“Hold each other’s hands and feel the energy of oneness. We all are one. Mere bodies of flesh and blood, tied as one. One universe, one family, one soul.
Remember, HE is watching us from above. Every move, every step you take in life is being noticed. If you feel lonely and deserted. Be assured, you are not alone. HE is there for you. HE never abandons his children. Trials and tribulations are a part of life. Only HE can save you from the ocean of misery. Pray, pray, pray! Name the Lord, hail the Lord. And HE will show you signs. HE will take your pain, Hail Hail Hail. He waits at the gate of heaven to welcome you with open arms,” Pastor Lewis blared from the TV screen.
“Hail, Hail, where’s the sign bro,” Michael smirked as he sipped some beer from a can. And changed the channel from Paradise TV to some random news channel where they were debating a trivial issue.
Somewhere in the background of the chaos, he heard a ringing sound. It took a while for him to realize that it was his cell phone ringing. He ransacked the table on which his feet rested. Pushing aside empty cans of beer that lay unattended on the table. The earsplitting ring accelerated exponentially, breaking the decibel barriers. Michael spurted as many cuss words as he could manage in the meantime. Finally, he got hold of the cell phone.
“Oh good, Lord! Not again,” he cut the call for the umpteenth time in the week.
Click Click Click
The best sale of the year is here…
The Pandemic has not only hit humanity harshly but it has exposed the vast disparity in the system…
Michael kept on pressing the next button on the remote control, no channel ever showed what he wanted to watch.
“No one is here.”
“I don’t have treats for Halloween.”
“Bloody, who the hell are you.”
Michael marched towards the front door and flung it open.
“WHAT?” he blasted.
A young man in his thirties stood at his door with a wide smile (that’s what Michael envisioned to be there behind the blue surgical mask). Michael peeped above the man’s shoulder to find an array of people dispersed across the street, some holding huge play cards, some with charts reading slogans.
“I don’t have money for any donation. Sorry.”
“Donation? No No, Mr. Michael. I am your neighbor. You don’t seem to remember me. We are here for your support. Come join us.”
“Join you? For what?” At that, very instant a woman’s voice screeched like a siren, Black lives matter, Black lives matter. She walked to the fore of the crowd, raised a punch in the sky, and blurted aloud, Justice to everyone, Black lives matter.
Michael smiled and burst into laughter. The man at the door looked more amazed than irritated, “What is so funny, Mr. Michael?”
“When we are born, we cry that we are come to this great stage of fools.”
Michael had crossed the limit and the man held Michael’s collar, “Are you calling me a fool?”
“No, No, stop,” Liza squirmed through the crowd and reached the door, “Sorry Mister, my cousin is just trying to quote Shakespear. Nothing pertaining to you or the good samaritans that follow you. Please leave him alone,” Lisa begged as the mini-crowd left the porch. She pushed Michael inside and shut the door.
“Welcome cousin,” Michael smirked, “What brings you here? And I am not ‘all ears’ to sermons today.”
“I am also not in the mood. What a mess have you made of yourself? What was the last time you cleaned the house? Did you even get out of the house? Yuck! This place stinks. Did you take a bath, man?”
“And here she goes….’I am not in the mood’ it seems,” Michael winked.
“Why didn’t you pick up my calls? I have been calling you for the past week. I had to drive across states to get to you.”
“What brings you here Lisa?”
“Michael, you are sixty-two, with high diabetes and blood pressure. I don’t know how long I will be able to meet you. I am also getting old. Please admit yourself into a care home. At least I will be peaceful if someone is there to take care of you. “
“Lisa I am as fit as fine wine. Nothing will happen to me.”
“Ohh, and what about the bashing that I saved you from at the door? Stop ruining your life.”
“Ruining? That work was done well by my father. That know it all ruined my life. He was so deeply engrossed in self-glory, that he failed to realize that I was alive.”
“Stop cursing uncle Thomas for your shortcomings. I know you hated him. Leave it at that. Whatever you say, he is still believed to be one of the greatest scientists of our century.”
Michael rolled his eyes as he increased the television volume. It was easier to drown the discussion and the pain that his father gave him in the sounds of the reel world.
“Michael! Michael! Stop behaving like a child,” Lisa stood in front of the television screen rolling off her tongue and arms in various athletic movements to make a point.
Though Michael was physically present yet he was mentally in a different era.
His grey matter flashed the disappointments and yearnings of the past. His mother’s death and the constant absence of a father figure throughout his growing years. He only had a bitter relationship with his father. A father who was busy working as a scientist and who failed to be by his son’s side when he needed him emotionally. Michael’s only complaint was that his mother was dead and his father failed to rise up to the occasion. He felt strangulated by his father’s fame and wealth.
His only solace was his cousin, Lisa. She had taken it upon herself to bridge the gap between the father-son duo but in vain.
He recollected the day when he reached home drunk as a teenager. His father stood at the door with a dismal look on his face. A vision of disappointment and failed parenting danced with stupor in front of him.
“Michael, look at me. Hold my hands, let me help you, please. Let’s start afresh. Enroll yourself in a good college, study science, and assist me,” Thomas patted Michael’s back, “Who knows one day this father-son duo may win a Noble Prize. Believe me, you will be thankful to me one day for this advice.”
Michael burst out laughing, holding his stomach, “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth, It is to have a thankless child,” and he bowed down in style in front of his father making a dramatic point.
Lisa rushed to his rescue. She held Michael’s arms and pulled him inside their house, “Sorry, Uncle Thomas. He has just started reading a lot of Shakespeare. I will try to put some sense into him when he gets sober.”
Lisa held Michael’s shoulder and jolted him back into the present.
“Are you even listening to me, Michael? And what was that at the door? These people are struggling for us, they are our voice. Do you realize the extent of potholes in the healthcare system? We are being denied basic treatment. The medical vitals for us, and the others are different, for example, the BMI itself is standardized which does not take into consideration our genetics. We are still looked down. It’s not just healthcare, haven’t you heard of the black man who was harassed by the cops for no fault of his?”
“What should I do about it?”
“If you don’t support, at least act a little mannered in front of them,” Lisa was on the brink of an anger attack.
“What brings you here, Lisa?”
Lisa pulled her emotions together and took a deep breath, “Remember the antique necklace that Grandmother gave me? I have misplaced it somewhere. The last time when I visited, I went to your basement to clean the place. Though I wasn’t able to move any item there, still I believe my necklace is there. Please go and get it.”
“Do it yourself, Madam. I haven’t been to the place after your beloved uncle’s demise. The place reeks of his presence.”
“You have to Michael. I have a horrible complaint of dust allergy and my wheezing issue is at an all-time high. Come on, please do this for me,” Lisa gestured with a folded hand.
Michael waved his hand and walked towards the stairs that lead to the basement. He was happier alone and wished her gone as soon as possible. He shouted from the steps, “You will be responsible if your uncle’s ghost strangulates me.”
He heard Lisa replying to him, but by then he was at the end of the stairway. He searched for the switchboard in the dark and managed to light a dim bulb. Wading through the cobweb of old items, he stumbled and hit his feet a number of times. Finally, at a distance, he saw a shimmering object. Indeed, it was the necklace. He held a rope hanging from the roof for support while he bent to pick up the necklace.
“Ahhhh,” Michael held his palm on his forehead, something had fallen on his head. He felt a little lightheaded and claustrophobic. He cursed his father, “That old man and his maze of a house.”
He held the trunks beside him and stood up. As he was about to walk back to the stairs he stumbled upon an open box. His old weary knees crackled as he bent. He picked it up and opened it. An antique-looking watch rested in it. But the dials were different. There were no seconds, minutes, or hours hand in it. Michael shoved the box into his long pockets and alighted the stairs.
“Here, take this,” he gave the necklace to Lisa.
Lisa was elated to find her lost necklace, they had a fulfilling lunch, and soon she left town.
Once Lisa left, Michael grabbed the box.
“Must be the old man’s doing. But who designs a watch that can’t tell the time?” He placed the watch near his ear, “It’s still ticking though.”
He banged the watch on his palm to see if there are any changes, but none.
“There should be a manual in the box.”
The box had a thin layer of velvet. He picked it up to find a piece of sheet. It read:
After years of efforts to build a machine that could reverse time, finally, my dream has come true. Though I had formulated the design well, yet it lacked the fuel to get it started. That’s when I found a meteorite burning ablaze in my backyard. Once cool, it emanated a blue radiance. I tried to break it open but in vain. For a little over a year, I tried various ways to crack it open. Finally, one fine day, I just inserted a huge syringe needle and tried to see if it penetrated.
It was indeed that simple. And once in, I pulled the nozzle of the syringe, which started filling with a blue glittery liquid. The mineral does not stand anywhere in the periodic table. And hence, I call it the ‘Unobtainium’. An idea struck and I tried using it as fuel for my time machine. It worked. To protect it from criminal and illegal use, only my son can wear the watch. The settings in the watch will identify his DNA. Once on the wrist, state the time you would like to visit. The time machine will take you.
Note: One drop of Unobtainium to be used for a one-time jump. The capacity of the watch is just three drops.
PS: Michael, the mineral is safe in our den. I love you, Son.
Michael stood dumbstruck. Was this a key to something even bigger, or a practical joke that his dead father wished to play with him?
“Our den? What is he talking about? I was never so close to him, then how did he?” Michael looked at the watch, “What if it’s true?”
He tied the watch around his wrist, it immediately lit with blue fluorescence. As was mentioned in the manual sheet, he now had to go back in time.
“Where should I go?” he saw the wall clock that struck three, “Ah! Fifteen hours, and maybe since my father died in 1997, let’s combine the numbers to 1597. Yes, 1597, England, a place that I could love to live in.”
A whirlpool of blue light engulfed Michael. He felt a sudden gush in his nerves. He passed through a tunnel of timelines and was thrown from the opening. Michael fell to the ground. He adjusted his clothes as they were fluttering on his thin frame. He felt younger and healthier.
He stood up to find himself in a lightly lit shady place. Men were jostling around with mugs in hand. Some danced with damsels, and some cried over their own miseries.
“Ah! A bar of the golden era,” he walked down to a table where a man sat with his forehead held in his palms.
“May I Sir?” Michael sat at the table.
The man looked up and yelled, “Fill my ale, thee slave.”
Michael wished to punch him, but he recognized him in a jiffy.
“William? William Shakespeare?” he was mystified.
“Ay,” he nodded, “And thou art?”
“I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano, A stage where every man must play a part,
And mine a sad one.”
“Wonderful, Oh poetic friend” William clapped. He immediately pulled out a paper from his pocket and started jotting down the phrase, “I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano… Wait. How do thee knoweth that my character’s name is Gratiano? You lowly scullion. Did Ye steal my script,” saying so William headed to grab Michael’s collar. Michael sprang up on the table and jumped to the next, jostling through the crowd. He instantly remembered the watch and clicked the button. But he didn’t know where to go.
“I must go home,” he thought.
While running away from Shakespeare, he bumped into two men who were fighting. The fist-fighter banged on Michael, “Give me my eighteen hundred coins.”
“Eighteen Hundred?” and in a second Michael was surrounded by a whirl. He fell with a thud on a dry field. A few men came running towards him. One man extended his hand, “Son, come with us.”
Michael smiled, “This sounds like an adventure,” and walked along. They inquired about his whereabouts, which he couldn’t answer specifically.
“What work you do, son?” a man in his fifties walked up to him, “I am Noel Gangly.”
Michael froze. Never in a lifetime did he think that he will meet his famous forefather.
“Son, son, what you name?”
“I am Michael Sir.”
“Good, you work in the paddy field?”
“Yes, Sir, sure.”
Michael was still processing the fact that he met his ancestor who strived for equality in a time when no one believed in it. Michael wished to stay and understand the people and their culture. He became friends with his great-grandfather. For days they would work together at the paddy field. But he never saw his great-great-grandfather for many days. He was always busy traveling and revolutionizing the thought of equality.
On a lazy evening, Michael sat by a stream with his great grandfather.
“Mr. Gangly Jr., don’t you despise your father? He is never around. In the pretext of helping others, he has left you alone. At times when you most need him, don’t you feel betrayed?”
“No, Michael never. In fact, I feel proud that he is helping others. I wish to stand by him in every revolt and every task he takes. Some men are born ordinary, but some extraordinary men strive their whole lives to make the lives of others meaningful.
We should not demean their hard work. They are full of passion, empathy, and mercy for mankind. They will give away their everything for a greater cause. Including us, family. That does not mean they do not love us. They do love us, but for them, every minute counts, and they cannot sit for hours expressing their love and loyalty to us. I have learned a lot from my father, not by staying with him, but by staying beside his ideologies. Also, my father encouraged me to read and write. Isn’t that in itself a big help and blessing from him?”
Gangly Jr. pulled out a book from his pocket, “See, this is William Shakespeare’s book. I love these lines, can you read?” he placed his fingers on the lines.
“The quality of mercy is not strained,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.”
They both smiled. One for imparting great learning, and the second to not only receiving the pearls of wisdom but also the family heirloom, ‘Stories by William Shakespeare.’
They were about to call it a day when a commotion broke out. Both of them ran towards the fields only to find the landlord with goons.
“Finish them all,” one of the white men shouted.
Michael, Mr. Gangly Jr., and their accomplices ran helter-skelter for their lives. The goons carried weapons and sharp knives. They started a blood bath in the middle of the field.
“Michael, run,” Mr, Gangly Jr. screamed but in vain. A knife slid through Michael’s back and emerged from the front. Blood spat on the golden paddy fields. His whole life spun in front of his eyes. The many mistakes he made, the disappointing behavior he had with his father, and the fact that he could never become the son that he should have ideally been.
“What a waste of a lifetime!” he murmured. Michael fell to the ground gasping for breath, an excruciating pain wiped his soul, his face became paler by the second.
“Wish I had listened to you dad! Wish I held your hand on the day you extended it towards me. I could have changed the course of my life.” The world became dimmer and darker as Michael closed his eyes.
Michael opened his eyes to the blue ocean of swirls around him. He was lifted from the ground. He glanced at the field to look at his great-grandfather perplexed.
“Ah! Does dying also feel the same!” he exclaimed.
In a spree to save Michael, Mr. Gangly had unknowingly switched on the button on his wrist. Mr. Gangly stood stunned looking at the slowly disappearing frame of Michael.
Thomas opened the door, “Michael, look at me. Hold my hands, let me help you, please. Let’s start afresh. Enroll yourself in a good college, study science, and assist me,” Thomas patted Michael’s back, “Who knows one day this father-son duo may win a Noble Prize. Believe me, you will be thankful to me one day for this advice.”
Michael smiled and looked into his father’s eyes for the first time, “Yes, Sir. I will. We will.”
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