Saturday, February 7, 2015

CONCLUDING PART - THE DREAM OF A DISTURBED MAN - With due apologies to the makers of the movie ‘PK’ and to one of the great short stories of Dostoevsky – ‘The Dream of a Ridiculous Man’

CONCLUDING PART  - THE DREAM OF A DISTURBED MAN - With due apologies to the makers of the movie ‘PK’ and to one of the great short stories of Dostoevsky – ‘The Dream of a Ridiculous Man’
That night DY kept me awake, telling me more about his planet and the way it had changed ever since PK returned. I let him have his say even as I fought of the sleep demons. My eyelids did droop from time to time but I was alert to what he was narrating; after all he would be gone the next day and I was also interested. Another consideration was that this was an alien himself in an alien land and I was concerned for I wanted to ensure that once he left my house he should be able to find his footing as fast as possible in the hostile environment that awaited him outside. In a sense I felt responsible. I had not factored in his alien intelligence, his special capabilities of reading other people’s mind and his powers of manipulation which I did suspect he must have picked up from PK (who I was sure had carried it back, as a takeaway after his sojourn on our Earth and imparted to his fellow Planetites).
DY said “You know we have been watching you guys from up there and have accurate data as to all the upheavals and advancements that have taken place here. But like I said we are a thousand years ahead of you in terms of evolution. We were once like you are now. We now live in peace and desire nothing; at least that was the case till PK returned from your Earth and planted a virus in our midst. There is fear that we shall once again revert back to those centuries of war, strife and domination, which ultimately ended in the Great War that nearly annihilated our entire race. In the process of rebuilding arose an awareness that survival depended on our emotional responses to our environment, be it a tree, an animal or a fellow being and living in harmony. The knowledge we sought was more for betterment of our lives together. All we sought was peace and not domination. You know we have no religion, temples, mosques or churches. God for us is the very air we breathe in and on death we believe we escape the trappings of this body which had become no longer fit enough to hold us back and merge with the larger picture. I want you to understand that we have kept God away from us as a fulfiller of wishes and as a dispenser of punishments. We do not need him in our daily lives as we have learnt to be happy and accepted life and death as part of a universal design.
At this stage I interrupted “But how do you ensure that your people stay together? There has to be some sort of administration or governance. Who is responsible to ensure the needs are met?”
“Oh, there is an elected Council of Elders, persons who have proven themselves in their chosen fields of activity and earned the respect of the people. There is no fixed term, some of the elders move out from time to time voluntarily to make way for others.”
As I listened to DY I felt more and more convinced that his was a planet that I would never opt to live in. What is life I thought, devoid of conflicts and from what DY told me there was no place for hope or faith as they were not needed. Wouldn’t life be so boring and meaningless if one were to be totally satisfied? Strange but that is the reality to which we are used to, and that is why we need these Gods, Godmen and Stones. Without them we are lost. “But if you are so happy out there why did you send PK down here in the first place?” I asked.
“You know PK was not the first. Nearly five hundred years ago one of our people did land up here. He had been part of the team that been monitoring your planet and had gathered enough information to know what was going to happen here in the next five hundred years or so. But he never returned. We did keep track of him and found that he had settled down as an Earthling and later became famous here for his predictions and you people till this day believe that all that he had said had come to pass and elevated him to the status of a prophet. It was a mystery to us as to why he never returned. That was one of the reasons why PK was sent, to find out the true reason” he said.
“Who was he? How was he known here?” I asked as a familiar name cropped into my mind.
“Oh, you people called him Nostrodammyou” he replied.
“In retrospect I now feel that sending PK down was a mistake. We are a planet where goodness rules. What started as a curious observation soon turned into concern. Yes, our goodness made us concerned about the way things were beginning to happen in your Earth. We could foresee the path you people would ultimately follow. Our model is based on the observations we have been making of your planet. You are headed towards a Great War which will result in near total annihilation here. May be we cannot change the course of destiny, but definitely you can be better prepared to handle it. That is why PK was sent to caution. We never expected that in the process he would be overwhelmed by what he saw and experienced. He returned infected with that virus of dissatisfaction. That is now spreading.”
“Well, what do you expect to do out here? Do you expect to find a solution to the present problems on your planet?”
“Frankly I do not know. The only way I see is to get PK back to this planet of yours and make him stay here permanently like Nostrodammyou”.
“And how do you think that would be possible?” I asked.
“As I see it there is only one way. You know that woman who was with him when he was here, my sources tell me that he had fallen in love with her. She is the only one who can make him return. Alas! I heard that she was in love with someone else and married him. PK returned a heartbroken man and I suspect that all this disappointment he carried back with him he spread it amongst our people as dissatisfaction. So I really do not know.”
“Don’t be disheartened. There’s good news. You see the marriage never really lasted. That was a doomed relationship from the start – conflict of faiths and a perpetual conflict between the two countries. In the end she must have thought that it would have been better if she had married the Alien, for whom she had also developed feelings and which crystalized only after he had left.”
“That’s good news. How do I find her?”

I must have at last dozed off sometime during his narration. I woke up with a start as the ringing of the doorbell pierced the silence of the morning. That must be the milkman, I thought. I got from my bed, but how come, the last I remembered was lying on the sofa in the living room listening to DY’s narration. There were sounds in the kitchen, what the hell was DY doing there? I slowly made my way to the kitchen to find out what was happening.
“So at last you decided to get up from bed. What’s wrong with you?”
“Me? When did you come back? I thought you were coming back by the evening flight?” I said.
My wife looked at me “Are you ok? Something is definitely wrong with you. I have not been anywhere. You have slept like a log for ten hours at a stretch; that is nearly half a day. The whole night you kept murmuring in your sleep and in the process kept me awake for most of the night. Let’s go to the doctor today, you have not been your usual self for the last one week since we went to that movie about the Alien. You still appear as if you are in a hangover.”
“But where’s DY?” I asked still reeling from the shock of seeing my wife standing in front of me.
“What DY? Is it a man or a woman? My God! Don’t tell me you are having an affair on the sly.” She nearly shouted.
“No, no DY is an alien like PK, you see.”
“Now I am sure” she said, “you need a shrink. You are out of your mind. I have told you again and again to look for some assignment after retirement to keep you occupied. You never listened. The only thing you have been doing is sit in front of the computer, watch movies and be perpetually on the phone talking to someone or the other. Daydream, Nightdream and what else? This is getting serious, we can’t wait any longer. I will get an appointment with doctor fixed for this evening itself.”
“Wait, wait listen to me. It was so real that I cannot still believe whether that was a dream or this conversation I am having with you. Well you can at least listen to what I have to say first” I pleaded.
As I finished retelling the events of the previous night, which to her was my dream and to me so real, she slowly got up and picked up her phone and rang up the doctor.
She turned to me and said “The doctor is out of town and is expected back only tomorrow, so the appointment is fixed for the day after. I am at a loss as to how to handle you for the next two days.”
I kept quiet for I did not really have anything to say. I sat down with my cup of coffee, picked up the day’s newspaper and switched on to my favorite channel ‘Times Never’ on the TV; a ritual ever since I retired. My attention was drawn instantly to the Newsreader’s special announcement –
“Tune in to your 9’oclock show tonight. We have something special and out of this world for you. It is our inimitable Arnold Ghostbaiter in conversation with DY. In case you are wondering who this DY is, all we can tell you now is, he is a cousin of PK from Planet X. PK as you all know created quite an upheaval here when he accidentally landed on Earth and quite a few of our politicians and Godmen were happy to see the back of him when he went back. What is DY’s mission now? To find out, tune in to ‘Times Never’ tonight. There never has been a channel like this and never will be”
My wife stood there, her mouth wide open and the only word that escaped her lips were “My God!”
And across the TV screen ‘Arnold Ghostbaiter in conversation with DY from Planet X at 9pm today’ beamed at us.

(May be I shall tell you about that some other time) 


GS Subramanian said...

Kerala Varma comments on FB:
When you say the concluding part, we the readers have the same feeling the girl had when PK left. I just spoke to the shrink you're meeting tomorrow. She says the only cure is to stop writing and take a long walk. She'll give you a medicine bottle to make you keep walking. It's called Johny Walker.

GS Subramanian said...

Rammohan Rao Belle comments on FB:
Like famous authors, u have kept a window open for more to come, notwithstanding the concluding part. Well conceived, GS. U haven't changed a bit from the 70s. Follow KV's advice n take shrink's prescription regularly. U will Keep Walking n dreaming n hopefully, writing

Suprabhat Ganguly said...

Enjoyed reading and I look forward for more such interesting stories from you.