Self-Slaughtering Microbes

Buzz….. buzzed the telepathic connection. 

“Good morning father,” said Dharti

SuryaDev replied in a booming voice, “GOOD MORNING daughter. How are you?”

“I am fine.”

“Hmm… I can see that you are going about your business of rotation and revolution, but you don’t look so good. Your ether is tarnished.  Are you not well?” 

“Yes father, I don’t feel so good,” replied Dharti.

“Well, is it your stomach again?”

“Yes. There is a fire raging in my stomach, it feels hot. I am so fed up. I do everything right and yet these microbes in my gut keep flaring up,” cried Dharti.

“Well, this time I will try to find a permanent solution,” reassured SuryaDev.

SuryaDev buzzed the Ashwini Kumaras for advice and admonition. 

“Lads, I am not happy with your performance. Your medicine didn’t work. My daughter still suffers!” thundered an angry SuryaDev.

Quivering, for neither wanted to incur the wrath of their father, the Ashwini Kumaras, Nasatya and Dasra, bowed deeply to SuryaDev and said, “We apologize esteemed father.”

Nasatya asked, “What seems to be the,” Dasra continued, “problem?”

“The problem is exactly what it was earlier,” asserted the Lord.

Surprised Nasatya asked, “You mean to say it’s still her,” Dasra piped in again, “stomach?”

“Yes, she is still feeling sluggish, her pallor is swallow. Even her luminous ether is tinged with grey,” said a concerned SuryaDev.

“I can’t believe it,” said the twins in unison. They looked at each other. Now they were worried. 

“What! What is it?” barked SuryaDev with growing trepidation.

“The last time we gave her one of the strongest antibiotics known to,” explained Nasatya, “Us,” finished Dasra.   

SuryaDev said in a low menacing voice, “Stop completing each other’s sentences. It’s very irritating. Nasatya you speak.”

Nastya gulped and continued, “The last time we gave her an antibiotic called ‘Thanos’. It’s the most powerful antibiotic in our arsenal. We mined it and distilled the active ingredient from the rare elements found on Shani, that is Saturn.”

“I know,” said SuryaDev pursing his lips.  

Nasatya continued hurriedly, “It kills all the harmful microbes leaving only fifty percent of good ones.”

Trying to control his temper and anxiety SuryaDev said, “Apparently… your… most… powerful… antibiotic…… did not… work.”

Dasra opened his mouth to speak, SuryaDev scowled at him. He closed his mouth. 

Nasatya realized they better wrap up the conversation fast and get out. They didn’t want SuryaDev exploding at them. He released most noxious solar flares when he got furious. The effect of the flares was truly unpleasant and took a long time to be treated. Plus, it affected everyone around him, thus adding to their patient count.

“We shall immediately go and examine Dharti. Then we will prepare a comprehensive report and work out a new treatment plan,” stated Nasatya earnestly. Dasra nodded emphatically.  

A little appeased at the urgency he saw in their manner SuryaDev nodded his head. Just as they were about to make good their escape he threatened, “This time the plan BETTER work.”

Both nodded and hurriedly teleported out of his presence. 

Hovering near Dharti, they took deep breathes to regain their composure. 

“What are we going to do?” lamented Dasra.

“I seriously don’t know. I thought Thanos will take care of everything. Once the microbes were reduced, the pressure they exerted on her to sustain themselves would go down, bringing her comfort,” said Nasatya, “Then it would have been a matter of time to recuperate from all the damage they caused.”

“How in the hell did Thanos not work?” said Dasra hovering in a zigzag pattern. 

“I guess we will find out when we talk to Dharti.”

‘I say, not for her sake but for our sake too, she better get well soon. Otherwise father will happily roast us,” grumbled Dasra.

“Yes, his blue-veined precious daughter,” said Nasatya, his voice tinged with just a wee-bit of jealousy. Though in all fairness they were good brothers and loved Dharti. 

Sighing both approached her.

“Good morning Dharti!” they said with forced cheerfulness.  

“Hmmm….,” murmured Dharti, roused from her catnap. “Oh! Ashwini Kumaras. Greetings!” she said with a smile, “Come to checkup on your patient.”

“Sorry, that we didn’t come earlier. We were so sure of our medicine, never even imagined it will not work. Everyone else has always responded beautifully to it,” said Nasatya.

“Otherwise we would have come and checked up on you. But you too didn’t inform us that the medicine is not working,” added Dasra a little miffed.

“I know. I am sorry. I should have contacted you when the antibiotic didn’t work. But to be honest I was completely exhausted after that course of treatment and between rotation and revolution had no energy left to do anything else,” said Dharti regretfully. 

“Well no issues. We are here now,” said Dasra as he got busy opening his notepad.

“Ok, let’s see,” said Nasatya as he peered closely at Dharti, “Yes, her ether is definitely tarnished.” He took out an eye loupe to get a better look. “It seems to be laden with fine microscopic particles. All is not well in her gut,” he spoke to Dasra. Then turning to Dharti he said, “When all in not well in the stomach, it reflects in our entire body.” Dharti nodded. 

He then turned to look at her surface and pocketed the eye loupe. Dasra scribbled the observation in the notepad. 

“Tell me what happened when you took Thanos?” asked Nasatya.

“Oh! There was a lot of chaos,” said Dharti her face contorting with remembered pain, “It felt as if my stomach was on fire and that a war was being raged. There were great rumbles and a lot of….,” she trailed off. 

“A lot of what?” asked Dasra looking up from his notepad.

Looking a bit uncomfortable Dharti said, “You know, flatulence,” she whispered. 

“What?” asked Dasra, looking up from his notepad, when he was unable to hear what Dharti said.

“Gas and fart,” stated a chagrined Dharti.

“Oh, not to worry, that is quite natural,” said Dasra as he wrote, missing the embarrassed look on her face for discussing something like this with her brothers. 

Dharti continued, “Then it got worse, if that was even possible. Terrible pain, cramps, acidity, toxic flatulence. It felt as if something inside my gut was doing everything in its power to defeat Thanos. I just wanted to drink glass after glass of cold water. I thought I will die. But once the course was finished it seemed that things had settled down. But in a few months, it was back to square one.”  

The twins felt bad for all the pain that Dharti had endured. They felt even worse for not checking up on her. Both realized that the microbes in her stomach were unlike they had seen anywhere before. 

Continuing with the examination Nasatya said, “Her organic blouse has small and big tears, in some places it is turning brown and mayhap die in a few years. There are only a few places where it is healthy and lush green.”

Both brothers exchanged anxious looks. 

Nasatya continued, “Even her shimmery skirt is dirty. The aquamarine is changing to dirty brown. There are huge spots and fungus growing everywhere.” He flew around her and concluded by saying, “Again, only in certain places is it a brilliant azure blue, the way it is supposed to be.”

Both had a very good idea of what was happening. The only thing they dreaded was how bad it was. They were plagued with a horrible certainty that something drastic needed to be done. Both hoped that the treatment itself would not mean the end for Dharti. 

Nasatya peered closely and said, “I can see her veins are clogged. Oh God! It is worse than before. There are particulates floating in them, making the free flow impossible. No wonder here blood pressure is up.” He told Dasra to collect a sample.  

Nasatya took out the eye loupe again. He bent to get a better look at her surface. What he saw made him jerk back in disgust. He tried vainly to hide his reaction but Dharti and Dasra saw it. 

“Is it that bad?” asked Dharti in a dejected voice.

“Hmmm..mmm…. No, it’s not that bad,” mumbled Nasatya.

“Don’t lie to me brother. Am I going to die?” tears rolled down Dharti’s eyes as she said it.

“Not if we can help it, sister,” said a very resolute Nasatya. He straightened and with a determined gleam looked Dharti in the eye and promised that they would be back soon with a plan.   

Once they were out of earshot, Dasra couldn’t keep quiet anymore, “What did you see?” he demanded.

“Oh, it was horrible. There are tons and tons of them. Like maggots! Crawling, wriggling over each other. They have created tall mounds to stay in. They are eating any and every resource they can get their hands on. Poor Dharti must be in so much pain.  They are literally ravaging her to death. On top of that they are releasing tons of toxic waste. It is piling up and clinging to her gut, spilling over and into her veins and dulling her ether. It’s terrible.” 

The brothers found a quiet spot on chandrama and sat down to device their plan. Few sleepless nights later they were ready with what they thought was the best plan they could come up with. They ardently hoped the plan would work for Dharti and for them.  

So, on a crisp new morning, when SuryaDev’s gentle rays were emanating and spreading cheer across the saurmandal, the twins approached him. 

Like any parent SuryaDev was anxious to hear the report and the plan of action. 

Nasatya and Dasra bowed deeply.  

“So, do you know what is wrong with Dharti and how you can make her better?” he demanded. 

This time they did not repeat the mistake of Dasra finishing Nasatya’s sentences. 

Nasatya said, “Yes father, we gave her a thorough examination. The problem is that she has too many harmful microbes. They are in billions and multiplying at an alarming rate. In order to sustain themselves they are devouring everything. So, resources are fast depleting and their toxins fast augmenting. Her elements are out of sync.”

“Oh no! So, what’s the treatment?” asked SuryaDev concerned. 

“We have three options. One is to let things be the way they are. It is inevitable, the microbes will reach the thresh-hold limit and will not be able to sustain themselves and die. But before that, the huge amounts of toxins they release, some of which has already found its way into her riverly-veins, will be even worse. There is a serious risk of septicemia. But this very septicemia will prove devastating for the microbes too. It will damage Dharti’s innards. The disease will definitely ravage her but she will make full recovery in time. The best thing….,”  

“This is not an option. We can’t just do nothing!” interrupted SuryaDev impatiently. 

“…..is that we will not be adding to her wretchedness by giving her more medicines,” finished Nasatya

But the thought of his daughter suffering was too much. “No, I don’t like this option. What’s the second option?”

“That we use laser beams and create certain controlled adverse natural circumstances which help in eradicating a large number of microbes and act as a stimulus for the good microbes to propagate a harmonious and more symbiont lifestyle. The resulting upheaval will have minimal effect on Dharti. But eventually she will adjust.” 

“Well, this sounds better,” he said. “But the microbes will still continue to exist. Is that wise?” he mumbled. Sighing he asked, “And the third option?”

Nasatya cleared his throat, “This is the last and final option. We use the nuclear medicine named Pralaya,” he said and waited with bated breath for SuryaDev’s reaction. 

Pralaya,” whispered SuryaDev. It brought back unpleasant memories of another time. “The last time we used it, everything was wiped out,” he said, “Well almost everything.”

“I know. This will cause her pain but it will be momentary. Then she will be alright. Just like last time, where she thrived after that. But all the microbes, good and bad will be finished along with other organisms.” 

“I need to think about this. Of course, the final decision will be made by Dharti. But she needs to understand the pros and cons of all the three options,” said SuryaDev. He was lost in thought, so the twins bowed and left. 

The news soon spread across brahmaand. Gods, Demi-Gods, lesser than demi-gods, all and everybody who could dare stand in front of SuryaDev and offer an opinion came and did just that.  There were heated arguments. The first option was summarily rejected. The crowd was almost equally divided between the second and the third option. Both the groups presented valid points in favor of their choice. 

Finally, SuryaDev had had enough of it and shooed everyone away. 

Buzz………buzzed the telepathic connection. 

“Good evening father,” said Dharti

“Good evening daughter,” he tried to sound jolly. “I am sure you are being equally nagged by these well-intentioned celestial beings as to what you should do.” 

“Yes father,” she said. He heard her smile. 

‘Atleast her spirits are up,’ he thought.

“Have you given any thought to the option you want to choose?”

“I have. Though I haven’t reached a decision yet. Pralaya is easier for me but I really don’t want all the microbes and other organisms to die. There are good microbes in there, I know it in my gut,” saying so she laughed at her own joke. Her father joined in. “I can feel them trying. More and more are coming forward to do better yet ironically more and more and faster and faster things are getting out of hand,” so saying she heaved a sigh. “I know it is irritating that I am not able to make up my mind.”

“No, not at all!” said SuryaDev emphatically. “You love these microbes. For some reason they bring you joy. That you are attached to them and rejoice in their happiness is nothing to be ashamed of. Not many can do what you have done.”

“Thank you, father.”

Unbeknownst of the ensuing divine argument about their very future the billion greedy microbes went about their destructive ways. There were a few microbes who were fighting their best for a change, but change is not easy and it demands sacrifice. 

“I want your happiness daughter. But just remember some causes are beyond redemption. And saving them harms us more than them.”

“I understand what you are saying father. I will have an answer for you in a few days.”

True to her word Dharti had an answer for her father in a few days. The ball was set rolling. The microbes continued their merry way. Celestial beings from around brahmaand gathered and took up looking posts around the saurmandal. The microbes continued spewing toxins. An anxious SuryaDev arrived where the Ashwini Kumaras were making the final preparations. The microbes wriggled around completely oblivious to the fact that their lives were in imminent danger. Dharti moaned in pain and settled in for what was to come. The microbes continued to think that they were the makers of their fate. There were whispers amongst celestial beings about the option chosen. None of them knew, least of all the self-destructive microbes. Bets were placed as to which button would be pressed. Would it be a laser beam causing a natural disaster and wiping out half of the microbial population or would it be total annihilation. The bungling microbes continued their bungling. 

Nasatya was finally ready. He looked at his father who nodded his approval. Nasatya lifted his hand to press the button. Both the buttons – red and black – were next to each other on a panel. Everyone held their breath. His hand moved closer to the button. There was vacuum-y silence. Nasatya’s hand was just four inches away from the panel when a voice boomed. 

Startled everyone looked up. Nasatya’s hand stopped just short of the panel. It was Narad. He stood clutching his midriff and panting.  

“My lo….rds, and ladi….es,” he said breathlessly. “I have news. Pl…ase listen to me first.”

Dharti perked up at his sight. “I had given up all hope Naradji. I thought you weren’t coming,” she said.  

“My Lady, I apologize for the delay. It took a little longer than I thought, to gather the evidence.” Narad then turned to the esteemed gathering and said, “They are making efforts.”

“Who and what effort?” asked SuryaDev

“The microbes my Lord. They are making real and true efforts to change. I have spent some time amongst them on Lady Dharti’s request.”

“How do you know they are making changes?” asked Nasatya.

“Because now the common microbes are getting involved,” he said looking at Nasatya. He then turned towards SuryaDev and said, “Because now the baby microbes are getting involved. Yes, the condition is not good. But there is hope, true hope. They understand Lady Dharti’s importance and want to protect her. They realize there is none like her. I think, my Lord we should give them a chance.”

A debate ensued.

Now if only someone could tell the arrogant self-slaughtering microbes that the clock is ticking. They only have time till the debate lasts. Otherwise it’s either red or black……….
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Glossary
Dharti – Earth
SuyraDev – Sun
Ashwini Kumaras – Nasatya and Dasra  – The names of the elder and the younger Ashwini Kumar twins. They are the Celestial doctors. SuryaDev is their father. 
Thanos – The legendary villain of the Avenger series. 
Chandrama – Moon
Saurmandal – Solar system
Brahmaand – Universe
Pralay – Great Dissolution. 
Narad – A vedic sage
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Shweta Singh

Shweta Singh is a home maker and mother of on-the-verge-of-being-teenager twins. She is passionate about books and food – both interests inherited from her father – and loves to write and travel at every opportunity. A closet writer, who after encouragement from friends and family has embarked on the journey of self-discovery.
Shweta Singh

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