They are claiming it to be a human marvel, they are going to put you up as the ‘TIME: Person of the Year’, the decade and what not. You have hit it big boss!”, said my assistant, who had no idea of what I had actually been doing for the past twenty years of my life. He was the son of my father’s personal assistant. I had known him for the longest time I have probably known any person on this planet. It was only at my father’s request that I had kept this half literate, dim-witted, lanky figure so as to serve me when I needed service which literally, I hardly needed. I walked through the dingy passage, out of the wormhole that I worked in and saw it under the wraps. Though it didn’t look as majestic as the newspapers had described it, somehow it gave me great joy - not because I built it but because it was about to change the course of human history. With all of these thoughts playing like a philharmonic orchestra in my mind, I paced down a little further where I met the security cordon in–charge who checked my belongings twice and then, with a quite nonchalant smile tucked to the right chin of his face, cleared me to go. It was drizzling down memories and with that flow of nostalgia gushing through me, I soon found myself sitting in my armchair of a vintage ancestral mansion which only had one resident left.
It started my routine of the night, I sat and it sat in front of me. A magnetic audio tape with a recording of a husky voice which seemed to be of my father’s. Whisky was there too. The thing about whisky is that it’s a kind of a drink which can channel your imagination out on the drawing room and make it live, eat and breathe. I pressed ‘play’.
“So, you have come again …”, It started my father’s blabbering. The introductory tape of my father, where he describes himself to me. A pompous speech about his science, his glory, his achievements about how he had been able to change science. It went on and on and after exactly 10 minutes of this ruckus, he told me to direct my attention to all the important matters that he wanted me to take care of when he was gone and then suddenly with a dramatic shift in both his character and voice he starts telling me that there are more cassettes like these which are his opinions, rather self-important dissertations, of how he sees different aspects of life and how others fail to see it. I let it play every time for about fifteen minutes and then it gets on my nerves and I leave it. These days, I fast forward it to about ten minutes and listen about five minutes of his thoughts on death. That is the only thing probably that he bowed down to.
The cellular rings, I pick it up. The commentary plays on in the background. The furnace heats up akin to my temper when I have this useless assistant of mine on the other side of the phone. Somehow, I shut his weird queries down and then realise, I have lost eight minutes of my precious time. The tape was still running but with silence. It was weird for I never knew this side of my father. Silence was probably the one thing that was never found in his life, either he would address an audience full of claps or create noise about how mother earth had done herself a favour by having him. Rapid bursts of notes hit through the temporal lobe of my brain and I finally realise it is nothing but the sound of a violin.
And then he speaks, “Violin it is, you guessed it right. I don’t play it because Einstein did, don’t worry. I never copied things, I play it because it is the hardest to play. So, you have been through all the rubbish that I have laid down before you. My son, I am happy that you heard all of it and I am even happier to say that none of that even matters. That is for the world to see, hear and create my pen picture. For you though, I have something special to say. You are different. I knew it from the day you were born and as you were different and scientifically creative, it was a joy to watch you grow. So I know that if there was one person whom I could impart this to, it would be you. As you turned years down your belt, I started thinking about when I should deliver this truth, which is the only truth that I have accumulated. It is strange son, but I never knew how to say this to you face to face. It is weirder that I have to tell you like this. But, listen to this son, it is important. You see, we all are looking at what we see, through a looking glass, though the illusion that it creates is such that it makes us believe that maybe there is some way in which we are in control of changing things, it is actually a lie. A completely false statement which has nothing but false information in.
There is this plan, the master plan, on which I am working for years. You know it, right? Your father’s so-called ‘greatest gift to mankind’. I built it, it works son. I tested it for five years and then, when the day of proclamation comes, I will decide against it. I, the self-pompous Dad of yours, will decide against the greatest creation of his life and will destroy it in silence. Not a drop will fall out of my eyes, you know why? It is because of this golden realisation that what has been done, has been done and nothing can alter it or the consequences that followed it. So, it is useless to give or send hope through those portals. Son, that will be …”, the voice seized.
The whisky didn’t work that night. I realised my father’s vision and ran. The first pit stop was my garage, then the seat of my car and then lastly my laboratory. I fast forwarded emergency entry through the security layers and finally arrived where the creation, which would change how men looked at the world, sat. My dim-witted assistant saw me in his dreamy state. Without giving him much notice, I rushed to the working table, looked at the green board. There were a number of articles pinned. Some of them read, “Mad-scientist dies in fire”, “Was the greatest invention invented at the hands of the wrong creator?”. Glancing through all those weird newspaper editorials, which I now knew never understood the gravity of what my mad-scientist had built, I went out to answer my father’s final call, matching his end step by step.
I woke the dimwit up and with his help switched on the whole device in silence sans grabbing almost no eyeballs of the people around. My research team had left the laboratory early that night, and so it was me and my assistant and our fate. My assistant watched as to what magic was going to be conjured and soon, to his dismay, I nibbled my pace up and pressed the little button. The machine blurted and, as expected, my assistant never understood a thing. The only reaction he gave with a silly laugh across his face was, “Sir, I guess you pressed the red button in sleep, he he”. The red button was the self-destruct button and with this, I had joined my father in the ‘Mad Scientists’ list, with a debt of about 1 billion dollars and got myself in the bad books of the whole scientific contingency. Not to forget the thugs, the government and everyone who had a partial or wholesome interest in this project. Within a few seconds, the device was dead. And after the destruction of the device had been done, we started playing dimwit’s favourite game- burning the house down. And soon it was official, and my only friend in life became my only friend in afterlife.
The Herald, 15th August 2050
LIKE FATHER LIKE SON –NO HOPE FOR TIME TRAVEL ANYMORE
“Last night, in a fire at the National Institute Of Space And Time Laboratory, a Nobel prize-winning scientist, the Head of Research on the working prototype of the time machine, had allegedly burned the whole laboratory down. This included the research and every subsystem which was associated with the building of the time machine. It was a case of sheer madness where the scientist took both himself and his assistant to the grave. The machine, which was about to be unveiled today in front of all people here in the capitol, is now no more. The strange coincidence about this incident is the fact that exactly some twenty-five years back, a similar kind of fire had destroyed another prototype of the time machine ….”
Sketch By: Kislaya Sinha