From Beyond

3rd October 2018: 5-year old Raja was blissfully playing with his toy car while his mother Savithri spoke over the phone with someone. Vroom! Vroom! He made noises, looking at his mother and laughing in glee when she told him to not to. It quickly became a game – he making noises and glancing at his mother, and she shaking her head with a smile as she kept talking over the phone. Raja ran to another room, all the while driving the car on the floor with his hand. Suddenly, a chocolate appeared beside him. He laughed in delight, for he was just a child and did not know that normally, things did not appear out of thin air. He tried to tear the cover of the chocolate but he couldn’t. Finally, he took it to his mother who looked at the chocolate in confusion. “I will call you back in some time. Something has come up.” She said and disconnected the call. She took the chocolate that Raja kept shoving near her face, saying “Open this!” “Now where did this come from? I did not buy it; neither did your father.” She wondered, looking at the chocolate in bafflement. She shrugged and sternly told Raja. “You cannot have this now. I will give you something else.” Raja threw a tantrum that would make any 5-year old proud. Savithri talked to a mile and finally managed to thwart his attention. When she threw the chocolate in the dustbin, she spared a single thought of confusion for it and promptly forgot about the same.  4th October 2018: “Raja, do not go near the cake! Wait patiently. Arnav will cut it shortly, okay!” Savithri gently pulled back Raja as he kept drifting towards the cake kept on the table. It was the birthday of Arnav, Raja’s friend and neighbor. The room was filled with balloons and kids were yelling their lungs out. Amidst the din, harassed parents chuckled as they tried to talk but could not even hear each other. The kids played with the balloons while the parents watched them. “Look!” Raja came to his mother and showed her a golden coloured balloon. “I got this one!” “Huh.” Arnav’s mother who was standing there looked at the balloon in surprise. “I do not remember having this balloon. We had specifically brought red and white coloured ones.” She smiled at Raja. “Where did you find this one?” “It came into my hands.” Raja said in delight. Arnav’s mother smiled and ruffled his hair, completely oblivious to the anxiety that had settled on Savithri’s face. She looked at the balloon warily, narrowing her eyes as she saw a small metallic ring affixed to the balloon with a thread. A weird sense of chill settled over her heart.  5th October 2018: “Walk with me and do not go wandering anywhere.” Savithri held Raja’s hand in hers as they both walked around the market. Usually, buying vegetables for the week was a task that she enjoyed a lot. The comforting sounds of the vendors in the market, the aroma of bread being baked in the bakery at the end of the road and exchanging small talk with the vendors with whom she shared a good rapport, left her feeling refreshed and ready for the week ahead. But today, a heaviness settled in her heart. She found it difficult to relax.  The mysterious appearance of the chocolate and the balloon had left her feeling restless and worried. In whatever way she racked her brain, she simply could not find an explanation to the mystery. She had asked Arnav’s parents discreetly about the golden balloon. Both had brushed it off as something they might have missed. But they had blown air into the balloons themselves, as she had ascertained. How could they not remember the presence of the golden balloon in the packet? Lost in her thoughts, she at first did not register the pull in her dupatta. When Raja pulled it forcefully, she looked down at her son and did a double take. “This smells nice!” Raja said as he inhaled the red rose that he was holding in his hand. “From where did you get this?” Her voice quivered as she took in the rose.  Raja shrugged. “It just came into my hands.” Savithri looked around frantically. There was a flower vendor at the end of the lane but he seemed far off. Raja had been beside her all the time. There was no way he could have gone there and taken a rose. She gripped the child’s shoulders firmly and made him look up at her. “Raja, I want you to tell me the truth. How did you get this rose? Did someone give it to you?” “No. It just came.” Raja said innocently.  Tears of frustration stung his mother’s eyes. She hugged Raja tightly to herself, a primal fear wreaking havoc in her heart.  6th October 2018: “I am really scared, Ashish. Why are these things happening with Raja!?” Savithri said to her husband. It was late night and they both lay in their bed while Raja slept in the smaller bed adjoining to the bigger one.  “I don’t find anything to worry about. Could you give this a consideration that perhaps there wasn’t anything mysterious about everything you said? May be one of Raja’s friends must have dropped a chocolate in the home when they came here. Some kid must have brought the golden balloon to the party which Raja found. He could also have picked the rose from the street without your knowledge.” “But he keeps saying that these things just ‘came’ to him!” “He is just five. Kids of his age make up stories. Even you know that. Please do not get stressed about all these.” Savithri nodded thoughtfully. Perhaps she was indeed blowing things out of proportion. A huge weight lifted off her heart. She chuckled lightly. I must stop watching movies. My mind is bringing them to life! She pulled up her blanket and shifted to one side so that she could keep an eye on Raja. She looked at him and sat up with a gasp. Clutching her husband’s arm with one hand, she pointed towards Raja with a shaking finger. “What’s wrong?” Her husband asked worriedly. “That toy-plushie Raja is holding!” “What about that?” “We never bought any toy-plushie for Raja! Do you remember that article that said that stuffed toys are toxic for children? We decided to not to buy any, remember? Then where did this one come from?” “One of his friends must have given to him.” “But he was not having it with him when I put him to bed! How did he get it now??” “He must have kept it somewhere on his bed and must have reached out for it in his sleep. You are unnecessarily worrying. Come on, sleep now. We will talk about this with Raja in the morning.” Savithri got up resolutely from the bed and gently pried the plushie from Raja’s hand. She looked at it from all angles, trying to find something - what exactly, even she didn’t know. Finding nothing peculiar or alarming about the toy, she sighed and kept it on a stand beside the bigger bed.  She watched Raja for a long time before sleep finally decided to grace her. 7th October 2018: Savithri waited outside the play-school. Usually she exchanged small-talk with the other parents who came to pick up their kids after school-hours. Today her mind was not in the right state. She could not stop worrying about the mysterious appearances of the objects. Her maternal instinct told that there was nothing normal about this.  She saw a teacher holding Raja’s hand and bringing him towards the gate. The child smiled at his mother and she felt her throat catch. Could her heart bear any more love and fear for this precious child?! She felt tears sting her eyes. Taking deep breaths, she tried to compose herself and forced herself to smile. “Raja, how was your day?” She smiled as she took his bag from the teacher.  “Madam, we request you to not to send any toys with your child to the school.” The teacher said gently. Savithri frowned in confusion. “But we did not send any toy with him.” She turned towards Raja. “Did you carry any toy with you?” The child smiled and shook his head. “No, I did not carry any toy. But this ball...” he gestured to the ball that the teacher was holding in her hand, “it came to me.” The teacher shook her head in exasperation, oblivious to the fear that was reflected in the mother’s face. “Please do not send any toys with the child, I repeat.” She gave the ball to Raja and left, leaving Savithri speechless with fear and anxiety.  10 October 2018: “Everyone, please walk around the holy fire, the child first, then the mother, the father, the grandmother and finally the grandfather… fold your hands, offer your prayers and gratitude to the Divine and walk three times around the fire.” The Pandit said.  Savithri joined her palms together, her gaze intact on her child solemnly walking in front of her. Devi Ma, please protect my child from whatever or whoever has set their eyes on him. I do not know why he is coming across objects mysteriously. May be this is nothing to worry about, or may be something sinister is at work. But my mind is troubled. Just yesterday, while the family was having dinner, a bouquet had ended up in Raja’s tiny hands, right in front of everyone. While the family looked on wide-eyed, Raja had only burst out in unbridled laughter. The family had then decided to perform a havan in their home for the well-being of the child.  I know you will always protect my child, Ma. Savithri’s eyes filled up as she completed the third round around the holy fire. He is as much yours as he is mine. Please bring back peace and wellbeing into my family.  Sure enough, no more objects appeared mysteriously thereafter. The dark cloud of anxiety that had made a permanent home in Savithri’s heart lifted and passed away, and all was well in her little world again. -@@@@@- 10th October 2048: “Sir, where are you sneaking off too? Come and join us in our celebrations”  Veeraj smiled and shook his head at his colleague. “You guys enjoy. You have earned it. Order food and bill it on me. This is your day, guys. I cannot express in words…” his voice choked and he tried hard to swallow the lump in his throat. His colleagues, realizing that he was feeling emotional, clapped loudly amidst loud hoots and yelling. He waved them off with a watery smile and left for his cabin. This was a momentous day for him. And yet he was unable to celebrate. He still needed some concrete proof to deliver to the investors. The investors! Veeraj shook his head. He had an email to type. He absolutely hated writing long emails. And yet this particular instance required of him to prepare a long draft. Smiling at the noises erupting outside, he opened his email and started typing. Dear All, Thank you for placing your trust in our project. You all invested not only your money but your hopes and faith in us. I am extremely pleased to inform you all that my team has made a major breakthrough in the experiment. Over the period of ten days, we experimented on various objects. We started first with a chocolate, a Diary Milk chocolate, to be precise, as it is comparatively weightless. Next we tried on a balloon. You will not believe that this was the most difficult part of the experiment. One of the criteria required was that the object be as weightless as possible. What can be more weightless than a balloon, one might think. But the machine could not read the presence of the balloon due to its lack of weight. We had to tie a small metal ring to the attached string of the balloon for the machine to register its presence. Quite a harrowing task, I must confess. Then we tried it on a rose, a toy-plushie, a big ball that might be used in a game of football and lastly, on a bouquet of flowers. It gives me the same thrill that I felt while conducting the experiments to report to you that we could successfully teleport these objects. They disappeared right in front of us. Ladies and Gentlemen, while I do not hold a conclusive proof in my hand as of now, I would like to state boldly that my team has succeeded in its attempts to make objects travel through time. We have invented the ultimate time-travel machine that reads the frequencies of the objects, converts its rays into the same degree of the frequencies, and makes the objects travel through time.  He sat back on his chair, feeling the same goosebumps that he had felt the first time when the idea struck him.  It all began three years ago when the world was brimming with the discovery that every object in the universe had its own frequency. In fact, studies revealed that the entire universe was made up of frequency waves which were inter-connected with each other. When Veeraj heard about this, a brilliant idea had come up. What if he could engineer a machine that could read the frequency of any physical object and which could latch on to the same! If this happened, then the machine had to only connect the object’s frequency with the other waves prevailing in the subtle matter around everywhere. If the frequencies could be moved, the objects would also move with them.  Moving around the universe in the form of frequency –waves only meant one thing – that the object moved through space as well as time. What Veeraj had basically proposed was a set of experiments to conduct time-travel. Veeraj’s idea had invited large-scale cynicism and rebuke. And yet he had somehow convinced the company to find investors for his project. It had taken his team two whole years to manufacture and engineer the machine. Once it was done, his team had wasted no time in experimenting.  The first few experiments had failed. But Veeraj and his team were relentless in their pursuit and finally in the past few days, they had carried out a series of experiments, each one of them succeeding in teleporting the objects to which the machine had attached its rays. He rubbed his hands in excitement and resumed typing. Someday hopefully we will be able to present a solid proof of time-travel. For now, rejoice in the fact that your investments in our project, titled TIEL (TI from Time, EL from Travel) have paid off and we are on a trajectory towards making more outstanding breakthroughs in the field of time-travel.  I have attached some videos of our experiments from which you can verify the disappearance of the objects. I apologize – no, I take that back, I do not apologize for the awed reactions of my team. They have put in their best efforts day and night to achieve this and their jubilation is justified.  I will update you about further experiments in time. Thanking you, Veeraj Kulkarni.  He saved the email as a draft and leaned back on his chair, feeling the struggle of the past month catching up with him. He closed his eyes and tried to rejoice in the success of his endeavor. Only, he found that he couldn’t rejoice. He could still hear the taunts and rebuttal of the management when he presented to them, the blueprints of his project TIEL. That such a machine could be invented and it would make time travel very easy and accessible to many, was something that the management could not comprehend. The seniors had reprimanded him sharply, telling him to focus more on hard-hitting facts and to not to float in a dreamland of his own. He had held his own against the huge tide of cynicism. Look where it had landed him today! His team had made time-travel possible.  Now he only needed some concrete proof that the objects had travelled through time. But how could one prove that the object that had disappeared before your very eyes, had landed in some other place and another time? This was the most trying part of his experiment. He had to send the email to the investors who had signed NDAs regarding the project. They would be asking for conclusive evidence and proof. After all, they had invested heavily in the project. Veeraj sighed and got up from his chair. He stood in front of his book-shelf, searching for books on time-travel. He shuffled the books, perusing the copies lying in the back. His hand came across a hard cover. He took out the book. It was a diary. Feeling perplexed, he opened it.  A deep sense of nostalgia and loss came over him as he checked the name displayed in a beautiful calligraphy in Marathi.  His Aai, the one who had the most beautiful handwriting that he had ever come across, the one who had made him what he was today, and the one who had left him a year ago.  He sat on his chair, gazing at the diary in awe and wonder. Aai, life is tough, I am lonely, and you are not there beside me. I long for your warmth and comfort. He sniffled. Just the sight of his Aai’s handwriting had reduced him to tears.  He opened another page. It was about the day that he had been born. He smiled as he read the contents. Aai had written about the delivery after a month. She had described every little thing that he had done, or had not. Every word, every sentence contained a world of love.  Veeraj could not stop reading. He kept turning one page after another, his Aai’s love for him speaking out to him even from beyond.  He paused when he read the contents of one particular page. Something very peculiar happened in the past week. I was scared.  Veeraj checked the date of the entry. 13th October 2018 Raja was playing by himself in his room and I was talking over the phone. He came to me, showing a Diary Milk Chocolate. It was still unopened.  He smiled wistfully on seeing his nickname. It had been a long while since anyone had referred to him as Raja. Nobody at home had brought the chocolate. Raja being just 5, we had decided to not to introduce any junk food to him as long as it is possible for us. Nobody had given the chocolate to Raja. When I asked him, he said that the chocolate just appeared all by its own. There was no one in the house except for both of us. There was no chocolate in the box of toys beside which Raja was playing.  How did this happen? But that’s not all. In the past week, several times, this happened. I and Raja had attended the birthday party of Arnav, our neighbor and Raja’s best friend. While every child there played with red and white balloons, only Raja came across a golden coloured balloon, one which Arnav’s parents did not remember seeing in the pack. In the coming days, Raja mysteriously came across a rose, a toy-plushie and a ball as well. The most alarming one was the appearance of a bouquet in his hand. The whole family saw it just appear! I panicked and we conducted a Havan in our home to ward off any kind of negative energy that might have been in my home. It is only since the past two days that I have been able to relax as we did not see anything appear.  I feel much better after the Havan. I and hubby have decided to leave the incidents as something beyond our understanding. The entire family has mutually decided to never again mention these incidents. Raja is fine and my home is safe now; only this matters.  Veeraj’s hand shook as he placed the diary on his table and lowered his head. The objects that I teleported with my team – they reached me!  He shook his head, trying to come to terms with this fact. A huge wave of grief and remorse overwhelmed him as he thought about how scared his Aai must have been. I am sorry Aai! I am sorry that I brought such fear and anxiety for you. I hope you could leave this behind and could lead a happy life.  Veeraj presumed that his Aai must have left it behind, for she had never once mentioned about this to him. He reverentially ran his hand over the diary, smiling through his tears.  He realized gradually that he held the proof of time-travel in his hand. While some investors might still doubt him, he would find a way to persuade them. He eagerly sat in front of his laptop. There were some changes to be made to his email. Before he could start typing, a startling realization almost reduced him to tears again. His discovery meant that at another place and another time, his Aai was very much alive and still with him. Aai, even from the beyond, you are watching out for me! He bowed his head, feeling the loss of his mother even more now, and sat like that for a long time. Finally, he started typing with renewed determination. His project was a success and he held proof in his hand, all thanks to his Aai. Glossary:  Aai – mother, in Marathi language Havan – a special ritual of worshipping the divine, that is performed with food-offerings to fire. Pandit – Priest conducting holy ceremonies     Penmancy gets a small share of every purchase you make through these links, and every little helps us continue bringing you the reads you love!