It was an autumn afternoon when Shreshtha was sitting in his balcony basking in the glorious sun. He was happy because he was going to get the grants from the government for his dream project next morning. With a sigh of relief after a long struggle; he could now perceive his desire! That night he went to bed early but butterflies in his stomach kept titillating him and then the dawn was at the doorsteps of the most important and awaited day of his life.
Next morning he went to grant office and with a mixed feeling of joy, excitement and fret. He entered the room unsure about how to proceed. The officer gave him a whimsical look and asked him to take a seat. A lawyer was already seated in a chair next to hisstaring at him with a smirk.
Shreshtha could no longer bear the silence and said, “Sir I am Shreshtha, the scientist from Dr. Ravi’s lab and I requested you for the grants to make this planet a better place. I was extremely happy to hear from you guys and now I am here, what formalities do I need to complete?”
The officer and the lawyer exchanged a glance and then the officer turned towards Shreshtha, “look young man we appreciate your zeal and enthusiasm for work and for betterment for the world but…” and this was the word “BUT” which struck Shreshtha like a lightening tearing apart his soul and ripping his heart out. He felt tongue tied and ran out of words. Then gaining his composure back and struggling through words he asked, “But! What is the problem?”
the lawyer interrupted taking charge of the conversation and proceeded further to shatter Shreshtha’s dream further, “Son your proposal appears great but we doubt we can allow this. Your proposal has a viral mutation which can be dangerous to mankind! We are extremely sorry.”
Shreshtha could not believe what he had just heard. He froze in his chair for a minute. But then he was so vexed that he went out of the room silently.
That night he could not sleep, he just turned over and over in his bed but found no peace. He felt as if the world has ended. Holding his proposal in his hands he kept staring at it he recalled the moment when he had decided to work on the project.
It was a Saturday afternoon when he was relaxing in his apartment when his age old friend Raghav returned from his space tour after three months. He told Shreshtha about the wonderful experience and showed him a journal he got lying in the spaceship on his return to earth. He went through the pages of the journal and as he went on reading them he giggled as it seemed somebody was joking with them. It had weird stuff irrelevant to think about. But there was one interesting thing that the scientists had discovered foreign bacteria which reached the planet along with the spacecraft.Shreshtha got interested in it and studied it for two years, ultimately coming up with the idea that this virus can do wonders to mankind and our mother nature!
And that was the day when he made his dream proposal but…with tears welling up his eyes Shreshtha tried to vanquish his breakdown. Next morning he went again to the grant office to give another try. But he did not succeed. Disgruntled Shreshtha moved out of the office, carrying an empty feeling, wishing it was just a bad horrifying dream. Dragging up his suffocated spirits which were almost killed an hour ago he drove back. But Shreshtha was so obsessed with his work that he could not give up so easily. He was restless but could not find a solution, when suddenly his eyes got stuck to an article about time travel in the newspaper. Reading which a fancy idea crossed his mind.
He came to know that there is a scientist Dr. R.S.Raman who has made a time machine for which a volunteer was required. But it was a risky task to travel through time in a new machine which was still under study! But not giving it a second thought he contacted the scientist and told him that he was interested in volunteering. Scientist called him up for a meeting the next day.
Shreshtha went up to the scientist the next morning. He was ready to travel at any cost because something in his mind was telling him to search for the answers in the future itself to prove the authority the worth of his idea. On reaching the lab Dr. Raman told him about his idea,
“Mr. Shreshtha I am glad you are here but before you decide to volunteer I would like to tell you all the pros and cons of the machine. The machine may or may not bring you back. You may get lost in some other dimension of time. There are more than three dimensions in space and we know little about them. So you have to be ready for all sorts of consequences down the road. I never force people for this. By the way what is that which made you volunteer for such a daunting task?”
Shreshtha smiled and said, “Sir it’s a road to my dream. That’s all I can say right now”.
Professor continued, “Well then, in that case you are welcome but you may also lose your identity from the time of advent of your journey or may get crushed in space too. If youare ready to volunteer, you may come next week. Get ready for the ride! All the best!”.
They shook hands and Shreshtha left .Excited and positive to obtain proof for his proposal. A week passed and Shreshtha was ready to move. He reached at Prof. Raman’s on the day of travel. Professor took him to a room where he saw a gigantic machine. Professor told him that the machine in front of him has enlarged a wormhole by increasing energy to produce a whirled window of time to let pass the body approximately at the speed of light. Shreshtha stood inside a titanium chamber and the professor closed the door wishing him good luck. As soon as he turned the knob to create a heavy speed tunnel, the journey began.
In sometime Shreshtha was at a place on velvet green farmland, a cool pleasant breeze was rolling over his body and he could feel the warmth of a soothing sun but ‘Hey!’ he thought! This looks like a dream an ideal world to be in, so fresh and beautiful. Lost in his deep thoughts he was moving ahead when suddenly he got stuck in his place seeing some creatures that looked like men but were still somehow different. Hiding in the woods he reached a patch of land where he found a building named The Gene Ancestors. Hesitant but curious to know he went inside. Moving in he saw few green robed people strolling with equipments in the passage.
Suddenly someone held him from the back, “Hey young man! You don’t seem to belong to this place, do you?”
Shreshtha froze on seeing half green half wheatish skinned stranger in front of him. Before he could react, the stranger said, “Come with me before anybody sees you. You are lucky. I got you”.
Though Scared he followed the man . Entering the chamber he read the name Dr.Simian, Senior scientist. His happiness had no bounds, maybe he was in the right place, he thought. As soon as he entered the chamber he had the glimpse of the room which left him enchanted. He could see how these green parrot people were… But they looked so similar to men and spoke our language! Dr.Simian offered Shreshtha a seat and asked him to make himself comfortable.
He then asked “Where are you from man? How did you reach here? And by the way don’t worry I am a geneticist and I know different species do exist somewhere far in another galaxy. You must be surprised to see me so calm seeing you. But here is a loop, my ancestors looked just like you and I have always believed that one day I would surely conclude my research”.
Hearing this Shreshtha could not resist but asked all what he had rotating in his mind.
He started off, “Sir, I don’t know if I am dreaming or all this is real. Neither do I know about your research but all I know is you have actually maintained a well balanced environment. You are blessed by mother nature and it’s visible. But the weirdest of all things is you consider me as a lookalike of your ancestors, then what made you guys so green!”
Smiling slightly Dr.Simian said “Look we are evolved species of Homo sapiens sapiens. Five thousand years ago, the evolution which was started by a viral infection turned out to be a boon for us. Or you can say that it was a way of Mother Nature to select her children to prosper in her lap. And since then we have been evolving and our race flourishing“.
Staring at the scientist with a blank expression Shreshtha uttered, “Sorry Sir but I am entirely unknown to this concept, kindly elaborate”.
Laughing off, the scientist continued, “Well see, there was this virus which invaded our planet thousands of years back and was later named genesivirus because it gave birth to whole new era of life on the planet.Let me tell you the whole story. It is said that a thermophilc bacteria Streptococcus nefar is was brought to our planet by some extra-terrestrial source and that turned out to be the host for a bacteriophage genisivirus. Until then genisiviruswas dormant as it did not get the apt host to multiply but with the advent of that alien bacteria. The temperature of planet was rising higher and higher day by day and it was eminent that the end was near. Luckily some scientist recognized this advancement and discovered the usefulness of the virus. This genesivirus had a gene located in its genome which was capable of inducing an amazing phenotype which had its benefits, in men those days.
But not everyone was resistant to that virus pathogenesis. Most of them started getting infected and were modified. The viral pathogenesis had its path to the stem cells. It directly modified the stem cells in men producing a replacement of a gene segment. This replacement then started spreading in the growing body and further passed on to the next generations. What this modification did, was that it led to production of an enzyme which could convert a certain part of CO2 inhaled, to glucose which was then used up by thebody. This glucose was not sufficient to run the body but acted as a supplement CO2release decreased. With time this further enhanced man’s ability to harness solar energy for the daytime. But we can’t save it for night and we need food for diet. But because the mutations are reversible we need to inject the virus at the time before birth to keep up with the trait. We culture this virus in our clinics. And that’s the reason you find us different from yourself!”
Totally enchanted by what Dr.Simian said, Shreshtha inquired, “But how you guys comforted the nature back again!?”
Dr.Simian continued,” Well!We have lot of technologies for that. We are master of our machines and not the slaves like our ancestors who had once hanged us to the verge of extinction. Okay! So here I go. Have you heard of Sequoia tree?” It’s a miracle tree which has been in existence since thousands of years but lost until its true potential was explored! It has advantage of storing CO2 from atmosphere and this helps in keeping balance of O2-CO2 levels around us. But because after the death of the tree, all CO2 was released in the atmosphere, symbiotic association of sequoia tree with an autotrophic bacteria was created which had the ability to stick to the roots of the tree and process stored CO2 and that gene has been inserted in many other plants. This turned out to be a boon for us ”.
Interrupting him Shreshtha said , “ Pardon me Sir, but don’t you think that could have left less land for agriculture purpose of food crops?”.
Dr. Simian started speaking , “Yes definitely but here is a nook . We carry out soilless farming of many crops needed for our daily requirement in our homes and places builtfor them which are called as pseudofarms . They carry out vertical farming where all you need is sunlight , plastic sheet and mineral rich spray and seeds to get soaked in and yield plants. We all have a minipseudofarm in our homes. It does wonder!”
Shreshtha was now realizing that the diary his friend has brought to him was his! Yes, it was real! And his joy had no bounds!
Suddenly a man entered the room and Dr.Simian got up introducing him as Dr.Retro and saying that he had to leave, Dr.Retro would take him to guest house and he would meet him at the dinner. Man appeared scurrilous, so Shreshta did not ask him anything but observed many unconventional things. He thought of penning it down in his dairy so that he can ask Dr.Simian at night on the dinner table and made an account of everything told by Dr.Simian that afternoon.
At the night they met for dinner, Dr. Simian asked “Well Shreshtha, are you comfortable here now!”
Shreshtha smiled and said, “Yes Sir, very much but there were few things I want to ask you. While going to the guest house I saw many people carrying boxes of platinum labeled with their names. That appeared quiet strange to me what could that be?”
Serving the food Dr. Simian started explaining, “Well those are energy bins. In our world we pay a part of our taxes in the form of energy. It’s an alternate currency everybody contributes to energy production from some renewable energy source mostly what people do is use bacteria to degrade the waste they produce and obtain bio-fuel from those bacteria which is used in small scale domestic processes and local area basic energy needs. This keeps people aware and responsible enough too.
Shreshtha could not believe that such a planet can exist even! Delighted by listening to all this and imagining how he may be able to save his planet one day and may be the scientist who started all this was he himself he proceeded “that’s amazing but I also observed some robot like structures roaming around! What were those?” “Oh they are Robocops. They are the best of all inventions; they check any imbalance in the surroundings. They have a range of biosensors used for detection of any imbalance in environment nearby and report to the central unit to keep a check on it”, Dr. said Smiling proudly.
After dinner Shreshtha returned and could not wait for the morning to get back to his dimension of time.
Next morning, he went up to Dr. Simian to thank him for his help he was now indebted to. There he saw Dr. Simian and Dr. Retro discussing something. Seeing him they stopped and Dr. Simian called him in. “Thank you so much Sir for your hospitality and help .I am leaving now. It was great meeting you.” Saying this he moved forward to greet Dr. Simian goodbye.
But Dr. Retro Suddenly stood up and sticking his eyes on him said, “look Mr. Shreshtha, do we really look so foolish that we would let our grand guinea pig go!“You have the genetic makeup of our ancestors and you are the lottery for us to reach up to the roots of our genus and complete our research. We can be gods of evolutionary biology .I am not going to let you go. You are my lucky experiment model you moron!” .
Laughing loudly both scientist captivated Shreshtha to carry out their further research on him to find out more about their origin, their ancestral genome!
This was the worst nightmare Shreshtha was experiencing. All his plans were crashed in a second! He felt like a fish pulled out of water! His life was over and he was nothing more than an experiment model! That’s sick but that was the truth! It was the end! He lost his existence too in his dimension of time and he could not do anything about it. Lying down on a couch locked up in a cage he closed his eyes praying that someday someone would find his diary and implement all what he could not and save his mother earth! But this contrivance had held him stuck away from his home.
Thinking this he got lost in some unseen world with a flame of hope lighting up his soul forever!