Phantasm

 

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Flights of Fancy

Through the land of mists I glide
With thought beings by my side.
White, misty clouds shroud
Strange creatures that mouth
Hushed whispers, murmurs that grow loud
And emerge from the mists as beings thought out.
Robed in white,
With an inner light,
These creatures ride
Side by side
Through the woods.
Strangers flitting in hoods.
Silver girdles on their waist,
Ambrosia and honey they taste.
Sip off the little brooks that run,
Through the the patches of mists and sun.
When they emerge in light
They become beautiful and bright.
An emanation of the mind,
A figment of a fanciful flight.

The Creators

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In the misty forest, hushed whispers seemed to emanate from the very trees. Mysterious beings rode on strange horses among the trees. Everything seemed to have a fleeting sense of reality. A soft moist breeze twirled its fingers on the white robed, silver girdled riders. A sense of unreal surrounded Jasmine, Jacaranda and Gorge as they walked through the woods from the beach. None of these figures harmed them. They seemed intent on their own tasks.

A soft Zephyrus song seemed to pervade through the mists of the whispery creatures. Suddenly, the mists began to clear and the three reached a meadow by the woods. The meadow was grassy and had a little pond in the middle. There were flowers of different colors in the grass. The sun was peeping out from the mists. The music seemed to be coming from the mysterious white robed creatures that stood by the pond. There was a tall girl with beautiful tawny eyes and hazel hair wearing a tiara made of daisies. From the tiara hung a veil of diaphanous silver. It glittered in the sunrays. The clear voice rose from the girl drowning the earlier notes with its clarity and intensity. It sounded like the sunray had pierced the mists and was ringing out in clear notes.

At a distance, there were some enormous white steeds gamboling around. The sky had a vibrant rainbow on it. The steeds, on closer examination, had wings on them. A group of grey flying horses landed near the white ones and started grazing on the soft green grass. A blue bird chirped and flew out from a tree by the pond. Jasmine, Gorge and Jacaranda looked a little surprised because though they could all hear the song, the singer’s lips did not seem to move. Everything seemed to be in harmony.

As the song rang out, they could see the flowers in the grass bloom and a bright yellow bird flew out from a tree, followed by a red bird. The surroundings seemed to spring to life with the mysterious music. Again the whispers rose in a crescendo and the clear notes dissolved in it. The song slowly seemed to fade into the swiftness of a breeze. The tall, white robed beings now turned their focus on the three intruders.

“Welcome, O creations of Janice and friend,” said a strange voice in their heads. It felt as if all the surroundings spoke in unison. Jasmine, Jacaranda and Gorge looked at them with stunned surprise on their faces.

“We come for help,” said Jasmine.

“We can hear your thoughts,” said the voices. “But we will use voices if you so desire.”

Gorge could sense the speech too. He was absolutely quiet and a bit scared. He had never seen anything so weird.

“Some of you are scared. There is no reason to be scared. We will help and not harm. Trust us,” said the voice.

Three of the white robed creatures, including the girl with the diaphanous veil, came over to where the three of them stood.

Their walk was more like a glide. They were much taller than Gorge, had pale but tawny skins that seemed to glow like moonlight.

“Let us lead you to our halls before we start to talk,” said a tall grey-haired man.

“Summon the steed.” Now, they could see he was moving his lips and talking just like them.

Three of the white horses that had been grazing at the far end of the meadow gamboled over. The three beings got up on the horses each one taking one of the three outsiders with them. Then the steeds took off to the skies. They soared over woods, meandering rivers and meadows till they reached what seemed to be a silver cliff-like structure. The steed descended just outside the cliffs

The riders and their guests descended and they went in through an enormous opening. Jasmine, Jacaranda and Gorge stared in amazement at the hall made of some translucent, crystalline material. The walls seemed to diffuse a natural yellowish white light of their own. There were more of these creatures in the hall.  Most of them were seated in small groups on plush sofas of red and gold against the walls. The floor was covered with downy carpets of mustard color. The shelter seemed to be a kind of cafe as most were sipping drinks in tall glasses. There were some who were behind a counter handing out drinks from different taps. Hushed whispers emanated from the different groups. Sounded like a pleasant chatter. The group sat down on an empty sofa.

The girl in the diaphanous veil broke the silence. “Come partake of some refreshments with us and let us talk over your issues,” she said. “I am Janice.”

“I am Halon ,” said the grey haired man.

“I am Anouk,” said the third man.

“We are from a distant planet called Lemuria,” continued Janice. “ We came here long, long ago. Earlier, we lived with mankind in the same dimension. Then the conflicts between different groups of mankind started. To keep out of these conflicts, we receded to this dimension.”

“I have read that,” pleaded Jasmine. “But we really need your help…”

“I know,” said Janice. “But this will be for the queen and her council to decide. I would like to help as you were an emanation of our ideals. We poured the emanations into your multiple selves as they were being formed. Your parents at some point were visited by dreams from us, which they would have forgotten. The dreams would translate to a physical reality…enough of this. You must be tired. Come, let us have some drinks.”

Janice and Anouk walked to the counter and carried back two trays. There were six tall glasses of a delicious drink. The drink was amber and filled Jasmine, Jacaranda and Gorge with a sense of peace. Their hunger disappeared and they felt rested.

“ Wow!” said Gorge. “What is this?”

“It is delicious,” said Jacaranda.

“This is Ambrosia, our main nourishment,” said Anouk.

“I feel really energized drinking this,” said Jasmine.

“So do we,” said Halon. “ It is our main diet. I would suggest that we adjourn to the queen and her council this evening. This is the time for our refreshment and then, we go back to work.”

“Perhaps, you would like to come with us to another meadow…” said Anouk.

 

The Creators

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Jasper had spent more than three hours in outer space hovering between stations. He was starting to worry that he would run out of his supply of oxygen if he did not go for a refill. Yet, he was worried that the mind police somehow could have figured out things and might have spread their web to the outer rim filling stations. He decided to make a desperate bid to contact Jasmine. He focused his mind on her.

He was desperately looking for her in the mind stream. But, there was no response. There was so much chatter.

The mind police could sense Jasper in the stream. To entrap him within the stream, they created a chatter web. This would make it easier for them to trace his coordinates.

They were now near the cloud where the two mind policemen were keeping a lookout for Jasper. They knew Jasper had not descended and was not on earth. The mind police decided to use the outer space button to locate Jasper. They jammed on the button. They rose swiftly and suddenly higher and higher at a very high speed… Confronted with the bareness of outer space, they felt bewildered. However, they were still in touch with Jasper’s mind stream.

Every time they spotted a red vehicle,they tried to tally the number plate . The mind police had  a blue car.

As they circled around , they spotted Jasper’s car hovering near a space station. They went near the car and tried to lasso it from the back with a laser loop. But, Jasper still had his shield up. The laser bumped off. Jasper swerved. He realized he had been hit. He could see the blue car behind him. He recognized the car belonged to his assistant, Rudolf. But Rudolf would never hit him. He realized the mind police must have somehow got hold of the car and had traced him. Instantly, he quit the mind stream and zoomed away. He was a more practiced and adept driver than the mind police. The mind police followed him as he re-entered Earth’s atmosphere. He went behind thick rain clouds and disappeared again. He had managed to re-enter his hideout.

The mind police again lost him at his new coordinates. They decided to post some more guards at the new coordinates. What they did not know was this time unknowingly they had hit on the coordinates of his hideout. His hideout on the surface looked like a wild mountain.

Jasper felt the roof of his hideout close above him and heaved a sigh of relief as he got out of his vehicle.

Meanwhile, Jasmine, Jacaranda and Gorge followed Daedalus into his office. It was a huge dark cavern lit by fluorescent lights made of phosphorus. The office glowed with bright lights when it heard Daedalus’s voice. The lights were obviously voice-activated. With his fascination for technology, Daedalus experimented with science and magic to come up with unique products every now and then.

“So, tell me now…,”said Daedalus.

Jacaranda related all their adventures to him. Jasmine pitched in to explain how the issue had started.

“Well, I have one thing to say that you youngsters have a lot of spunk! I have one suggestion to make however. The moon is not as safe as you think. They technological dimension has a strong base there. So do some of the other dimensions, including the magical one. Rather, I think you should start thinking of involving the Lemurians. They are the only ones that can negotiate an amicable solution with the creator’s dimension. They are the only ones the creators fear,” said Daedalus.

“The Lemurians!” Said Jasmine. “I have never met one.”

“I cannot leave this isle without risking my very existence,” said Daedalus. “Otherwise, I would have come.”

“What do you mean … risking your existence?”

“Oh! You don’t know…,” said Jacaranda. “When the residents of isle of wonder leave this island, they lose their bodily existence and remain a only as a spirit, which can occasionally show up as ghosts in other dimensions. The souls here have been given eternal existence by a magic woven into the air of the island.”

“Wow!” Said Gorge. “That means I and Jolyn could live forever here…”

“You do have to face a governing council. It consists of people from magical dimension and the Lemurians. We do not want villains to find their way here. That is why there are spells to keep out souls with black hearts in the air too!” said Daedalus. “I have seen Lemurians only once in the governing council. They are seven to eight feet tall. They wear white robes and are peace-loving. They have powers beyond our comprehension and will always help people in need,” said Daedalus.

“Can we pinge to the Lemurian dimension?” asked Jasmine.

“I don’t see why not,” said Daedalus. “I had started work on pinging but abandoned it! Well good to see it taken up again. But, you can’t pinge from the maze as it is magic proof, technology proof and mind stream proof. Come, I will walk you out so that you can start onto the next lap of your journey.”

They again trooped out behind Daedalus, emerging this time outside the labyrinth, near the stream.

“You can pinge here,” said Daedalus. “I want to see you pinge.”

Jasmine took out the tong.

“Now, what is that?” said Daedalus.

“The pinging tongs,” replied the three simultaneously.

“Use it!”said Daedalus. “I want to see it done first.”

Gorge and Jacaranda held onto Jasmine’s shoulder as she clapped the tongs and the three disappeared.

“Hey ! Get back!”shouted Daedalus. “Now, I want to see the work that went into the tongs.”

But, the three were beyond his reach…

In the dragon’s cave in the magic dimension, things had calmed down. Jolyn was still pining for Gorge but the dragon prince had them all out in the garden involved in mind games so that they could hone their telepathic abilities. Jamie had started opening up. He seemed to be getting over his fears. Jacinth had started communicating very basic issues with JaJa using her mind. For instance, she could figure out when JaJa was hungry. She could give a simple command like ‘wait’. But, when a more complex command was needed, she had to take help from the dragon or Jamie.

Jolyn was starting to discover that women could do things too on their own, without men. In her dimension, women depended entirely on men. They did not work outside the home and had very less schooling. Talking to Jacinth, she was learning that men and women were equal and women could have opinions independent of the men in their lives. Jacinth had told her about Emmeline Pankhurst and how women had moved forward in her dimension.

Jolyn wondered how Gorge would react to her new discoveries. She missed Gorge very much all the time…his smile, his touch, his warmth…

 

 

 

 

 

The Creators

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Jacaranda dug into her string bag and pulled out a small, jeweled box. She opened it and took out three sugared balls colored like the rainbow. They seemed to have an iridescent glow about them.

“Here, take one each and chew,” she said.

“ Are you sure?” asked Gorge.

“Trust me,” said Jacaranda and she took one. As she chewed the pill, her neck shimmered like a rainbow, the glow spread to her body and then, she could not be seen anymore! Only the other two sugared pills remained visible. They seemed to be standing in mid-air.

“Hey! Where are you?” said Gorge.

“Show yourself!” said Jasmine.

“I can’t …not for the next hour anyway. This is the result of the invisibility pill. You both take yours, then, you will be able to see me. I can see you. We can start our hunt then. Hurry!” said Jacaranda.

Jasmine and Gorge picked up the pills and chewed. They too shimmered and disappeared.

“Hey, I can see you now!” said Gorge.

“Okay. We are all set now,” said Jasmine. “We should enter the building and look for Jasper, our technological self.”

Saying this, she moved towards the lift door under the rooftop shelter. She pressed the button. The lift came up. As the door opened, a man wearing a mind police uniform came out with a weapon and a radio. He could not see them. He was looking around but could see no one. He went back into the lift. The three of them slipped into the lift with him and descended into the building.

The mind policeman went back to Jasper’s office.

“There was no one in the lift,” he told the officer. The mind police seemed to have set their headquarters in Jasper’s office.

“It is strange that the lift should be called to the rooftop by no one,” said the officer. “Perhaps we should investigate. Kaspar, you keep an eye on things here. The rest of you, let us go up.”

Jasmine, Jacaranda and Gorge had followed the policeman down. They watched and heard the mind police. But the mind police could not see the three standing in the middle of the room.

Jasmine gestured to the other two to follow her. She stepped quietly into the corridor and ran down. Then she entered a room that seemed empty.

“Have they got Jasper?” Jasmine said in a loud whisper to the other two.

“How can we find out?” said Jacaranda.

“Perhaps, if we can get out of here, I can connect with the universal mind stream and find out,” said Jasmine.

“What if they spot your thought wave and come for us?” said Gorge.

“They still cannot see me. So, if I close my mind again, they will lose us,” said Jasmine. “Let us first get out of this building. Look for exit signs.”

The three of them ran out again. They were wearing rubber-soled shoes. As they walked past Jasper’s office again, they could hear voices.

“Why do you think the lift was called up?”

“Do you think that boy could still be in the building or has the girl got here?”

“No. It could not be the girl. She has that uncontrolled mind of Golliwog with her. JaJa cannot shut off her telepathic mind ever…”

“JaJa was not with her in the dragon cloud, remember. We lost them in the sky…property of the dragon cloud the Doom gang said…”

“Wonder if they are still in the sky above us…”

“Strange the way we lost that lot and the boy…”

“Will you shut up and focus on finding them if you value your necks,” said an angry voice which belonged to the commanding officer.

The three ran past the door. As they descended the staircase, they could see guards standing at the door. How could they step out without being noticed, eventhough they were invisible.

Again, the three ducked into an empty room near the exit. This time Gorge came up with an idea.

“You both run for the exit. I will drop something in this room and run and join you. That way when the guard comes to investigate, we can slip out. Do not wait for me. Open the door as soon as the guards enter this room,” said Gorge.

“Sounds like a plan,” said Jasmine.

Jacaranda and Jasmine headed for the front door. As they reached the door, they heard a loud sound. Gorge had picked up a glass paperweight on the table and dropped it. It had smashed to smithereens. One of the guards ran to investigate. Gorge was heading for the exit.

“Hey, you better join me here,” shouted the guard in the room. “There is broken glass all over. No one seems to be around. No one has left the room. It is bizarre. Please come fast.”

As soon as the second guard entered the room and the door was left unprotected, Jacaranda opened the swinging door and the three of them slipped out.

As they ran on the snow, which was coming down fast now, they could see their footsteps leaving marks on the soft white snow that covered the ground. There were round tables and chairs covered with snow in what had been the garden of the building.

“I think the falling snow will cover our footprints,” said Gorge aloud.

“I need a shelter to stand and focus. It is freezing here,” said Jasmine.

“Let’s go under that shed,” said Jacaranda. It was the shed for the parking the flying cars of visitors. The three went in and Jasmine closed her eyes for a couple of minutes. Then she opened them. Her eyes looked frightened.

“Quick, let’s run. I have blocked my mind again. The mind police has figured out that we are hiding here,” she said.

As she was finishing her sentence, the door of the building opened and the mind police started filing out. The three of them ran towards the building. The mind police continued pouring out of the door and running past them towards the parking shed. They, of course, could not see the invisible trio. The three of them slipped in through the open door without bumping into the guards and got into the building.

Again, inside an empty room, the three spoke in whispers. There were still voices of the mind police in the building.

“We need to pinge out to a safe spot,” whispered Jasmine.

“Where?” said Jacaranda.

“Have they got him?” asked Gorge.

“No. But they are angry to have lost all of us. They will kill if they spot any of us,” said Jasmine. “We will need to locate him from a safer spot. Let us go back to that favorite island of yours Jacaranda…the isle of wonder in magicland.”

“We need to hurry. It is past fifty minutes since we took the invisibility pills. The effect of the pill will wear off soon,” said Jacaranda.

Jasmine had the tongs in her hand. Gorge and Jacaranda held on to her shoulders as she clapped the tongs. They pinged. They were still invisible when they landed on the grass of a meadow on the island.

“We will lose our invisibility in few minutes,” said Jacaranda. “We need to find shelter once we are visible.”

“Before that, can we get rid of these clothes? It is warm here,” said Gorge.

“Here goes,” said Jacaranda. She mumbled something and the three were back to their normal war.

“Let’s make a run for shelter,” said Jasmine.

“I know there is a cave near the hill,” said Jacaranda. “We could use that.”

The three ran for the wooded area and then started walking towards the hills.

“Are you guys hungry or not?” said Gorge.

“Okay. Here is a sandwich for each of us,” said Jacaranda, swishing her arms and mumbling a chant. She handed them a sandwich and a packet of milk each. They ate as they walked through the woods in search of shelter. They came upon a stream with fishes of all colors, shapes and sizes.

“We are close now,” said Jacaranda. “ This stream will lead us to the hills and the cave.”

They walked for another half an hour and they were at the foothills. The stream fell like a waterfall from the hill.

“The cave is just there,” said Jacaranda.

The three of them walked towards the cave.

Safe in his hideout in the technological dimension, Jasper was worried. After dinner, he told Matilda, “Tomorrow, I need to try to contact this girl. Perhaps, I will leave our hideout for a short while, fly out to the sky and try to reach her again telepathically…”

“I am scared when you go out like this,” said Matilda.

“I have to for our baby’s sake and our sake try to find a final solution. I did not want to be caught in this crossfire. We have to find a way out. Don’t worry, I won’t be caught,” said Jasper.

 

 

The Creators

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Jasper ran down the cold steel corridors of the weather bureau, pursued by men in blue, the mind police. He tapped on a wall and pressed his thumb on what looked like a little switchboard. A door appeared to the staff washroom. He slid the door open and went in. The door shut and became like another smooth section of the wall. The mind police were confused. Jasper tried to reach out telepathically to the strange unknown girl who had been sending him thought messages earlier, warning him about the mind police. He came across a total blank. The mind police could sense he was around from and looking for Jasmine from his telepathic waves but they could not do anything because all their equipment had to be deployed in the presence of the person. The dream inducer was too slow a weapon for this situation.

Jasper, despite being from the technical dimension, had a strange sense of deja vu with the girl. He had machines read his brain waves to confirm the earlier messages. But the last few days he had been unable to reach out to her telepathically. However, the mind police had intercepted his messages. The mind police had a hunch that Jasmine might have a counterpart in the technical dimension and had traced him. The telepathic messages for further information confirmed their doubts. Jasmine had again blocked off all telepathic communication in fear of being traced.

The mind police had appeared in the technical dimension with exterminators, hoping to erase Jasmine’s technical self, Jasper. The security cameras had shown them entering the weather bureau, where Jasper had been working on an algorithm to keep the temperature steadily at 20 degrees Celsius. He had almost come to the end of the algorithm when he sensed a disturbance in his sense of equilibrium. His telepathic reader sent him warning signals by flashing a red light located at his desk. Jasper knew they had come for him. He rushed out telepathically telling his computer to shut down. But there were too many interferences, which would not allow his computer to function properly. It seemed there were other commanding mind waves. The mind police had managed to fog the security and machine intelligences with combined brain waves. They were really smart. Jasper was trying his best to block his mind from them. But, it was tough. He had been taken unawares. He tried hard to focus his thoughts on his next mathematical algorithm but it kept reverting to his situation.

The mind police had succeeded in jamming the weather machines. The outside started growing cold…people were zapped. Everyone was trying to contact Jasper. It would be easier to find Jasper if they were all looking for him. Jasper took out his laser knife and cut a hole in the wall of the washroom and jumped out in the open. It was growing colder and darker. Jasper had been forced to leave his communicator (a holographic phone) behind for fear of being caught. The mind police had pocketed it as a clue. Jasper skirted the edge of the building. He switched his jacket to winter mode and continued to move with caution. He moved cautiously, hoping to make it to his car. He had sent out a distress signal to his transporter with the remote. He did not know if it would come to his rescue. He saw a flash of red and silver against the glass and knew his transporter was flying to him. It had opened its doors. A robotic claw reached out and grabbed him. It seemed to swallow him like a flying saucer and made off into the distant sky. It became another red transporter, one among many that studded the sky.

The mind police realized they had lost him. They positioned their troops inside the building. The councillors in the creator’s dimension were really upset with them for persistently losing track of all the selves of Jasmine.

Most people had left for home. It was night and the wind was blowing strong. The mind police had put the setting at blizzard hoping that people would be forced to stay away from the office. That way the only person who could rectify the situation would be Jasper and he would be forced out of hiding to help his dimension recover. Jasper had become the chief of the weather bureau at the young age of thirty. He managed the weather of the technical dimension with gadgets made in harmony with nature. Jasper’s empathetic mindset, his telepathic gift and technical prowess had made him an excellent choice.

The mind police focussed on warmth indoors and sat at Jasper’s desk and inside the main entrance.

Jasper’s transporter whizzed into the sky and flew out towards his hideout in the hilly abandoned island. No one, except his immediate family knew about this hideout. On the outside, it continued to look like an uninhabited area. Jasper had moved his wife, parents, parents-in-law and baby into the hideout after getting telepathic messages from Jasmine. He had stocked it up with food and he already had a small self sustaining farm there, which could help the family survive for a good six months without contact with the outside world.

As his transporter flew over the ocean, he could see the gathering snow clouds. He flew straight at the mountaintop, which seemed to open like a gate at a command from his transporter and swallowed him up.

He was safe now against the mind police, he hoped. The landing pad gave way to a room full of computer screens and gadgets. His wife, Matilda, had been monitoring his rides while the baby played with his grandmothers in the enclosed courtyard.

“Good to have you home, honey, all safe and sound,” said Matilda.

Jasper kissed her on the lips and said, “Let’s hope for the best. They have got my communicator. That means I cannot link up to the office unless I create a new identity.”

“Don’t worry. Everything will work out. Come, let’s have dinner,” said Matilda.

“It is growing colder. I think they have tampered with the setting,” said Jasper as he followed his wife into the living quarters of his hideout.

It was quite a large villa concealed by foliage and hidden in a mountains island. In the middle of the villa was an open courtyard with an artificial unbreakable glass roof, which was now closed for safety. It let in the sunshine but the air inside the villa and the garden were controlled by computerized machines created by Jasper. Behind the villa was the organic farm managed by the family, again under a glass dome that could be opened or closed. Currently, it was closed for security. The temperature was always mild. It started to snow outside as the blizzard grew stronger. Soon the glass dome would be covered by snow and would become undistinguishable from the rest of the surroundings. The family was safe.

Meanwhile, Jasmine, Jacaranda and Gorge landed on the roof of the weather office. They did not know that the building was infested with the mind police as both Jasmine and Jacaranda had blocked off all telepathic communication for their own security. The wind was cold and it was starting to feel very cold. The three of them were shivering. Jacaranda started muttering an enchantment and, suddenly, the three of them found themselves clothed in weather appropriate clothes. They clung to the smooth glass top of the building wondering how to enter and find Jasper.

“What do we do from here?” asked Jacaranda.

“It is infernally cold and starting to snow,” said Gorge, his teeth beginning to chatter. “We need to get indoors.”

“The problem is I am scared to use telepathy and cannot get in touch with Jasper, our counterpart,” said Jasmine.

“We could go in invisibly. I have packed a set of invisibility pills, which can make us disappear for half an hour at a stretch,” said Jacaranda.

 

The Creators

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As the day started to dawn, the hollow of the gnarled tree burst into flames of pale blue and silver. Out of it, emerged a swirling ball of mauve and magenta, which grew into an adult-sized Jacaranda. Jacaranda had arrived a little earlier than scheduled with a tiny string bag that held her belongings.

Jasmine, Jolyn and Gorge were breakfasting. Jolyn was in a better shape than before. She looked a bit sad but resigned. Gorge had convinced her that he was going as her knight to win a battle for her. When they finished the meal and stepped out, they saw Jacaranda and the dragon in conversation.

“Here come the seekers,” said the dragon.

“Hi!” said Jacaranda. The three of them murmured their greetings. Jasmine had on her knapsack and Gorge had been given a small backpack with snacks and some clothing by the dragon.

The dragon saw Jolyn looking sad. “Ah! My dear. Do not be sad. We really need you here. I need you to look after everybody in the house. You all also need to learn to use your telepathic skills while the adventurers are gone. We will form a telepathic communication club to practise our skills.”

Then tuning to Jasmine, Jacaranda and Gorge, he said, “Now, all you need is to ride the dragon cloud I will make for you. Jacaranda knows how to navigate the cloud through the skies. Incase, Dr Doom’s men do spot you, they can do nothing as the dragon cloud is impervious to spells, laser and bullets. The only thing that can pierce or destroy it is dragon fire.”

Saying this, the dragon raised his neck to the skies and gave three loud roars. Then he blew out fire three times and mumbled a spell…A golden dragon shaped cloud appeared in the sky and started floating down to the lawn. It stopped hovering just above the grass.

“Come get in, the three of you,” said the dragon.

Jacaranda climbed in. Jasmine went in a little warily as did Gorge. Jolyn stepped forward and kissed Gorge goodbye.

The cloud felt like a cold metal surface and gleamed as if with the rays of the rising sun. The dragon swayed his tail and turned around and whispered some soft words of incantation and the cloud started rising. The three of them looked down and waved. Jacaranda lay down on the neck of the cloud and it rose higher and higher. The other two watched amazed as the figures on the lawn receded and became tiny. The roof of the mountain seemed to have been replaced by the skies above the dragon lair.

As they floated out into the open, the sky was red-gold with the colors of the rising sun. The cloud almost looked like a part of the sunrise. However, a gunshot whizzed past their cloud as Dr Doom’s gang and the mind police on watch had spotted them. They had been on the look out for the group as Dr Doom and the counsellors were convinced that Jasmine and her multiverse selves were alive and well, even if their location remained unknown. If they had been dead, the counsellors would have sensed a disturbance in the universal consciousness. They insisted the guards stay alert. The guards were forever on a lookout. They worked in shifts. The mind police and Dr Doom’s men worked jointly. Dr Doom’s soldiers were smart enough to see the dragon cloud. And the mind police on Jasmine’s track could sense her thought waves and anxiety as they came into the open. Gorge’s anxiety too guided them to unearth the concealment. Jacaranda quickly stood up, mumbled some incantation and the dragon cloud encapsulated the three of them. A draft of wind seemed to blow them higher and further. The mind police hopped onto another cloud and started to follow them.

“Will the two of you stop being anxious? Learn to trust. Otherwise you will give us away. I know the cloud can turn invisible if we can all focus together. That way we can get rid of the mind police,” said Jacaranda.

“More easily said than done,” said Jasmine. “But we need to be bold and fearless. Gorge, breathe deeply with me and say Ommm from the pit of your stomach, like me. Repeat a few times. That always helps reduce stress and builds up the positive energy in us.”

“Would it not be easier to battle it out with them?” queried Gorge.

“They have tranquillizing guns which, if they can access us, will immediately put us to sleep. So, we should not think of a confrontation,”  Jasmine responded.

“Better listen to her. She knows them better than us,” said Jasmine.

“Okay,” said Gorge a trifle disconsolately.

Jasmine and Gorge started on their Ommms. Behind them, the mind police was shooting out laser rays to dissolve the cloud. It was difficult to be calm but Jasmine and Gorge continued in their effort. Slowly, they experienced a sense of calm. Then Jasmine, Jacaranda and Gorge held hands and focused on air…like they were a part of the breeze. They felt themselves sway…like a whiff of air. The cloud slowly faded out of vision even as the lasers hit the cloud. It floated on invisibly till the mind police started losing not just the cloud but also the thought waves emanating from the three of them. The mind police hunted for them for sometime and then went back to magicland as they had lost them. Eventually, focusing on the thought waves bore no results as the combined strength of their minds build a barrier against the police. Jasmine was excellent at concealing ideas and thought. They could not identify the thought waves of Gorge and Jacaranda clearly. They were forced to give up.

As the mind police faded out of sight, Jacaranda asked Jasmine, “So where to?”

Jasmine said, “Let us land on a safe dimension and then, I can pinge us into the technological dimension.”

“Safe, now what would be safe?” wondered Jacaranda.

“Perhaps we can land on that distant island,” said Jasmine, peering out of the cloud.

Jacaranda looked beyond and said, “That is the isle of wonder. A good place for us.”

“What is the isle of wonder?” asked Gorge.

“The isle of wonder is where gods, mythological heroes, dead souls who had great contributions come together over ages. It is an interesting place to visit. Their world is utopian. It’s lovely out there. We have to have special permission to access it. The only people who can visit freely are performers, artists, teachers and scientists. As I am a dance teacher, my accompanying guests and I are allowed entry against my pass. We can’t stay too long as the security coordinates visitors with the mainland security staff every week. So, we can only have a few days here,” said Jacaranda.

“We don’t need that much!” said Jasmine.

“It is a fantastic place. If we can evade the security by landing invisibly on a beach away from the security, we should be safe and we will have no record,”said Jacaranda. “I just love visiting the island.”

“Another time please,” said Jasmine. “If you can manage us an uncharted entry, it would be fantastic.”

“We could try the beach on the eastern side or the hill where Garuda, Daedalus and Icarus live. Daedalus is studying Garuda’s wings to learn the principles of making a pair of perfect wings.”

“Who are these people?” asked Gorge.

“Oh! These are all mythological creatures from Jacinth’s dimension. These myths do not exist in your dimension, is it?” asked Jasmine.

“No,” said Gorge. “Our myths are all to do with Gods of nature.”

“Interesting!” said Jacaranda. “We have creatures from myths of all dimensions here.”

“Garuda, Daedalus and Icarus are mythical creatures who could fly or aspired to fly high,” said Jasmine. “We study myths and history of all dimensions in the creator’s world. But others do not have that privilege.”

“We live it in the magic dimension,” said Jacaranda.

“I want something like this with living and real creatures,” said Jasmine. “And that is what everyone is upset about! And that is why the mind police are chasing us and threatening us!”

“I think I can fly us over the beach and land at the edge of the forest in the east. That should keep us away from the security’s vision,” said Jacaranda.

“And then, as soon as we are out of the dragon cloud, we will pinge into the technological dimension,” said Jasmine.

Gorge was watching the drama quietly. They started descending slowly and softly landed on a grassy patch.

“As we step out of the cloud, we will become visible and the cloud will disappear,” said Jacaranda.

“Wait, let me take out our pinging tongs,” said Jasmine. She dug into her knapsack and took out the tongs.

The three of them stepped out of the cloud into a grassy patch, held hands together as Jasmine clapped her tongs. They felt themselves squeezed and hurled. A rush of cold air and bright lights whizzed past till they landed unceremoniously on a cool, glassy surface.

 

 

The impossible

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Making Utopia

It is time to ride a rainbow, to swim through the sky,
To surf the clouds till one feels oneself fly….
Over the towns and over the meadows
Zooming in and out of golden shadows.
Now on a skateboard, I slide
Into a golden sunrise,
Speeding, fast, flying, flying
Till I lose the self in trying.
The effort hurts every bone.
I feel myself soar
Beyond the life force.
I see two enormous doors
Open to a plethora of bright lights
Dancing, singing, creating flights
Of fanciful delights….
I have arrived in the land
Where every grain of sand
And every drop of the sea
Stretch to create a new reality
That reaches out to you and me
And takes us beyond impossibility,
Making the unreal,real
This is the dream, the ideal.

Leaving China

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Chapter 10

My utopia is a world where Khayyam and Tagore would walk together, crossing the barriers of time, space and age…

It would be an island in the bright blue ocean with lush green vegetation where birds and plants would proliferate. Arthur C Clarke and Asimov would be discussing the future of mankind with Aldous Huxley and George Orwell. Perhaps, someday Marco Polo would dock on it in a ship with Kublai’s crew… And I would sit there with my I pad and invisibly watch and record all the action! It would be a bit like Asimov’s Gaia, except the collective mind would draw borders at telepathic communication. The weather would be eternal spring and it would be sunshine forever. We would all be in touch with the most positive in our mindset.

A dash of Nikolai Tessla playing with his lightening rods and Shakespeare directing his plays in a natural theatrette, made with a circular chain of low lying hills…the sky would be bright blue with white clouds…and maybe, sometimes, Mozart and Beethoven would create music by the seaside with instruments that never got wet or spoilt. Indian maestros like Mallikarjun Mansur would match the sound of the waves in open air concerts and Bhimsen Joshi would sing Meghmallar to bring on a sprinkle of rain. Occasionally, the Beatles would go crazy with their guitaring. And Jean Pierre Rampal would create and play a Jazz piece called Utopia!

I know it all sounds insane but I had the opportunity in China to get more in touch with all these things. What was fantastic was I had friends who could relate to these things and not get peeved by talk of my Utopia. I was amazed that people did not find my ideas or tastes boring and traditional. Some of my expat friends spoke of greats from their culture and I learnt more. There was a feeling of give and take. Local Chinese appreciated the fact that I wrote. A local friend told me that it was good I wrote my book on China. They wanted to translate it. But, I had a flight to catch…back to Singapore.

We had a two week wait in a hotel before we boarded our flight out of China. The new ruling had it that we needed to be within the country when they checked on the things we were taking back home with us. The rulings in China can change anytime and you need to comply to them and move on. My utopian ideal was one thing but it was really tough living out of suitcases for two weeks, even though it was in a five star hotel. But, there were people who seemed to like it. One day we met an American who lived in the hotel permanently. He and his visiting teenage son were returning to their room when he paused to remark on Surya’s antics as my younger son was singing something crazy and doing weird walks along the corridor in a bid to dispense his extra energy. It was hazy outside and we could not do our usual walk for the high PSI levels.

At home, Surya would have read, played a game or watched a movie. In the hotel, Aditya had a different room. We didnot allow the kids to rent movies. And he had to create his own entertainment. So, he did…except we had an amused audience of the American and his son… To me it was really strange that a person, even if he were living alone, would choose to stay in a hotel on a daily basis. It would be so restrictive. You could never cook yourself a gastronomic delight from your heart! You could never do up your room with your choice of colours and paintings. You could never argue in loud voices with your family. You could never invite your friends over for a meal cooked by you. You could never try out a new musical instrument in the later hours of the evening. But your laundry would be done without an effort and you would never need to shop for groceries!

Trying out a musical instrument in an apartment is difficult too…coming to think of it. I remember, in China, a friend’s husband practiced his guitaring in their pent house apartment every night. The neighbours downstairs found it unacceptable and complained regularly. We were luckier in China. When Aditya practiced his french horn, our Finnish neighbour upstairs was really delighted. He wanted to know if Aditya could play the Finnish National Anthem on the french horn. We have never had issues with boys practising the piano, guitar, recorder or clarinet at home but we had issues with Surya jumping in his bedroom at 10 pm in Singapore to get the pool water out of his ear. I had an irritated teenage neighbour who lived downstairs standing outside my door and shouting. I had to call in the security to calm her and her parents and escort them downstairs. Quite an experience for us!

In China, locals could inconvenience us by abstaining from presenting themselves in time or completing the assigned work in time but we had always found them very courteous in their behaviour towards foreigners. So, the shouting really came as a shock to us in Singapore. The feeling I get here often is that people are disatisfied and unhappy. In China, the feeling was of an upsurge of happiness and hope which is why it was easier for me to visualise my utopia while I was there.

While we waited at the hotel to leave China, we caught up on some more sightseeing within Suzhou. There was this ancient temple called Ling Yan temple in the water town of Mudu. I and my sons had been to it once during a summer we spent in Suzhou in 2009, I think. My husband was working. The view from the hilltop was fantastic. I still remember a monk who helped us find our way to the temple on top of a steep hill and disappeared mysteriously. He was very excited when he saw us and insisted on calling us mother and the little buddha from India. I do not know which one of my sons he was alluding to but I am guessing, it was Surya as he was obviously the little one!

imageWhen we went back the second time with my husband, we discovered the temple had a lovely garden at the foothill with peacocks strutting, and occassionally dancing, around. There were  some ancient Indian artefacts too in the temple. It was evidently founded by an abbot called ‘the light of India’. We were not clear about the Indian connection but there was something there. After savouring the views and exploring the temple as we walked back to the car, we came across various vendors, including a palmist, who insisted on telling my future. He wanted his palm crossed by a red note…100 rmb… We were forced to give in. A crowd collected as he foretold a glorious future for me. He said I would be very happy when I turn sixty! Now, at the threshold of fifty, I am desperately waiting to reach sixty so that I can see what are the fantastic things life holds out for me…will I become a princess with silver blonde locks, will I become a popular author, will my husband and I win a lottery and go on a world tour or, most excitingly, will I become a grandmother and have the opportunity at last of spoiling babies rotten…

With such happy thoughts, I bid adieu to China. As the flight took off from Shanghai, I had my last glimpse of the city of fabulous night lights and futuristic buildings and looked forward to a new adventure in Singapore, the city of the Merlion.

The Birth of a Nation

Independence Day?

The birth of a nation.
Cause for elation?
Or the reason for a dirge?
Another boundary sworn.
Happy memories gone.
Families torn.
Gore, bloodshed.
Swords drawn.
Enemies shot.
Lives shorn.
People adrift.
Rootless, anchorless,
Boats without mooring.
Branches torn,
Life shredded with violence.
Hatred, intolerance,
Race, religion, creed,
More reasons that fill our heart
With thoughts that draw us apart.
Is this our dream, our celebration?

Dream

A sense of elation,
A feeling of exhilaration
Envelopes my being as I leap
From cloud to cloud
Holding onto your hand.
I feel the cool mistiness
Encompass our bodies
Binding us closer than
A body and a soul.
I feel your being permeate my own.
Then as you and I cease to exist,
I find a new Me.
As we come to rest on land.
I look about and see
Green hills around the turquoise sea.
At the start, white beaches of sand
Meet the lush green foliage.
There, I find Tagore and Khayyam
Walk together among grape vines.
There, I see the Olympians rise
And Indra greet them with a smile.
On a distant hill, Garuda flies
And Icarus learns the techniques of flight.
This is a land without limits.
A land for dreamers.
For you and me,
For minds that stretch out to meet,
A land where sands of time drift away,
A land where Titian’s golden sunsets can be seen.
This is where dreams turn to reality,
Where unicorns jump on rainbow springs,
Where whispers turn to rustling leaves,
Where lady bugs are found in purple and gold,
And exotic flowers bloom untold,
Where every child’s dream has its roots,
From where come the shoots
Of all that is…….
The start of
All creation and of Being.

Short story

The Visitor

The debris of the FS 918 had been washed up the coast of Australia after fifteen months, thus confirming the plane had crashed on that fateful night of July 15th and there had been no survivors. They had found bits of the plane, and even baggage but no human remains. The plane had been flying from Singapore to Tokyo. It was a budget airliner. Suddenly, it lost contact with the ground crew and then disappeared. The airline office had been hounded by bereaved relatives and friends of the 230 passengers and crew. They could give no definite answers as no trace of the plane could be found.

Amar had lost his pretty young Japanese wife, Miko, in the crash. They had been married for only six months. Miko had been flying to visit her family. She was only twenty-six. Miko’s mother died of shock. She, a heart patient, could not bear the news of her daughter missing and had a massive heart attack and died. Her father and siblings were very sad. For them, it was a double loss.

Amar had become a sad widower. He had loved Miko with his heart and soul. After the wreck had been found and it was confirmed that no passenger or crew member were to be found, he did not want to continue in Singapore. Everything reminded him of Miko. He went back to India, found a new job and his family encouraged him to find a new life and a new wife.

After six years of loneliness, Amar tied the knot for a second time with Gita. She was the daughter of a family friend and had known Amar from childhood, long before he met Miko. They lived in New Delhi, where Amar worked in a multi-national. They were not unhappy and had a little boy.

Ten years had passed. One day their son, Shammi, came home and told Gita, “ Mamma, I found some bright lights towards Qutub Minar. It was like a beam from a flying saucer.”

“ You read too many comics,” said Gita to her eight-year-old.

“ No mamma, I am sure there was something shimmering in the sky. The light was too strong and it was impossible to see things clearly against the orange and golden sky of the setting sun.’’

Gita dismissed him. “ Enough of all this. Finish your homework now before your baba gets home.”

That night they all had dinner. Shammi was in bed by 9pm with the lights switched off. Around an hour later, the front doorbell rang. Thankfully, Shammi didnot wake up.

Amar rushed to the door, saying, “ I will get it. Who can it be at this hour?”

Gita followed behind. She was worried.

Amar opened the door and stood frozen. He could not believe his eyes! Seeing his stance, Gita went forward and saw a diminutive woman wearing a frock staring at Amar. Initially, she was a bit nonplussed. Then she screamed, “ Oh! My God!” For she recognized the woman from pictures Amar had shown her…Miko.

“ Who are you?” Gita shouted out. “ Oh my god!”

Amar swallowed.

“ I am Miko,” said the woman

Amar had recovered by now. “ You went down in the crash. I can’t believe it!”

Miko said, “ Please do not panic. I am just here for a visit. If you let me come in, I can explain everything.”

“ How do we believe you are Miko?” said Gita. “ She is supposed to be dead in the plane crash.”

“ Amar when you saw me off you said I was your life and must return to you safe and sound. Do you remember that? You would not let go of my hand. I had to shake you off and make a run for it. No one but I would know what you said to me as we were standing away from the crowds,” said Miko. “ Now, do you believe me?”

Gita looked at Amar. And he nodded.

“ Come in,” said Gita.

Miko came in. Amar noticed she looked just as did when she left for Tokyo and she was wearing the same dress. He swallowed again. He felt awkward! Was he a felon? He had two wives before him. What would he do? And there was Shammi, his heartthrob.

Miko started, “ Amar, I came to you to make sure you are all right before I plunge back into my new life.”

Amar and Gita looked puzzled. Amar said, “ I am very confused. Can you start at the beginning? How did you survive the crash?”

Miko sighed. “ It is a long story. There was no crash. We were teleported to Europa, the watery moon of Jupiter, by inhabitants of Xana 15, which you refer to as Kepler 186f on Earth…”

“ What?! You were abducted by extra-terrestrials…” began Amar.

“ Hold on. Hear me out,” said Miko. “ I have only a short while to tell the tale. Tomorrow before the crack of dawn, I must be back at Europa, where I will need to board the warpcraft, their high speed rocket, back to Xana. I have only a fortnight of leave and it takes a whole week to travel across. So, please hear me out.”

“ The FS 918 was teleported to the Xanelian space station under the oceans of Europa. It happened in a flash. Their technology is so advanced that they could shut down the plane and open the doors of the aircraft without communicating with any of us. Then one of them entered. They look pretty much like us except they are taller and have almost pale white skin, the color of paper.”

“ We were all panicking and screaming. The Xanelian just sprayed a can of something. And before we knew, we all passed out.”

“ Next, I woke up on Xana15. By this time, their translator had picked up English, Japanese and a number of other languages that the passengers spoke. They had studied our brainwaves to figure out the best way to communicate with us. Then the data had been fed into their translators so that they could communicate with us with ease. Initially, they looked like ghosts in clothes because of their skin color.”

Amar who could hold himself no longer said, “ You do not need to go back to them. We will work…”

“ But, I want to go back,” said Miko. “ Listen to me please.”

Amar and Gita looked aghast.

Miko continued, “ Initially, I was terrified as were the others. They were very clever about awakening us. Each group of scientists had a four or five humans to study. In all, there were fifty groups of scientists. They woke us up one by one. When I woke up, I felt a tremendous sense of well being, like I was waking up from a long restful sleep. But, when I saw one of them, I was terrified. Before I could scream, they telepathically conveyed, ‘We only want peace and well-being of all creatures great and small. Please bear with us. If you want to get back, we will take you to your home planet again. But, please bear with us. We have brought you here with the full intention of helping mankind.’ That was really calming. I was amazed. I had many questions and they were willing to listen. I told them I wanted to get back to you and my mother was sick. They knew and they were compassionate.”

“The shock of your disappearance killed your mother. Do you know that?” said Amar

“I know. They broke it to me later. They were very gentle and kind.”

“How can you justify their action? It caused the death of your mother and lot of pain to all of us. You have really changed,” said Amar.

“ That I have,” said Miko. “ To continue with my story…the Xanelians treated us well. They told us that they were the peacekeepers of many galaxies. Lot of the planets with evolved societies and advanced technologies were amazed at the way in which Earthlings, for that is how they address all creatures from Earth, were bent on destroying themselves. They were also afraid that if we continued with our destructive mode of existence, the rest of the galaxies would be affected. Our whole attitude to anything new or unfamiliar is one of fear and animosity. We have lost touch with the wonders of the universe, instead we spend time blowing each other up with weaponry that could damage the equilibrium of the universe. Also, we are bent on polluting the galaxy with our wasteful, consumerist technologies. Nuclear energy is a clean energy but we use it to self-destruct. We do not look for balance. They are saying that unless we rethink and reinvent our ways, we will bring unmitigated disaster to the whole universe in the course of the future.”

“ They are studying the passengers on the plane to arrive at a solution for all of us. We are giving them input to help improve our own future. Not one of us has returned permanently. About twenty of us have come back to meet with our families or friends and we all return tomorrow. We love our life there. I am part of the team that will find a new way of life on Earth that would be beneficial to all. We are working all together, not just the Xanelians and Earthlings but all other intelligent life forms in outer space.”

“ You mean there are variety of aliens,” said Amar, “ and you are working with them?

“ Yes,” said Miko, “ and enjoying it too.”

“ You want to continue with them rather than here?” said Gita, in an incredulous tone.

“ Yes,” said Miko. “ I love the life there. It is peaceful. There is no violence, no hatred. There are no guns, weapons of mass destruction, police or army. Everyone has a say. We are not more than a thousand five hundred inhabitants. Out of that one thousand are Xanelians, two hundred and fifty are Earthlings and the other two hundred and fifty are from various other planets. We all live and work in harmony.”

“ You mean there are only one thousand Xanelians on the planet?”

“ No. There are many more. I am talking of our facility. Xana has no police or army. They have no weapons. They have no nations. They use their technology and knowledge to benefit all creatures, great and small. The total population is one billion. The people are peace loving and kind. They mostly die of old age and communicate telepathically. The children are taught till the age of twenty and then they mature and marry at about thirty. Some go on for higher studies and some become scientists. The cleaning and menial jobs are done by Xanelians too. They regard all labor as dignified. They live up to two hundred years on an average.”

“ It is a Utopian world and they have made it happen,” concluded Miko.

“ Can you breathe normally there?” asked Gita

“ Yes. The atmosphere is like that of Earth. It looks and feels like Earth, even has four seasons! That is what makes it a perfect place to reinvent our society,” said Miko.

“ The Xanelians informed me about my mother and that you remarried as I had voiced my concerns to them,” said Miko.

“ How do they find out?” said Amar.

“ Xanelians sometimes visit Earth to collect data. They can disguise themselves as humans by drinking Earth juice. In fact they have invented a range of drinks that help them to become like inhabitants of different planets for a given time. As long as they have enough supply of the drink, they can keep living on the planet like one of the local inhabitants.”

“ One of them tracked you and visited you, disguised as a human.”

“ Who?” asked Amar.

“ Does it matter?” said Miko. “ I came down this time to reassure you that I am fine and happy. I knew you were very sad about me. I know that you can never feel whole till you know I am happy. I came for my peace of mind. You have a lovely wife and son. Enjoy them.”

A watch-like gadget on Miko’s wrist had started beeping. She looked at it and said, “ I need to go now. They are going to start back from Europa at the crack of dawn. Goodbye. God bless.”

And she walked out of the front door.