“Infinity is the end. End without infinity is but a new beginning.”
“What do you mean you can’t find him?!” asked Varya, furiously. Her mother was standing beside her, crying, frantic with worry.
“I’m sorry ma’am,” said the police officer, “but when we came here, this was the state the car was left in…abandoned on the street, every glass broken, but no passenger inside…all we found was the cell phone. We checked the entire perimeter, but we couldn’t find your father or anyone else injured…”
“Officer please check again…if the car broke down here, he must be here somewhere!” cried her mother.
“We’re trying our best ma’am–”
“Sir…Sir! I think I’ve found something!” shouted another officer.
He held a handkerchief which was wrapped around a pen. Varya recognized the pen and the kerchief. It belonged to her father.
The officer was reading something written on the kerchief, but he kept frowning the entire time.
“Sir, do you know what language this is?” he asked the officer standing beside Varya.
The senior officer took the handkerchief, but his expression made it clear that he couldn’t make head or tail of whatever was written on it either.
“Mrs. Vishvamitra,” the senior officer addressed Varya’s mother, “do you recognize this language? You mentioned your husband is a specialist in languages; can you understand what’s written here by any chance? This might have been written by him…”
“Well, this has been written by my husband, certainly, it’s his handwriting, but he had an accident once and had forgotten all those other languages years back…maybe this accident..” mumbled Varya’s mother, wiping off her tears, “…I never tried to learn all the languages he knew…I cannot…Varya, have a look..” said her mother, handing the kerchief over to Varya.
What was written on the kerchief shocked Varya. This was a language she had learned 10 years back. All this while she thought she had forgotten how to read it; and since the accident, she thought her father did not remember it too…until now. She never thought her father would ever use it again. Back then they used it as a code language, as a joke really, just to annoy her mother. It brought back a million memories. She was surprised and happy to see how easily she could read what was written, but she refused to say anything about it, because that was the first thing her father had asked her to do:
My dearest Varya, do not tell anyone about what has been written here.
Do not look for me, tell your mother I’m absolutely fine.
Protect The Book Varya, do not let it out of your sight, you will need it’s help,
do not let it fall into the wrong hands.
You have to save the world, you have to solve the prophecy,
you have to fight evil.
With love, Always, Abba.
Varya didn’t know what her father meant.
“..mystery…prophecy…evil…what?” thought Varya. The only part she understood out of those seven lines was “protect the book”, which was something her father had asked her to do the first time he had given her the book…everything else, was a mystery.
“Ma’am, can you understand anything that has been written here?” asked the officer.
“I…I’m afraid I can’t.” she said. When the officer was about to take the kerchief back she said, “Could I keep this, officer? Maybe I can find something in my father’s books–”
“But ma’am this could be impor–”
“I know officer, but it’s…I don’t know if we’ll ever–” she stopped mid-sentence, looking up at the officer, her eyes seconds away from giving in to the tears she had been holding in for so long.
The clouds had begun to rumble now.
The officer thought it better to let Varya keep the kerchief. After all, what good could a piece of writing do to people who couldn’t even read it? At least it would give some assurance to the young girl and her mother…
“Fine. Keep it. I promise I’ll do everything in my power to look for your father..” he said. “I think it’s about to rain. You should go back home with your mother. We’ll let you know if we find anything at all.”
“Thank you, officer.”
Drishika woke up late at night at the sound of one of her brother’s violent snores. Her throat slightly dry, she got up from her bed to go downstairs, stopping by the couch on the way to take the guitar away from the clutches of her sleeping brother’s firm hands and keep it aside.
On the way downstairs she heard voices from her parent’s bedroom; angry voices. She went closer and opened the door a chink.
“…I know you said you’ll be out for long hours Mahesh…I agree it’s a tough job. But you had not mentioned that you will not be taking the responsibilities of a father, and a husband…Which job doesn’t allow a man to live a normal life?!”
“CBI, Ishani. C. B. I.” said her father. “I am the leader of a special investigation team, okay? Even the minister keeps a record of my assignments.”
“The minister doesn’t keep waiting for you all night, I do. Do you even know I haven’t slept in peace since two weeks while you’ve been spending time with…with her?”
“Uff please not again Ishani…She’s my junior, my colleague…Ishani…please..”
Drishika closed the door silently. Her parents had frequent quarrels about her father’s work and female co-workers. She knew her mother’s worries were pointless; she had had countless number of conversations with her mother, scolding her for being jealous over stupid things and for questioning her father’s love for them. He was a very busy man, her mother knew that, but of course, she just had to fight with him over petty things.
Drishika went downstairs, towards the dinner table and upturned an empty glass for some water. After quenching her thirst, as she was about to go back, she saw a few photographs kept partially inside her father’s briefcase.
As her curiosity got the better of her, she took out the photographs and what she saw confounded her.
The photographs depicted scenes from a bomb blast site; it was completely destroyed, with burnt, dead bodies scattered all over the place. Drishika recognized this scene. It was the exact bomb blast she had seen in her vision.
Suddenly, her brother poked her shoulder from behind. “Boo! Hahaha! Wait, what’re you–?”
“Tish, look at these photographs.” She ignored her brother’s silly attempts to scare her, and said. “This…this is what I saw in my vision back then. This is the bomb blast I was talking about!”
“Are you sure?”
“Arey, I’m positive. Hey! What if this is dad’s secret mission? May be this is what he’s investigating, which is why I saw this when I tried to look for him!”
“Well, that certainly explains your bomb blast vision, but what about that old man, what has dad got to do with–?”
They heard footsteps.
Drishika kept the photographs inside the briefcase quickly, and pulled her brother to the other side of the table before letting him run towards the stairs right into their father. “Idiot, this way!”
They hid under the table until their father took his briefcase and the moment he went outside again, they came up from under the table.
“Phew! That was close.”
They were about to go up to their room when suddenly–
“Arey, what are you two doing here?”
Hriday woke up. He checked the wall clock. It was almost 2:00 a.m. He knew he ought to go back to sleep, but he didn’t want to. For some reason, he felt very, very strange. He smiled.
He had been waiting for this very feeling for the past ten years. What he felt couldn’t be explained. He felt so free, so light. He felt he could do anything he wanted to. In fact, all he ever wanted to do was fly. But he was never confident enough about it. But tonight…tonight was different. He had the feeling, the feeling in his gut, which told him to just let it go. Just let it all go, and fly.
He must have been thinking about all this and without even realizing it, had gone up to the terrace.
He did the same thing he did before jumping off — seek blessings from God. But this time he was more assured, much more confident than he had felt in years.
And then, he closed his eyes and jumped.
For a split second he thought he would fall again, but when he opened his eyes and looked down, he found himself suspended midway, in thin air. Smiling widely, he landed softly on the lower terrace, and then, a voice, it’s tone surprised and curious, called him from behind.
Hriday kept urging his brain to think of some good excuse to give to his father, but his thumping heart wasn’t allowing his brain to function properly.
“I hope you weren’t trying to do anything stupid Hriday, were you?” Hriday’s father asked, his voice calm, but his tone– angry. Very, very angry.
“In that case, itni raat ko, what was Suhaas Atri’s son doing on the terrace?!” roared his father.
“P-p-papa I was just–“
“Arey Hri, why are you here? I told you na, to go to the terrace and concentrate on the Saptarishi Mandal? Abhi choro, jao, it’s quite late now; go sleep.” Ima had come to save him just on time, as usual.
He said, “G-good night, Papa“, and almost ran back to his own room.
“You should go sleep too Suhaas, raat bohot ho chuki hai.”
“If anything at all happens to my son,” said Suhaas, “remember this Ima, I’ll have you to blame.”
His eyes narrow, he got up from his study table, and went back to his bedroom, while Ima looked at his retreating back, worried about what Hriday will have to do to fulfill his purpose, and how her son-in-law will react to it.
Asmin got down the stairs as quietly as possible, dressed in blue jeans, a black tank top and a red leather jacket. She had a small backpack with water, junk food, some clothes, and money stuffed in it. She peeped in through the open door of her little brother’s bedroom, blew him a kiss, wiped her tears off, and then kept walking towards the dining table.
She kept a letter on the table, before leaving. It said:
I know this is wrong,
but I have to prove myself to everybody.
It was almost morning. But Haryaksh still couldn’t sleep. He kept staring at the ceiling fan. He was about to doze off when a few sharp bangs on the door made him sit up.
He opened the door and saw three policemen standing outside, with his own picture and a few papers in hand, waiting for him. They showed him the paper where an arrest warrant had been written.
“Haryaksh Vashishth, you’re under arrest for the murder of Mohanraj Varma.”
“Yes Roshni, did we get any leads?” asked Mahesh.
“We got a photo of our main suspect.” she said, smiling. She handed him the photograph of a man.
Mahesh recognized the famous scientist.
“Are you sure about this Roshni?”
“Hundred percent! It’s Dr. Charak.”
It was 3:02 a.m. Dr. Charak kept his right eye focused. The telescope would show him the signal any moment now.
Just as he averted his eyes to check the time again, his watch struck 3:03 a.m.
Instantly, he looked up at the sky just as the seven stars of the Big Dipper showed themselves, and grew brighter and brighter in the night sky.
As the sky imitated her emotions and let it’s waters shower heavily on her city, Varya opened her drawer where her book was kept.
The book felt heavier than usual.
As she opened the book, she discovered that new pages, ones she had never read before, had miraculously appeared in the book!
“Om Bhur, Bhuva, Swaha
Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi
Dhiyo Yonaha Prachodayat”
Dr. Charak kept chanting the mantra, hands shaking in a respectful namaste towards the Saptarishi constellation; his eyes moist, his face gleaming with the tears he had shed in a moment of weakness.
The moment he had been waiting for all his life had come. When he would finally fulfill the purpose of his existence; when his years of tapasya…his knowledge, practice and patience would finally be of some use to the universe; when he would train the new Saptarishis of this yug, the Kaliyug.
Lit up only by the faint light of a flickering bulb, a bald man clad in black attire stood on the edge of the roof of an abandoned building. His kurta and pajama were as black as the night sky. But unlike the darkness within him, the sky was illuminated by seven stars. Seven bright stars.
The time has come, thought the man. The war between good and evil begins today. They say no matter how powerful evil may be, it doesn’t stand a chance against good. Good will always win over evil.
But not this time.
This time, although the war has already been written in the scriptures, the end to the war has not been written. This time, it is not certain which side will win. For this, is the Kaliyug, the era of destruction.
The man raised his arms, but he did not join them in a namaste. He held them up, wide open, like a phoenix, mustering his energy for something big. And as his arms rose, so did his feet; his entire body rose up in the air, his silhouette almost ghostly against the backdrop of the flickering bulb.
The city below him looked bright with numerous tiny lights. He wasn’t strong enough, yet, to make the stars look any less brighter, but he couldn’t bear to see the city shine so bright.
“The time has come, Charak”, whispered the deep, calm voice. “It’s time for us to meet again.”
As the man joined both his hands together, slowly, his hands engulfed the brightness of the city, extinguishing every tiny speck of light. As his hands drew closer, he clapped them hard, extinguishing the last light in the city, the one that was flickering weakly behind him, leaving him and the city in a state of complete darkness.