When I came home from work, there was a package on the dining table at my spot. As usual, my mother had not opened it respecting my privacy. I thought it must be a book that had come in for a review, but it was a surprise in waiting! A few months ago, my short story was shortlisted and was one in the Top 10 best short stories for the Amish Tripathi’s contest hosted by Write India, a Times of India initiative. It felt good and still does, to be appreciated by people who don’t know me and have only read what I have written. Maybe that is how they get to know me. Thinking that was of my share of fame and went on to working on my novel until today when I came home to find a certificate of appreciation from Write India and Times of India, along with a beautiful red Parker pen as a souvenir. I took some time out from gawking at the appreciation certificate and the Parker pen to write this thank you note to the people who conceived and worked on this idea of Write India and made it such a success and motivating writers like me. Also, huge thanks to those who proofread and suggested changes in my short story. Thank you so much 🙂
“There is no point in trying to make this person walk any further. He will only make others lag behind. I say, if they won’t wander off on their own, then we can leave them here. This is a safe point as other trekkers returning before us will see them here. But I warn you. We are not allowed to do this. If forest rangers get to know that I, being a guide, left two people in the middle of the jungle without any assistance, then they will slap a huge fine on my face and ban me from providing guidance to trekkers in future. Think about it and let me know what you want to do” saying this Abesh went to Srikanth, who was standing in a dilemma, and said “Don’t think too much. I know this is risky for both of us, but I don’t think that boy can even roll off the grass if we leave him and his girl here. His stamina is hopeless.”
Bewildered, Srikanth just nodded in agreement with Abesh and instructed Sudeep and Priyamvada to stay glued to the ground under a tree near water stream. An apprehensive group of trekkers decided to trek to the peak as soon as possible and return to the couple on the way back to fetch them. But as they moved forward, Abesh said “The way to go back is not the same. It is more like a detour. After we reach the peak, I will point you in the direction of a lonely blueberry tree which is quiet far from the peak, but if you keep descending in the same direction, you will reach the tree.” Everybody was staring at Abesh with narrowed eyes, questioning his intentions. Abesh said “Look, I know I told you that we would be returning by the same path. But had I not told like that, none of you would have agreed to leave them behind. I need to finish this trek and get back home too.” It seemed very obvious that nobody was buying his crap. The group was ready to go back the same way even if that meant not completing the trek.
“You don’t seem to be amateur trekkers. I know you will find your way through the grassland to the lonely tree and back to the stream which we crossed. We will meet there for lunch, along with Sudeep and Priyamvada. Once you guys start towards the lonely tree, I will go back to the couple and wait for you there. This is the only way by which you guys can complete the trek and I can take you all back safely without anybody noticing anything” said Abesh after a long duration of silence. They did not understand the logic Abesh gave, but nobody objected. They were concerned about the couple. He had suddenly become a shady guy who couldn’t be nudged off or refused. They finally agreed with him and continued their trek to the peak. They chose to trust him against their own will and moved at their own pace.
When they reached the peak, they dropped their backpacks and fell on the grass with clear sky above and unmowed lawn around them. They gulped water and munched on energy bars. The serene surrounding engulfed them and shunned their exhaustion as they stared into expanding horizon. Though it was sunny, none of them were in mood to go back. But they had to; at least for Sudeep and Priyamvada’s sake.
….When Mind woke up from its slumber, its favorite marble looked the same. Thinking that the life forms would not have utilized much of their gift, Mind peered down on the marble only to be startled. Some life forms were same as before and some had changed beyond recognition! They had even multiplied! With each life form leading its own life, irrelevant to what others were doing, everything seemed out of Mind’s control. Mind tried to bring all life forms back under its control, but in vain. It seemed like the young Mind had not recognized the power of the ability to decide it had granted to the life forms it created. Moreover, life forms didn’t want to be back under Mind’s control and resisted its every attempt. This made Mind wallow and weep recollecting about the time and energy it spent on its dearest creations.
Consoling itself, Mind started understanding every new development that had stemmed out of the powers it had granted and observed that these life forms could only decide for themselves and not for others. Also, they had not altered the surface of the marble much. Rejuvenated from earlier sleep, frustrated with life forms and determined to get them back under its control, Mind was up for playing games again and ready to take up this new challenge.
Mind observed life forms constantly. It liked some and disliked others. Then it changed their environment in favor of its favorite life forms. All the life forms which were liked by Mind survived this change. Some of the disliked ones couldn’t survive and some evolved to suit themselves better to the new environment unfavorable to them. Both groups struggled to live. It was exciting for Mind to observe them. After contemplating for a while, it set new rules to the games. Mind would sleep for certain duration and would wake up to choose its favorites. Then it would change the environment in favor of its favorites. Then again watch some of the disliked ones perish and others evolve. This game continued at its own pace with Mind as an unfair umpire as well as a sole player. With time, Mind grew up. Its powers increased even more and had changed the marble’s environment many times. At some places the surface of the marble was pocked and at some neat. In the process of testing its increasing powers now and then, Mind had even made changes to the surface of the marble. Once an idle and lackluster marble was now overloaded with nonstop activities.
Again Mind started losing interest in its own game. It wanted to test its limits. It wanted to outshine its earlier deeds. It longed for an unknown. It cringed in desperation unable to identify what it wanted. It wanted to tell it out to someone, but no one was found to understand it. Unable to withstand this….
Creator’s Image is my first short story. It is about my version of how this universe might have formed. This is just my version, not a scientific theory.