”At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, I will awake to an encounter with people from the other world. This will be my tryst with Aliens.”
As the clock on the steeple of the far-away church in Matheran struck 12 and the church bells gonged I opened my eyes and started my journey along with my three friends.
I had decided I would find the wormhole and encounter these aliens by hook or by crook.
Tagging my three best pals the journey had started.
We were young and full of zeal. It would be Mission Accomplished.
Living in deep forestation somewhere near Matheran hill station we were always discouraged to travel far from our habitat. There was a wormhole in the border of these forests and legend had it that if you found and navigated through this wormhole you would land up in the land of the Aliens.
It was a terrifying prospect for us due to the fear psychosis created around the aliens and the location of the holes.
My uncle who was a master storyteller always gathered us kids and used to entertain us with stories and folklore. This was our major time pass.
Always restless and frolicking around and keeping us tied down to one place would normally be a difficult chore but as his stories were engrossing we managed to stay captivated in our places. As we waited for his grand entry, we would be picking each other’s brains or ticks ( from each other’s bodies).
He would shuffle into our midst and when we all cried out in unison, “Uncle Story! Uncle Story! Please!”, parking himself under the Banyan tree he would pacify us and settle his back against the uneven bark of the tree to start his narration.
He was Mr Know It All and was one hell of a ’Monk’ipedia.
He specialised in stories of Aliens and how they interacted with members of our species.
He would go back to our forefathers especially the one called Han.
He would beautifully narrate how Han encountered and befriended the two alien brothers Ra and La.
This tale took Han across miles and miles of the hinterland to assist Ra and La in-building bridges and participate in a daring flaming recce. The final invasion of the ’Land of Gold’ culminating in a bloody battle and blood bath was a ‘distressed damsel rescue’ mission weighed with the battle between good and evil.
There was another tale of interest, the grand Uncle narrated brilliantly.
It was one of our forefathers, King Lou, with the drama of an alien called Mowg.
Our forefather had seen this small lost alien roaming in the woods and tried to befriend him.
King Lou knew the alien had access to privy info on how to create magic by striking two stones.
King Lou desperately needed this information to strengthen his supremacy. Mowg being a small alien, King Lou tried his best in trying to trick him, pacify him and wiggle out the secret.
But it was futile. This alien did not know about the art of fire-making.
A gem of an alien story which Uncle always pestered to narrate was the one where one of our brethren Abu, encountered this alien called Al. This alien Al possessed a flying contraption which was a textile knitted vehicle. Never seen by any of our forefathers this story took Abu along with alien Al and his alien lady love Jas over hills and mountains on a magical flight through the sky.
The story and climax were interesting as they involved a lamp, a genie, and another alien villain Jab.
The most frightening and spine-chilling narration was the story where a whole Alien Planet and its inhabitants were taken captive by our forefathers.
The aliens fought us sequel after sequel in bloody battles and sequels continue in today’s day and age.
Managing to trick out the location coordinates for the wormhole from uncle, along with my three other young friends, we started the treacherous journey travelling in leaps and bounds. Travelling at night was a long dark journey and it was tiring.
But we had our daily quota of nutritive nuts and fruit – banana to sustain us.
Keeping under cover of darkness we targeted, we should reach the location at the break of dawn.
As the sun slowly crept up, shooting the first rays of its brilliance over our side of mother Earth we reached ‘the spot’.
This was the first time in our lives that we had travelled so far away from our homes and our comfort zone. Reaching the location, we came across the dense patch of foliage, that was the entry to the black hole. As per the information we had, we did not need any special vehicle to transport us to the other side. We needed to carefully crawl on all fours.
Rummaging through the foliage we cleared a path and pushing our way through we went into a free fall.
Tumbling over one another, we landed with a thud on the other side as we fell on the hard ground.
We had hit ’Ground Zero’.
Closed eyes covered in black and brown dirt, we straightened up and started dusting ourselves.
Opening our eyes, we saw a sight of marvel.
We could see a line of the UFO whizzing past black tar strips.
There were two solid beams of light shooting from the front of these contraptions of solid metal.
Some of them had been adorned with different coloured lights and once in a while a shrieking cacophony of a warning sound emanating from them made us look up in awe.
Pleased that we were all in one piece, we climbed atop a tree, gathering in the sights and digesting the information from the surrounds we saw.
We could not sight any alien. Probably they were all in the ever-fast-moving UFOs
Wondering what our next POA should be, we were astounded by the sound of a screech as one UFO came to a grinding halt right below the tree that we were sitting on.
It was a bright red coloured contraption and it’s lights were on full beam.
It an instant the whirring sound stopped as all our eyes were glued to this marvel so near to us.
Visual observation enlightened us to the fact that there were four black round masses on which the red metal contraption sat. There were areas you could look through into the UFO as they had some transparent material patched on the front, along its sides and it’s back.
Suddenly on a side closer to the front beam, a sheet of the red material yawned open, and we saw with mouth agape, the outline of an alien, getting off the UFO.
What a sight!!
It looked like the alien was structured like us with four limbs attached to a torso.
Compared to us it however was more erect in its stature.
The difference was the amount of body hair it had, in comparison.
The other difference was it was covered in some odd material in some parts of its torso.
If you imagined us evolving in thousands of years — it represented a ‘Future Us’.
It was unaware of our presence as we watched its every moment.
It was holding a pack of some items in one of its limbs as it approached the base of the tree we were on and sat down tired.
Opening the pack, it took out a small piece of material and put it on its head.
Resting against the bark of the tree it closed its eyes with the new piece of material lying neatly on its head.
Sitting atop the tree, closely watching as the whizz of other UFOs continued we realised that the alien in our vicinity must have dozed off as there was no activity.
Taking courage, we slowly approached the sleeping alien.
It was a close-up sight to behold. It lay still, apart from a roaring sound coming infrequently from its nostril accompanied by the heaving of its chest. We noticed the open pack that was lying on its side and in a jiffy, gathering courage, I snatched it and climbed back up the tree.
It had similar material pieces which the alien had adorned his head with.
Copying what the alien had done, we did the same and used all of them to put on our heads.
We must have been a sight with so much material, in so many colours on our heads. The excitement and chatter must have aroused the alien from his slumber. All our were eyes on it, we noticed it gave a big yawn, a big stretch of its upper limbs, and reached out one limb to where it had placed the packet.
Surprised that it was missing, the alien looked around and could not find it.
Suddenly it looked up and saw us. Our eyes met for the first time. It curled one end of its limb and gestured snarling at us. We did the same. It started hurtling abuses in its language. We replied with equal furore in ours.
All four of us realised the war had begun as looking at us it picked up a stone and threw it at us.
We had to retaliate. We plucked some fruit from the tree and threw it back.
It realised that we were mirroring whatever it was doing and there was no chance it would win.
Exasperated it took out the head material and threw it to the ground.
Aping it all of us foolishly did the same.
Expressing happiness that it had got its lost possessions it collected all the material from the ground and advancing towards it’s UFO zoomed away.
As it was leaving, we heard these words
WHAT A MONKEY YOU ARE!!
Though we did not manage to negotiate a pact of peace and non-invasion with the Aliens, and we did not make history we will go down in the storybooks of humans as the monkey characters in the story —
’The Cap -seller and The Monkeys’
I had to reach on time.
There was a deadline.
I had a stall in the annual week-long fair in Bandra a suburb of Mumbai.
I had to reach Bandra by 7 am.
The annual revellers in tens of thousands would be there at the crack of dawn. They would have been waiting in the queue for the trek up the hill, to visit the shrine of Our Lady of Mount. These steps are lined with stalls selling fun ware and food items. My stall was on these steps.
I live in a small village somewhere between Karjat and Matheran.
Born a single kid into a poor family, my mum and dad scraped through by doing odd jobs here and there. I was taught many a trade from a very young age. Now in my mid-twenties, life was a bit comfortable. Learning about the art of stitching cloth caps, (we started specialising in this) brought us much needed relief. The process involved cutting bright coloured cloth into shapes and then stitching them together to make vibrant caps. All three of us worked very hard in our hut with the cutting and stitching. I also doubled up as the salesman, travelling wherever an opportunity came to sell these caps. I learnt to drive my friend’s car — an old red Maruti. It was a banger. Whenever I needed it to drive out of our village, he would gracefully lend it to me. A couple of years back we were told about the Bandra Fair and had managed to set up stalls there. It was a roaring success.
This year was extra hectic. Last two days I had gone to Karjat for the special music festival and set shop there. I had record sales. I had to be in Bandra, the next day. So, I had to drive back from Karjat, pick up the goods and drive overnight to set up my stall at the fair.
Driving for a few hours relentlessly, I needed to take a short break.
Close to Matheran, yawning at the wheels, just at the break of dawn, I got off the main road and veered on to the muddy, uneven road to stop for a break. I saw an odd, yellow STD phone booth like, enclosed structure and wondered what it was doing there, amid the forestation. More concerned about my wellbeing, putting it out of my mind I whizzed past it towards a huge tree a few yards away. I braked, parking the red Maruti car under its shade. Holding a knapsack that contained some caps I took it with me to be used as a pillow and approached the tree.
Very tired I sat down and pulled out a cap from the pack which was on my side. Putting on the cap I rested my head against the trunk and before I could even use the pack as my pillow I dozed off.
The open knapsack, full of caps, lay agape beside a snoring me.
Not sure if I had dozed off for a few minutes or a few hours, I woke up to the sounds of loud chattering.
Not understanding where this was coming from, I stretched lazily and reached for the knapsack. It was not there. Surprised, I look around. It had disappeared! Looking up I suddenly saw the source of the chattering. There were four monkeys, and they were staring back at me. What astounded me was that they had adorned their heads with loads of caps from my knapsack which now empty was on one of the branches.
Our eyes met. I gesticulated snarling at them. Surprisingly, they responded by copying my gestures and snarled back.
Frustrated that they had my goods, I started hurling verbal abuses at them.
They responded with loud chattering.
Looking at them I now bent to the ground and picking up a small stone hurled it towards them. They retaliated by creating a furore. Picking up fruits from the branches all four of the monkeys started hurling them back at me. The knapsack had also fallen onto the ground.
I realised there was no winning as they were just replicating whatever I was doing.
There was no way I would get my goods back.
Exasperated I decided to go back without the caps. In frustration, I threw the cap from my head onto the ground. Lo and behold! In a jiffy all my caps were thrown onto the ground. The aping monkeys just went on aping me. They threw the caps from their heads onto the ground.
Quickly gathering them I put the caps into the knapsack and walked towards my red car.
As I zoomed off, I could not help exclaiming –WHAT A MONKEY YOU ARE!!!
The red car zoomed past me as I heard the lonely inhabitant shout out — WHAT A MONKEY YOU ARE!!
The whole drama was enacted before me. Unseen by all the five actors I watched them hidden in my spacecraft.
Travelling from far lands I had landed on this planet in search of intelligent life.
My studies in my homeland as an astronaut had covered this odd planet called Earth. I had studied that they had a very low form of life. These Earthlings had intelligence levels way below ours. My special assignment was to find out and assess intelligence levels here. I picked a destination named Mumbai. Venturing out in my spacecraft, as it approached Earth’s space, I had to camouflage it. I converted the outer form to resemble an enclosed public STD phone booth in Mumbai. The yellow colour and outer signage STD, ISD, PCO was similar to the ones operated in and around the city. Unfortunately, due to an error and a technical snag the ship instead of landing in Colaba, Mumbai landed quite a few Earth miles away. My bearings indicated that there was forestation close by.
Stationary now, as I was trying to work out a way to steer myself towards my original destination, I heard thuds as four Earthlings dropped from the branches above and fell one over the other in the open space near me. All four were bent backed and tailed and in a jiffy, jumped back into the tree they fell from. They had not seen me.
After some time, I heard “Vroom! Vroom!” as a primitive, surface terrain, automobile, red in colour, drove past me and braked to a halt.
Another Earthling emerged from this red contraption and walked towards the tree. This more evolved Earthling was of slightly higher intelligence, than the previous four. It walked upright and had some odd material on some parts of its body. It had lost its tail.
It went towards the tree and sat down. It now put some material on its top and shut its eye.
After some time, the earlier four earthlings came back towards the lone earthling. Playing with some material lying nearby they adorned their top ends with it and jumped up to the trees. The lonely Earthling opened its eyes and then all five of them participated in a chattering, gnarling, gesticulating lowly ritual. As a climax, the lone earthling followed by the other four threw the materials from their top ends to the ground. Seemed like an invitation to a duel! The lone earthling picked up all this material and walked towards his red-coloured contraption.
As the contraption zoomed past me the sound waves formed a message — WHAT A MONKEY YOU ARE!!
Looking at this scenario I had made up my analysis.
This Earthling’s intelligence was way, way, below that of the lowest creatures of our planet.
Nothing to learn here.
No point in wasting my time further.
The single extension on my torso moved towards the lit panel of my cockpit.
I looked at the area which said DESTINATION
I touched — HOME.
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