This was the time when trees shred their leaves. It was winter when the nights are longer than the days. Ramesh who had just cleared his fifth semester exams was waiting for his college to start for next semester.
Ramesh was short guy, a bit unsure of his being, a bit less confident. However he dreamt of the good life that would follow post completion of his engineering. Things were going good until he fell in love with a girl from his college. The problem was not about the love but about the time of love. It was year 1991, the year which made headlines because of the blasts.
Salma was the name of Ramesh’s beloved. A shy cultured and a beautiful girl. The affair went on for a month. However the story was to be short lived as parents of both Salma and Ramesh were killed. They forgot each other in the turmoil which followed. Salma’s relatives in Hyderabad ensured she is taken care by them and not left to the streets. Ramesh was not so lucky with relatives. He lived in a nuclear family in Mumbai and was not attached to his extended family.
Ramesh continued his studies by working part time as a STD PCO operator. It was those days during which mobiles were not a common place. He used to make around Rs. 2000 / – per day. With no whatsapp, no telephone (mobile), and no social media it was difficult for Ramesh to find and more difficult to establish connect with Salma. Ramesh did try to find her in mosques, in temples and all those places he could think of.
Slowly and steadily both Ramesh and Salma started picking up the loose ends of their lives went on with life. During his next 6 years, Ramesh ensured he focuses on work and get on with a life he had dreamt (may be without Salma). Ramesh did wonders in his career. He was promoted the very first year he joined a multinational technology company. This was the time when India was being liberated and offered ample opportunities to the employees
Salma unfortunately was guarded more than required. She was not allowed to study further and was required to help in household activities. She got married by the end of sixth year.
In the next three years. Ramesh rose the ranks of corporate world and Salma rose the ranks of her family life. Salma was no longer the carefree college going girl but was a responsible mother of two kids. This was year 2000 when the internet boom started.
Ramesh deep in his heart knew that he still loved Salma and that he would find Salma. Being in the IT industry; Ramesh launched a website to search old friends. It did not help him find what he was looking for. In 2003, social media came and Ramesh was able to find Salma.
To his surprise the world of Salma had changed. However that of Ramesh had not. He was stuck in time waiting for his beloved. Time had taken away what was the most precious for him. He was disoriented and distraught knowing nothing about what to do. He started walking at late nights just to see the stars and wondering if these stars and moon do not change their positions and promises how could she. He felt betrayed and powerless. He tried to speak to Salma and force her to comeback but Salma was not one of the faint hearted. She could not betray someone now just because a person she used to like who she assumed to be dead has come back.
Ramesh started reading and roaming. He took break to understand the purpose of his life. He could not find any – until a time when he was sitting on the banks of Ganga. He could see people being burnt to ashes. He started coming here as he could find solace that he deeply desired. He observed a young girl sitting next to the fire every night.
One fine evening Ramesh went and tried to find out of curiosity what this girl was upto. Ramesh noticed that the girl was holding a book. On further discussion with the girl, Ramesh came to know that since her house does not have electricity or money to afford lamps; the only place where she could make good of her time was by reading books at this place.
Ramesh thought to himself – he was here to find a solace from love burnt by time while she was here to seek knowledge by using the light of burnt bodies. He though it as a strange coincidence but realised that everyone wants something – he thought why can’t one not be in a wanting phase. Even the dead body required woods, oil, etc. to be cremated with all rights.
That day Ramesh thought to himself he will fight himself and live a fulfilling life not for himself but those that needed help. He thought he had lot to give back and lot of suffering to end before he could say good bye.
Ramesh started his journey and in the process started giving back wholeheartedly. In the process of giving back he started realizing that he not only felt happy but the world responded him with all what he had earlier desired and thought that only hard work could achieve that. He started participating in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities logging time. This was the time when Company Act mandated CSR contribution. He became champion of CSR in his organisation
On personal level also he cleared all the legal maze and started adoption. His small house which used to house only him was now a playground from 3 children. He named his three children as Amar, Akbar and Anthony – as if he wanted to say to world that the world is not divided but one.
Akbar was eldest of them. The world treated him as Muslim though he was not. Similarly Amar and Anthony – the world treated them as Hindu and Christian but deep down they were not sure. Over the years, they started accumulating the bearings of respective religions. They started contributing in their own way to the respective religion. Sooner he found that right wing of the respective religions had often targeted people like Amar, Akbar and Anthony – who did not had much dependent and were individuals with capability of mass destruction
Ramesh was now old. He thought he was unsuccessful – the world that he had created was swept back by the world of differences. His ivory tower was deranged by the deep cracks of the foundation. He thought to himself why did he raise Amar, Akbar and Anthony. Was it a selfish desire to have a meaning for his life? Or was it a do good at heart?. It was not an easy question for him at this time. His answer could have a devastating effect on whatever he had thought until now. The various acts of giving, suddenly made him feel that he was being selfish in all those acts.
He lost the purpose once again.
He conversed with himself – is it necessary to have a purpose. What is a life without a purpose? He thought to himself seeing a fish in the lake – why has he got this ability to think. Can he just not swim the day and enjoy life. Why has he got superior powers which are detrimental to his existence? So what should I do to survive he thought – just swim around like a fish? Is there a switch by which he could turn off the intellectual knob?
While he mused all these thoughts – and was trying to get an answer on purpose of his life; something strange was happening around. He read that robots are being developed to do mundane tasks. Robot was launched by a company to do all mundane repetitive activities like cleaning, errands, email response etc. He thought humans are killing the opportunity of swimming like fish. He can no longer survive by swimming like a fish he thought.
Years went by but he could not find an answer. Increasingly robots became common place – and were found everywhere including on bed. People started living a virtual reality. People started becoming eccentric. The human values started depleting. Everyone has a small world of his own the way he wanted. Laws were enacted to protect these small worlds. One good thing about these small individual worlds were that people no longer belonged to a religious community, no longer to a nation and no longer to humanity. Ramesh reassessed his thoughts on “no longer to humanity” – is it a good thing
He went back to 1991 blasts – he asked were those killings better. At least people had a sense of belonging in those days. Things are always viewed in perspectives. Though he had lost everything in 1991 – he still thought he had everything. He at least had ears who listened to his plight. He at least had hope that he would find Salma. He at least had the beautiful feeling that someone used to love him and wanted him to be hanging around. Today no one cares for anyone – during those days he had someone support his education. He was able to sail through.
Getting a cue from support, he thought can he not support someone and expect nothing in return. He planned of growing Mango trees. Mango trees do not provide fruit for a long period of time. This also fits into his ideology of support without expectation. He started planting mango trees on roads and any open area he had access to. His daily work involved watering these plants. Days passed, Weeks passes, months passed and years became just a number as he continued with his duty. The saplings which he had planted were now trees. These trees started bearing bruits. They also started being house to hundreds of creatures.
Ramesh was very old but happy – he thought he has done something which would help someone be it creature. Suddenly, someone came and asked him – “Sir, can I get the contract of watering these trees; I can do this for as little as 1 Bit coin for each plant”. The currency had changed in the robotic world. It was no longer the humble Rupee but Bitcoin just as the human gardener was to be replaced by a robotic gardener.
He first tried to shoo him; but the Robot was a persistent marketer – he was trained to do that. He used to comeback every 10 days with a novel concept to get the contract. The next time he came – he said he would do the gardening for free by selling the fruits gathered from the trees. Ramesh shooed the robot again. He did this for couple of time – until one day when the Robot came and started talking to him about his life.
The Robot this time had done a thorough research. Robot spoke to Ramesh about his family, about Salma, about the 1991 blasts, about his adopted children and their children and much more than what Ramesh knew about himself. Ramesh got instantly interested in the Robot. Ramesh wanted to befriend him. Ramesh thought like he has got the company that could be with him for the next few years. Ramesh gave away the gardening contract to Robot. It did a good job of maintaining the garden and also taking care of Ramesh’s emotional support.
Nevertheless, Robot was a controlled machine – capable of doing what was commended to it. Also there were classes of robot some smarter and some dumb. This was the smarter robot. After winning the contract and servicing the gardening contract for initial years it left for further work hunting spree. It handed over the repetitive code to the dumb robots.
Ramesh was very old and crippled – he thought to himself the world has changed and so is he. The only regret if any was that he could not get the Robot converted to a human being. He could not get a companion who could last until his death.