“Are you sure you want to do this? It isn’t mandatory or obligatory. Your anatomy is not a playground for experiments. This being the fourth attempt could lead to unnecessary complications,” quipped Captain Joyce.
“Mom, I understand your concern. But, this would be my last chance as per protocol. I am optimistic that I will not succumb to complications this time around. Anyway, you will be there by my side. I will inform you at the slightest sign of discomfort, and we can halt the whole process,” Alice asserted. She scratched the surface of the contract one last time and signed it. Alice sighed contemplating the tedious routine that was about to commence.
Alice lived with her mother Captain Joyce in Astralaya. Astralaya which means ‘home of the weapons’, is an island continent/country in the Prasanta Sagara (earlier known as the Pacific ocean). The country is not only the leading manufacturer of defense material but also soaring high in scientific innovations. The military, foreign exchange, human resources, scientific development, and health care departments are all interconnected with no potential loopholes. All this is attributed to the disciplined and ethical forerunners of their bureaucracy.
Captain Joyce works with their Genetic Progeny Inception department. She is a principled person who lives by the rule books and would never compromise. Her country is her first and last love, everything else is secondary or insignificant, including her own daughter.
All of thirty-five, Alice is a free-spirited soul. She finds meaning and value in the day to day drills of life. Alice is not ambitious, nor lethargic. She isn’t a laid back sloth, nor a buttoned-up cheetah. She is content living a mediocre, unadventurous life. Joyce expected her daughter to join the wagon, and work for the government. Though her expertise in computers and graphics could have helped, her love for art and the abstract cajoled her to pursue a career in the same. Alice’s decision disappointed her, however, since each citizen had the freedom to choose their profession as per the constitution, Captain Joyce was helpless.
The ‘D’ day arrived. The doctor injected Alice. She was provided the necessary drugs and she had to stay at the facility for at least a month, till the process proved successful. Alice spent the rest of the days at the facility reading the do’s and don’ts manual, eating balanced and healthy food, chatting with the fellow inmates. Captain Joyce visited her once in a while, but her pessimistic behavior miffed Alice.
After all the primary check-ups, Alice was taken to the final procedure. Here, they conduct scans and double-check the genetic structure. This enables them to avoid any afore-seen genetic disorders or/and future ailments. From a day before confirmation, butterflies fluttered in her heart. She wanted it to work this time. For Alice, her mother was not a mother but ‘Captain’. So she needed someone who would fill her heart with selfless compassion and integrity in life. She was anxious to know the results.
While Alice heard a slight heartbeat, someone knocked at the door. Soon a commotion engulfed outside the scan room. Few higher officials from the department and her mother were in deep discussion with the doctor. ‘Is there something wrong again? Is mom trying to dissuade them from continuing the process? Why would she do this to me?’ Alice fumed.
In no time a whole flock of nerdy experts entered the room. Captain Joyce broke Alice’s reverie, “We have some bad news for you.”
Alice sprang up from her bed, “I knew it. You never agreed to my desires. You despise and loathe on my decisions,” turning towards the nerds, “What is wrong? What’s the poison this time?”
Joyce continued, “Let me explain.”
Alice rolled her eyes, “You are just impossible. This is my last chance and you have already ruined it.”
“Don’t be a fool. There has been a mistake. The chromosomal built-up itself is disastrous.” Joyce explained.
“What?” Alice was clueless.
“Your progeny has the wrong chromosome.” Joyce sighed.
“How did this happen? Is this a result of a genetic mutation. Does this mean my progeny has acquired a genetic defect or syndrome? Mom, please be specific with your explanations,” Alice glared at Joyce.
“No Alice, none of these. You will have to terminate this pregnancy.” Joyce sighed.
“Terminate? You haven’t provided me with a staunch reason too, “ Alice paved through the bunch of people, murmuring to herself, “Bloody sadist.”
“Stop it, Alice. I am not your enemy. But we need to abide by the laws of the country as well as the human race. If you continue with the pregnancy, you will bear a male child.”
“What?” Alice looked puzzled.
“There is nothing for you to understand or fathom. Just take the pills, that the doctors give you. Let this be quick and smooth. I don’t want any drama.”
“This is my child; my future. How dare you think of destroying it? First, tell me, what is a male?”
Captain Joyce was getting impatient. She knew that Alice would not agree immediately, however, her reputation at the department was also at stake. “Look, Alice. Whatever it is, it will have disastrous implications on the human race. Dinosaur eggs are preserved in the museum, we never dare to incubate them into offsprings. Some things are better untouched. Also, as per the pact signed by all the nations, fetuses with genetic mutations or any radical changes have to be terminated.
I understand your displeasure. However, our hands are tied. Take a month to accept your fate. Enjoy your pregnancy days till then.” Captain Joyce ordered the security to keep an eye on her daughter and left.
Alice was shattered. Her final attempt at pregnancy also flopped. Her heart mourned but her brain hankered for an antiphon. She yearned to know more about ‘male.’ And she was sure her mother would never help her in the quest. Alice foraged the whole internet with as many keywords as possible, male, extinct human species, but in vain. The internet overflowed with information on extinct animals and plants only. She ransacked scientific documents relating to genetic coding. However, none of them had information about it. After hours of brain-racking, she concluded that there was only one way to find out – the restricted area of the state library.
Only higher authorities are allowed entry to this part of the library. She had to somehow get access to enter it. The only option was to ask her mother. Hence Alice formulated a plan. She behaved normally with everyone without any sign of depression or rebellion. She explored articles and studies relating to pottery, paintings, sculpting, and carving. In the next meeting with her mother, she tried to make peace with her.
“I plan to apply for a doctorate in the ancient arts. Just trying to focus my energy on what I am good at.”
“That is a good decision. Do let me know if you need any help.”
“Yes, I would need permission to the restricted area in the state library.” Alice requested.
“What for? Try gathering as much information from other materials in the library and the internet.” Joyce hushed her.
“Mom, My thesis will be based on ancient work. The library does not provide much detail about it. Also, you are completely aware of my understanding of anything above my IQ level. My heart is already wailing with disappointment over the pregnancy. Try to act as my mother for once and help me,” Alice commanded.
Though Captain Joyce was not completely convinced, still she did not want a melodramatic discussion, “ Okay, let me see what I can do about it.”
The very next day, Alice was given an entry pass to the state library. The task was not only to find about ‘male’ but also to find ways to protect her fetus. Once at the restricted library area, she quickly started scanning through books that were written in the earlier centuries. A whole day’s searching didn’t yield her anything. Out of frustration, she banged the library shelf with her fist and an antique book fell on her head. ‘Ahh! How bad could the day get?’ She picked the book from the floor and was about to keep it back when she noticed the name of the book, ‘ The untold truth’ by Revathi Aravind. The title sounded mysterious enough to invoke a sense of excitement to read it. It dated back to 2050, approximately three centuries ago. She skimmed the book but was disappointed. It had been written in puzzling codes. Cryptography was not her cup of tea. She was back to ground zero; completely clueless again. Probably checking the glossary would be helpful, and finally, there were words familiar to her. The last line of the book read, ‘Details of the fellow species is preserved with the people of the eucalyptus mountains. The Tamil piece of the blackberry peninsula.’
‘Oh, God! What is the author implying? Is she really talking about ‘male’ species?’ Alice stood baffled. If only she could crack this sentence, it would be a breakthrough.
For the next couple of days, she scavenged the internet and cudgeled her brain to find answers to the clue. Finally, she had an idea. The author was not straightforward with the whole book, why not search one word or clue at a time. One by one, the clouds cleared.
‘Blackberry peninsula – Jambhudweep (earlier known as India),The Tamil piece of land – Dravida Nadu (earlier known as Tamil Nadu) and finally, The eucalyptus mountains – The Nilgiri mountain ranges in Dravida Nadu.’
‘Wow! I should probably visit this place before I am forced to terminate.’ Alice murmured to herself.
She gathered a lot of courage because this would be one more lie to her mother. It would be difficult to convince her investigative mother. However, she played the pregnancy trump card. Alice promised Joyce, that she had to travel to Jambhudweep solely for her thesis. Captain Joyce under-estimated Alice’s intentions and gave way to her request, “But you need to be back here in a maximum of a month. Otherwise, you will have to undergo surgery.’
Alice agreed to all the terms and left for Jambhudweep seeking answers to the mysteries.
Soon Alice landed on Jambhudweep and headed towards the Nilgiri mountains in Dravida Nadu. It wasn’t a difficult journey, owing to the technical brilliance in the era. This place had brilliant green landscapes with valleys filled with the fragrance of eucalyptus. Alice felt a zephyr of freshness and tranquil. However, she had no idea where she had to go or whom she had to contact. She went to the local library and enquired about the book. The librarian had never heard about it. She said that books of ancient lineage and importance would be available only in the central library. The central library was in Jambhudweep’s capital city of Indraprastha (known as Delhi from time immemorial)
But the librarian had one more suggestion. She spoke of a sect of women who lived in the mountain of the Doddabetta peak. They were a very conservative and secluded clan who seldom mingle with the outer world. This would be the last hope for Alice. If she didn’t find anything here, all doors will be closed and she will have to return to Astralaya, where her mother will be ready for the foeticide.
Alice reached the settlement area of the clan. It had a huge hoarding named ‘Karmabhoomi, the land of the Brahmanis’. It looked exotic and very promising to her. But the security won’t let her in. She begged with them to let her meet their higher authority. But they wouldn’t budge. Finally, she informed them that she was pregnant with a ‘male’ child. That bought a commotion of sorts within the security personnel and a few of them ran inside the settlement. Soon Alice was escorted into the chamber of their leader.
“Welcome dear. I am Devi, the Brahmani head. So what brings you here?” Devi queried.
“My name is Alice. I am an artist from Astralaya. After three failed attempts at insemination, this is my fourth and final as per law. I am around four months pregnant. But with a ‘male’ child. Our government wants to terminate my pregnancy.”
Listening to Alice, Devi jumped up from her seat, hugged and kissed her forehead, “Are you the chosen one?”
Alice was mystified. “I don’t know about that. But I want to be a mother. No one in the world knows or talks about ‘male’. Is it wrong or bad to carry one?”
“No my child. You are not wrong, but the blessed one. How did you find about us?” Devi looked puzzled.
“I searched for books on ancient lineages and mysteries. And stumbled upon a book by Revathi Aravind.”Before Alice could continue, Devi rejoiced, “She is our ancestor. Long live her legacy.”
“Can you please enlighten me about my fetus?” Alice hastened the discussion.
“Alice, males are the opposite gender to us, females. They have been extinct for ages. Males and females co-existed in harmony centuries ago. They needed one another’s love and support. An off-spring or progeny was a result of their union. However, a terrible pandemic struck the world around three centuries ago. The male population started depleting systematically. There is no proper recording of the reasons for their extinction. However, scientists around the world sensed an immediate need to find solutions. Before the whole pool of male sapiens was extinct, scientists collected as many reproductive cell samples as possible. They worked for decades to find ways to multiply these cells. It was the only hope for the Earth to live. Consequently, there was no need for a male member in the society. In time, scientists could not only multiply the cells but also reframe the chromosomal structures. These refashioned chromosomes produced only female offsprings.”
“Let me explain. There are two types of chromosomes. The X and Y chromosomes, that determine the biological sex of an individual: females inherit an X chromosome from the father for a XX genotype, while males inherit a Y chromosome from the father for an XY genotype (mothers only pass on X chromosomes). Fathers were the male companion to a female mother. Scientists modified this basic structure and destroyed the Y chromosome altogether. Humans were no longer conceived naturally. They were injected with the male cells during ovulation to produce offsprings.”
“This is a little too much for me to discern,” Alice complained.
“Here, take this book. It is one of the ancient guides to procreation. Take your time, read it. I am glad that you came to us. We are the custodians of the past, the caretakers of Vedic studies, and scriptures. Our clan lives on Earth in the hope that someday, a miracle would happen and a male child will be born. Life on Earth would return to the way God created it. Thrust your faith in us and take some rest now. The security will escort you to the guest quarters,” and Devi took leave.
Alice was feeling much better now, but how was she supposed to face the world. A world that despises a male child. A few days passed at the settlement. She felt very welcome here and was taken utmost care of.
Alice’s presence in Nilgiri spread like wildfire. One thing led to the next and it was hot news all over the world. There were debates and pressure on the Jambhudweep government to locate her and terminate the child. The common women had heard the word ‘male’ for the first time. Many tried to research on the topic. Soon there were two sides, one which wanted the child and the other which didn’t. Military forces were sent to Karmabhoomi to negotiate terms with Devi. But, as per an agreement signed decades ago, no one could be allowed to interfere with Karmabhoomi’s governance. Hence their hands were tied.
Finally, Captain Joyce had to take things in her hand and she traveled to Jambhudweep to convince her daughter. She was permitted to meet Alice but not alone.
“What have you got yourself into Alice? The world is against you and you are following these nomads. Come, let’s go home. This place is not safe for you,” Joyce ordered.
Alice was piqued by her curtness, “Nomads? Incidentally, they are one of the highly educated people in the world. And I feel safer here. Please leave.”
“Alice, try to understand. You are in the last trimester and women across the world are pledging to send assains to kill you,” Joyce pleaded.
“You could be one of them,” Alice blurted in disgust.
“How could you say that?” Joyce came closer to Alice and gave her a tight hug. She whispered to Alice, “I love you, but I am bound by duty. Sorry,” she took out a mini revolver from her pocket. But to her surprise the security staff were swift and Captain Joyce was arrested.
Alice was shocked, ‘How could a mother do this to her daughter? Probably I am not an outcome of love, as stated in the Vedic texts. I was born as an obligation for the human race to expand. No one can stop me from having this baby. Once it is born, as per law it will have the rights to live.’
The pain in her heart protracted to her entire body. The abstract ache took physical form and her water broke sooner than it should have. Alice wailed in pain, her labour had commenced. Devi arrived to be with her soon. She scrolled her fingers through Alice’s forehead, “Don’t be nervous my child. Everything will be fine. The time has come”
One contraction led to the other and finally after hours of labour, her ‘male’ child was born. The first in centuries. Alice was over the moon. Devi cuddled the child in her arms and christened him, “Kalki, the destroyer of adharma.”
- Astralaya: During the times of Ramayana and Mahabharata, Australia was known as ‘Astralaya’.
- Prasanta Sagara: Pacific ocean according to Indian mythology.
- Jambhudweep: India according to Indian mythology.
- Karmabhoomi: The land where one works.
- Kalki: The prophesied tenth avatar of the Hindu God Vishnu.
- Adharma: Adharma is the Sanskrit antonym of dharma.Connotations include discord, disharmony, unnaturalness, wrongness, evil, immorality, unrighteousness, wickedness, and vice.
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