यति पटक बाफलाई काउकुती लगाउनु पर्ने रहेछ | केहि बाफले बाटो धेरै नै हटिदियो भने बाफलाई फेरी त्यहि फ्याल्नु पर्ने रहेछ | सानेले मलाई फू फू गर्दै बाफ फ्याल्न सिकाईरहेको थियो | गजबको कला सिकाको थियो सानेले मलाई | अझ कला भन्दा एउटा पाठ पनि पढाएको थियो | रफ स्केच गर्नु छ भने यसरी बायोडीग्रेडेबल सामानहरु पनि प्रयोग गर्दा हुने रहेछ भनेर | त्यसदिन पछि हावालाई झ्यालमा लेपाउने बितिक्कै म त्यसलाई क्यानभास मानेर कोर्न थालिहाल्थेँ | त्यसपछि त मलाई खास्सै चिसो सिट्ठी हान्न छोड्यो | चिसो सिट्ठी हन्नासाथ म बुझिहाल्थे कि मलाई क्यानभास बना भन्यो भनेर अनि त्यसपछि मलाई न चिसो सिट्ठी हान्थ्यो न त धेरै नै जाडो हुन थाल्यो | मलाई अरुजस्तै त्यस ठाउँले अंगाल्न थाल्यो र भन्यो त्यो क्यानभासमा जहिलै कोरीराख्नु है।

What if

It baffles me how humans have made it this far. From primates who taught themselves to hunt, communicate, and form a community with superior intellectual beings capable of sculpting material things out of literal trash, building weapons of mass destruction, and ultimately questioning their own existence. Though the transition took about 6 million years (give or take), the feat is actually quite impressive and intriguing, to say the least. As millennia have rolled over, there have been a lot of changes that are evident between us and our ancestors. Physically, we were more robust and agile in the past. Our brain sizes were bigger, and we were stronger. As Darwin dictates, we were selected by nature itself to lay waste to other species and thrive. However, there’s a commonality between us: we are curious. Our first ancestors discovered fire, invented the wheel, and created spears and weapons out of curiosity, and it is the same curiosity that will lead us off our planet, this blue dot. Into, hopefully, oblivion, where someday we can find the meaning of our existence.

But what exactly is the meaning? Why are we here at this precise moment and precise point in space? Were we created for something? Or did we just exist? If we were in fact created, why so? What grand purpose did it serve, and what purpose does it still serve? These are the questions that I’ve spent countless sleepless nights trying to find conclusions for, but to no avail. Humans, in their curiosity, found fire, tools, weapons, religion, and ultimately science as a counterbalance to their curiosity. However, no matter what discoveries and revelations we make, the thirst for knowledge and curiosity will never be quenched.

One of the major influential factors in human segregation and progress over the centuries has been religion. Religion has played a major role both in uniting and segregating humans. Over the centuries, there have been thousands of religions on earth. Like action figures, the gods come in different shapes and sizes; each with its own unique traits and nuances. Gods like Brahma, Vishnu, Maheshwara, Mohammed, and Christ are all too familiar to us. Their omniscience knows no bounds, and they are worshipped by millions. According to their devotees, we are their creations. But what if the gods are creations themselves? What if gods were actually created by organisms of higher existence and capability? What if gods were actually created by…us?

It seems like a stretch, but it is quite plausible if you think about it. Millions of years from now, we Homo sapiens will reach the point of our existence where we will be the creators of intellectual lives ourselves. The creations will become the creators, if you will. The progress of science and technology will reach such heights that things such as time travel, flying cars, light-speed propulsion, and anti-gravity ships will look like ancient artifacts to us. So, what is stopping us from thinking that humans created these figureheads called ‘gods’, beings of absolute power and omnipotence, and placed them at the right time and in the right place to manipulate their past selves? What is stopping us from envisioning that these “gods” are nothing but pawns in the grander game of the universe? What if, in addition to gods, major figureheads of human history such as Einstein, Hitler, Gandhi, Aurelius, Shakespeare, Napoleon, Newton, Feynman, Columbus, Mussolini, Bin Laden, and so on were actually created by future humans and placed perfectly at precise moments of time in human history? What if they were placed as such to teach humans a specific lesson at designated periods of time? Hitler taught that giving power and authority to a single person could prove fatal to an entire nation, or even the world. Einstein taught us that the human mind knows no limit since we’re all blessed with an innate quality known as ‘curiosity’. Gandhi taught us to fight for what is right. Aurelius taught us that happiness in a person’s life comes from within, there is nothing external that the universe provides that can satisfy a human more than when he is content within himself.

Furthermore, what if the first early men, who discovered fire, were genetically engineered specimens from our future selves? What if the mere conception of curiosity is creation itself? What if it is a component that is hardwired within us? But the question is not what if. The question is why? If future humans have surpassed the gods themselves, then why are they doing all this? Is there a meaning to all this? Are they themselves serving another giant purpose after all? What if, in the faraway future, billions of years from now, the human race was doomed to monotony? What if, after years and years of advancement, existence, and creation, humans lost all perception of right and wrong? What if humans themselves transitioned from loving, understanding creatures to cold-hearted, mindless “robotlike” beings where segregation was eliminated? There was one supreme ruler who ruled over us as a tyrant, giving orders and making us suffer. No segregation? Living all as one? You may say that does sound like a utopia. No wars, no violence, nothing. But if you ask me, that would be the closest thing to hell that can be imagined. I ask you this: would you be tempted to live in a world where there are no feelings? The very thing that drives us? What about happiness? Ask a woman how happiness feels when she’s brought in a new life that she’s nurtured for about nine months. What about love? Ask a man/woman about the longing to see their partner after a very long day at work, to find the warmth of their hug after they’re home; what is love? But what about sorrow? Would you want that too? Of course, ask a man or woman how they feel at the loss of a loved one. But don’t forget to ask them how they’ve kept themselves strong amidst all the pain and hardship that they’ve endured. How’ve they grown? The victory of a hero is meaningless without a villain. After all, happiness and sorrow complete each other. The thing is, humans have never been able to thrive in monotony and tyranny. Feelings such as love, sorrow, happiness, emptiness, and curiosity transcend everything that is imaginable, and they are the tools to shape a better future. They’re gifted to all living beings by nature itself.

So, what is life if there is no living? So, in the end, what if some rebels, in defiance of this tyranny, took it upon themselves to create gods, men, and godlike men and send them far off into the depths of the past to induce segregation, induce feelings about what’s good and right, to induce curiosity and passion, so that the future doesn’t seem bleak after all? What if these humans are not ready to let go of all that is “human”? What if we are the saviors of our own doom? What if we are the final hope for ourselves? What if we are the final cry? The thing is, we may never know. However, as the hourglass grains fall, the tides turn, and new life emerges with each passing second, as the earth rotates a million times over and revolves the sun a billion times, and the sun itself revolves a trillion times until we are literally alone in this universe, we eventually will.

Maya; Dream

Three years ago

I moved back home today after spending six months living in a college dorm. When I went
home, my mother and Mrs. Sharma were there. Mrs. Sharma is our family friend and neighbor,
who lives 10 minutes away. Although I admire her, I find it repulsive that she consistently shows
up at our place when I return home or when something significant happens. Did she possibly
foresee my impending return? I firmly believe that she did. Warm hugs were given to me. After
that, I took shower, and then returned to see my mother and Mrs. Sharma. My mother was laughing and chatting with Mrs. Sharma. I waited on the sofa as my mum prepared a cup of coffee for me.
The aches from travel always lessened after taking a sip of it.
‘Do you remember what I questioned you about on the day of your engineering entrance result,
Maya’? A minute later, Mrs. Sharma questioned me.
The vivid memory of the disappointing event once more flashed before my eyes.

Five years ago

Have you played hopscotch before?
Yes, I answered.
Why is Mrs. Sharma questioning me in this manner? Did she notice the tears that were rolling
down my eyes? I did my best to contain my tears, but I was unable to do so. Or perhaps she
noticed the disappointment in my parent’s eyes at my performance. She undoubtedly witnessed
the anxious nights I spent getting ready for the entrance, so perhaps she is attempting to
empathize with me.
She recognized my brows furrowing and inquisitive eyes. She gave me a head pat, grinned, and
then returned to the kitchen, where my parents were already seated. Neither I nor she sought to
grasp what she was trying to communicate. I lingered on the porch with a cup of coffee and an
endless supply of thoughts. I couldn’t crack the engineering entrance exam. For me, studying
math and physics has always been troublesome. I anticipated this happening and had previously
made preparations for today, but seeing the disappointment in my parent’s eyes made me feel
unqualified to plan my own future. They haven’t spoken a word to me about the outcome,
perhaps due to Mrs. Sharma’s presence.  Why would any parent chastise their kid in front of
someone else?

Three of my cousins are studying engineering on full scholarships, while two of them are in
medical school. No, my competence was not questioned, but neither were my parents’ statements ever motivating to me. This made me doubt my independence, despite the fact that some of my cousins are younger than I am.

It’s been two years. I tried my best to avoid drawing attention to myself and haven’t been myself
up until today. I’m unable to look myself in the eye. Despite doing all in my power to be the best
version of myself, I have a constant fear of taking the next step. I resembled the crumbling
structure that can never be rebuilt to be what it once was.
Oh god! How many thoughts pass through the mind in a split second?
I never gave her question a second consideration, so I can’t comprehend why she would still be
asking me it two years later. She recognized my silence once again. “In order to complete the
game of hopscotch, you must maintain balance and move from step to step. The game must be
fun for you to advance. If you put pressure on yourself, you might succeed in the first level, but I
can tell you that you will lose your equilibrium after a while. Prior to all of that, you must be able
to correctly draw the hopscotch diagram. Maya, you must have self-assurance, proceed
cautiously, have faith in yourself, and take pleasure in any game you play. You must find joy in
it, I say again”.
She was taking it somewhere, I know where.
“You’re too young to change who you are and let your spark fade. Simply be assured of yourself,
and consider only yourself”. She grinned as she patted my head again. “Despite the fact that you
are no longer a baby, my little one, I have watched you grow and I still have faith in you. You
are the most beloved one of your parents, and they too have faith in you. Your name resembles
how significant you are to your parents, Maya. They may not have expressed it to you, but they
admire and believe in you. The design or drawing of your journey is entirely up to you. Simply
have confidence in yourself right now and don’t be frightened to engage in the start-and-stop
game of life”.
Mrs. Sharma left me thinking while leaving again to go where my mother was. When I reflect, I
see that the incident was only a little one in my life, but because I didn’t develop self-assurance
and faith in the wake of it, I was left helpless.

I simply wasn’t able to pass the engineering admission exam, not that my entire life is over.
Honestly, I did think too much. I’m a microbiology undergraduate student now. Yes, the faculty I
worked so hard to get into is very much different from the faculty I currently am studying.
Regardless of it, I am the same person, over thinking has caused my enjoyment to become hazy,
but I won’t allow it now. Even though I have scars from previous experiences, I’m willing to
concentrate on improving myself today compared to yesterday.
How could someone’s words make you feel so uneasy that you are now striving to be your best
self, not trying, but you’re working on it now, that you’re not frightened to take the second step
once more? It was a minor incident in my life that started out horrifying but ended up being
magical. Perhaps it is the trials of life. You can sometimes lose and sometimes win. The most
important thing is to embrace the outcome in order to actually experience it.
So master the rules to play the game of life. Embrace it and don’t forget to discover your Mrs.
Sharma, despite the fact that she occasionally disgusts you. (Crowds cheer and laugh)
Guys, life has so much to offer. Much more than what you can possibly ask for.
Standing in front of a sizable crowd and recounting a little episode in her life that turned out to
be magical, she finally convinced the crowd that the damaged building could be repaired and
designed more elegantly if given a second opportunity.

Maya began studying for her doctorate in microbiology at Cornell University, one of the top
universities, on a scholarship.
This is only one example of overcoming dysfunctional perceptions and becoming the person you
have always pictured. We don’t have to be anything other than ourselves, and we should
appreciate who we are wholehearted. Embrace life’s journey and strive to improve yourself on
both good and bad days.
 Let the trials of life make you a giant, not a midget. – Warren Wiersbe

Subtle Dystopia

Human civilization has transcended from the era of hunters and gatherers to the forefront of the fastest technological advancement, the world has ever seen. Our kind has excelled simultaneously in literature, history, culture, and medicine; and with that, we’ve been blessed with enhancements to our lifestyles and quality of life. The purpose of we humans has extended beyond the sole focus of survival. We venture out to explore the unknown and in our endeavors of doing so; discover new things that will serve as a tool to further our understanding and probe our sphere of knowledge and create new concepts. Dystopia is one such concept.

“An imagined state or society in which there is great suffering or injustice, typically one that is totalitarian or post-apocalyptic.” as defined by the Oxford Dictionary. Although the word “Dystopia” may sound fancy, its meaning is quite harrowing. A post-apocalyptic society where our civilization lay waste with utter annihilation and imminent threat of extinction. As unlikely as it seems, one cannot help but think about the foreseeable future events where our technology brings our own destruction. Be it due to a nuclear fallout caused due to the weapons of mass destruction that we pointed at one another to settle our differences in ideologies, due to an indestructible disease or virus which evolved to become such a side-effect of our advancements in health and technology, or due to a rogue super-advanced Artificial Intelligence crafted from sophisticated technology that we will inevitably create.

Whatever the cause of our speculative dystopian world may be, we always imagine it to be in the distant future; where we won’t be alive to face it. Most of us don’t even take a second to consider the possibility that our perception of the word dystopia may have been exaggerated by the highly imaginative minds of those who have had influence over the mainstream media. There is a likelihood that our thoughts might have been obscured by the fancy description of what is to come. We fail to realize that, perhaps, in between our waiting for the arrival of that dystopian future, our civilization has already been plagued by a subtle dystopia that we’ve been too blind to notice.

It might be due to our fear of being disillusioned by the grand concepts of dystopian fiction that we romanticize so much, or our trend of gradual acceptance of trends that cause the detriment of our society, which has caused us to not recognize it. But it doesn’t debunk the odds of us living in a dystopian world; albeit subtle in nature. Perhaps, where we went wrong was in our failure to recognize that we don’t need some post-apocalyptic scenario, an unstoppable force of nature or a super advanced AI that is going berserk causing mayhem, for our society to be in a state of suffering or their inhabitants to be the victims of injustice. With the advent of the internet, technological advancements, and social media; we have been “blursed”; as the people of the internet say it (blessed as well as cursed). While it indeed has allowed us to exist in a higher state of living, it has also brought upon us the dystopia where there is no privacy, where everything is free but you are the product, where our mental well-being is surmounted by the thoughts of other people in the pyramid of our priority, where we are lingered by the phantasm of free will and freedom of thought; when in reality it is all heavily manipulated by the things we see on the internet.

The future doesn’t manifest itself. It is the actions of today that determine tomorrow. In that perspective, the dystopian future that we imagine cannot rise out of anywhere. Every plant that will grow tomorrow has its seeds planted today. The subtle dystopia that we speak of; might be that seed. We might have inadvertently created the perfect environment for future dystopia while waiting for it to happen or trying to prevent it. Just like how prophecies in myths are vague enough for people to end up fulfilling them on the mission to avert it, our subtle dystopia might be the gateway to opening the floodgates for the real dystopian world and dystopian disaster yet to come. We are already trading our mental well-being and our data in exchange for likes and shares on some social media platforms. We are allowing ourselves to be surveilled by people who know each step that we take and each activity we do. We are allowing our life’s history to be at the disposal of emotionless companies which in conglomeration have the ability to know what we did, and what we are doing. The scary part: predict what we are about to do.

While you’re reading this, In a data center, bytes of data are being uploaded; every bit of information received is being used to more accurately model your thought patterns and behaviors and to research how big corporations can change your decisions. It knows you’ve clicked on the site where this article was published. It also knows where the author was while he was writing this. And that’s only the part that we know. Imagine what is happening behind the confidential walls. Who knows that somewhere in this subtle dystopian world, a bunch of people is brewing a breakthrough technology with noble intentions? But unbeknownst to them, it may bring about the dystopia that we all fear. It may be wild speculation but the chances of it being a hazard that we are too oblivious to notice are equally possible.

The unnerving part of this terrifying delirium which makes it a subtle dystopia is not the fact that the people do not know about this. It is a fact that we choose to ignore all that is happening and turn a blind eye to it. For we have no solution that the people are willing to adopt to avert the oncoming disaster. At this stage, we are sitting ducks brooding the eggs of disaster, unaware of the prowling monster lurking at the threshold of our civilization which will snatch us unaware and drag us spiraling down the turbulent path to the ultimate dystopian future unless we do something about it.

However, all is not yet lost. Never in our historical past have we been successful in establishing a society free of problems. Utopia is practically unachievable and with the realization, we can all work against our flaws that have not yet caused irreversible damage—realizing that our foe isn’t some distant dystopian future but the subtle dystopia of today will be our greatest strength for a steady fast recovery.