Thursday, 14 April 2016
‘In almost every religion on earth, the discussions on afterlife realms are majorly focused on Heaven and Hell. But I am particularly fantasized about The Limbo’, said Vishwas Narayan, a famous philosopher and theologian. He was invited for a guest lecture in a college of Theology in Delhi University.
The auditorium was packed with the professors and students while Vishwas was standing at the center of the stage. He was wearing a black bandhgala suit with a lustrous red pocket square. He was in his late fifties and his hair had gone grey. The wrinkles below his eyes were partially concealed by the thick spectacles he was wearing. ‘The term Limbo has been derived from a Latin word Limbus, which means, Edge or border. In the Catholic Theology, it is considered as a place which is at the edge of the hell’.
Vishwas glanced at the first row of the auditorium where his wife Maria D'Souza was sitting, alone. Vishwas was expecting his son Peter Narayan also to attend his lecture. But he didn’t come. Peter was a scientist in ISRO. He was an atheist and had absolutely no regard for religion. To him, religion was the major reason for the global terror. And he was correct to an extent. Vishwas knew Peter had no interest in theology and philosophy, but as a father, he wanted his son to be there. There was a hint of disappointment appeared on Vishwas’s face when he saw his wife alone. Maria too noticed that Vishwas had seen her alone and was disappointed. She smiled to comfort Vishwas a bit. Vishwas quickly shrugged off his sadness and continued. ‘The term "Limbo" is actually not mentioned in the Bible explicitly. This term was given by the European theologians of the medieval age, which is the period in between 5th to 15th century AD. The Bible mentions a place where the souls of those who had died before Jesus Christ had been detained. That place was neither Heaven nor Hell. The medieval theologians and artists named this place as "Limbo of the Fathers”’. Vishwas scanned the audience and found some students yawning while some looking at their mobile phones.
‘Okay. A bit boring right? Now let's move to Hollywood. Everyone must have watched the famous "Matrix Trilogy". In the final installment of the series, there was a train station named Mobil Ave. It was a place that lied between the Matrix and the real world. Much like a Limbo! If you look at the word Mobil carefully, you would realize that it is an anagram of nothing but Limbo!’. The audience now began to show interest.
‘Similarly in Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster "Inception", Limbo was a deep subconscious level where the human mind gets trapped forever!’
Upon gaining everyone’s attention back, Vishwas steered his speech back to his area. 'Similarly, the Limbo is described as a place where the souls of the dead were trapped. The teachings of Catholic Theology say that “The crucified one sojourned in the realm of the dead prior to his resurrection. But he descended there as Saviour, proclaiming the Good News to the spirits imprisoned there”. This means, after the Crucifixion of Jesus, his soul descended to Limbo from where he freed the souls imprisoned there and the souls finally entered the heaven. The Concept of Limbo is not limited only to Christianity. In Greek mythology, there is a realm where souls were trapped who had neither achieved Heaven nor damned to Hell. Similar resemblances are there in Islam and Zoroastrianism as well’.
Vishwas’s speech ended which was then followed by Q&A. Until the last minute of the event, Vishwas was expecting to see his son. But sometimes expectations only bring disappoint.
Peter was sitting in his study room in front of a 40 inch LED screen. He was on a video call with his superiors who were sitting on a different part of India. He was explaining them the current status of his latest project on which a huge amount of investment was done. Today, his investor had also joined the meeting for the first time.
Peter said, ‘Parallel universe, as you know, has been a curious topic among the scientists but has been least talked about’.
Vishwas and Maria reached home and saw Peter's study closed. But they could listen to his loud voice. They understood that he was in a video conference. Peter used to spend most of his time in his lab. Whenever he was in home; he was mostly occupied by these video calls. Vishwas and Maria by now had become used to their son's busy lifestyle.
‘That’s the reason he hasn’t come’, said Vishwas.
Maria put her hand on his husband’s shoulder as a gesture to comfort him. They started their dinner as they knew Peter was not going to join them soon. Peter's voice was quite easily audible to them.
‘Parallel universes are not just any other universe comprising of galaxies and planets. They are born out of the existing universe. Many scientists and physicists have different theories. But my experiments are based on a particular theory’.
The people on the screen leaned forward to understand Peter.
Peter continued. ‘Let me explain you how these Parallel Universes are born. Ten years ago, my parents told me to prepare for medical exam but I chose to study engineering. Now, the moment I chose to study engineering, a parallel universe would have been created in which another self of me would have chosen medical and today he would be a successful Doctor in that universe. Similarly, at every point of life, there are two outcomes of a situation. What outcome will exist depends upon what decision we make. What we experience is what option we chose, but there are other universes which would have born out of our universe, where the other outcomes also exist. Imagine a world where Dinosaurs are still walking on earth. Imagine a world where Hitler had become the ruler of the world’.
Peter smiled seeing the disbelief in the eyes of his investor. 'Sounds too fictional? But it won’t be a fiction anymore. The machine on which you have invested is capable of creating an Einstein-Rosen bridge, or simply a wormhole, which will connect our universe to a parallel universe. And I am going to present it to you within a matter of two days’.
The discussion ended after half an hour. Peter came out of his study and saw his parents were waiting for him after finishing the dinner.
Seeing Peter, Vishwas said, ‘Mr. Parallel universe, take out some time for your poor dad too’.
Peter, texting someone on the mobile, said, ‘Dad you know very well how busy I am running now a days. Moreover, for a long time we have had dinner together’.
Maria said, ‘Your dad is not talking about having dinner together. You didn't come to his event’.
Peter shifted his eyes from mobile to Maria and said, ‘Mom, you know I have no interest in anything related to religion or philosophy’.
‘It was about your dad. You could have come at least for your dad’, said Maria.
Vishwas waved his hands towards Maria indicating her not to prolong the argument.
‘I am more interested in discovering new lives in Parallel universe rather than listening to the inconsequential discussions on the realms of the dead- The Limbo’, said Peter sarcastically. He put the mobile phone back in his trouser pocket and grabbed his coat which was hanging on a chair. ‘I am going to the lab, will get late. Don't wait for me’. Peter hurried out of the house. Vishwas’s eyes followed him till he went out.
Maria sighed and was about to speak when Vishwas said, ‘I am Okay Maria. I understand he is a very busy. He has a humongous task to accomplish’.
Maria knew Vishwas was not trying to convince her. He was trying to convince himself.
After an hour, Peter reached the Delhi Underground Research Facility. It was a research laboratory constructed about 1500 meters below the ground level. The lab had been made recently at the Aravalli hill range of the southernmost edge of Delhi. The obsolete mines of this area were used to construct the facility. Peter reached in front of the huge iron gate of the facility. He scanned his identity card at the gate. The system opened the gate upon successful identification. Peter then took the elevator which too him to the underground facility. He rushed out of the elevator and entered the section of the lab where his assistant Manoj was waiting for him.
‘Everything ready?’, asked Peter, as he removed his coat.
‘As soon as you texted me sir’, replied Manoj.
Peter glanced at a circular compartment within the lab. There was a single wide glass window which offered inner view of the lab. Peter could see the equipment kept inside. It took him five years to construct that equipment.
‘Why do you want to test the machine at this time sir? You could have done it tomorrow morning’, asked Manoj.
Peter adjusted a few controls on the panel beside him and said, ‘This equipment is not completely risk free. I don’t want to expose everyone here to a potential risk’.
Manoj stared at Peter questioningly.
Peter smiled, ‘Well Manoj, you were with me in this project right from the starting. That’s why I had called you. If you feel it is not safe for you to stay, you may leave’.
‘That’s not the case sir. I will stay here with you. I was just wondering how much you care for everyone else’.
Peter smiled and walked inside the circular chamber. The circular chamber had just one door to enter. It was a hydraulic door operated from the same panel. Inside the chamber, two capsule-shaped machines were fixed on the floor, ten meters apart from each other. Each machine had metallic claws fixed at the top. Peter stood in between the two machines.
‘Can you hear me Manoj?’, asked Peter.
‘Loud and clear’, Manoj's voice came out of a speaker.
‘Cool. Let’s start then. Switch on the machine’.
Manoj pushed a green button on the control panel. Beside the button was a silver coloured knob. On the surface of the panel, markings were made along with the circumference of the knob. On the left end of the marking was written “Min” while on the right side where the markings ended, “Max” was written. Manoj rotated the knob slowly. As Manoj rotated the knob, the claws fixed on the machines began to rotate.
‘No hurry Manoj. Increase the RPM gradually. The smoothly the RPM increases, the more the chances of opening of the wormhole’, instructed Peter.
The knob had now reached mid-way. The claws were now rotating rapidly. Peter noticed tiny sparks began to generate at the center of the claws. The machines were roaring loudly. ‘The sparking has begun Manoj’. Peter had to shout to make his voice audible to Manoj.
‘Shall I increase the RPM?’, asked Manoj.
As Manoj continued to turn the knob towards “Max”, the sparks on both the claws grew bigger. The entire chamber was ablaze with the flashes of sparks. After a moment, Manoj couldn’t see anything. But he could clearly hear the daunting sound of machines.
‘Sir I sense some danger here. Shall we continue?’, shouted Manoj.
Peter heard Manoj’s voice but his mind was occupied by what he was seeing inside the chamber. He was staring at the sparks on both sides which were growing huge. His heart was beating fiercely with both excitement and fear. He noticed that the machines had begun to vibrate. Soon, the machines were shaking terribly. He realized that the machines could any time go out of control. There could be a serious explosion as well. The fear was now overpowering Peter’s excitement. He thought to stop the machine. But if he would, the experiment would be a failure. He had to wait for the wormhole to open; if at all his machine was capable of opening one. He had spent years in making this machine. His superiors had shown immense trust in him. His investor had flown a lot of money in to this project.
Peter shouted back, ‘We have to Manoj! Stopping at this stage means a failure’.
Though Peter instructed Manoj to continue, he could also see the danger lying ahead. The machines were trembling ferociously. The machines were threatening to get uprooted from the floor at any moment. The explosion seemed inevitable. It could surely take his life. He was vacillating between the two decisions: whether to stop the experiment or continue ahead. He knew from the beginning that this experiment had a risk involved in it. The outcome of this experiment was revolutionary which could not be actualized without taking risk. But again what would happen if the experiment doesn’t succeed. He would lose his life. A shiver ran down his spine when he imagined about his death. How his family cope up with his death? How his mother going to deal with that situation? He couldn't bring this pain and agony to his family. He finally made the decision.
He screamed, ‘Manoj. Shut down the machine!’
Peter’s voice, along with the vibrations of machine, reached up to Manoj through the speakers. He immediately turned the knob to “Min” and pushed the RED button to stop the machine. He waited for the machine to slow down. Much to his surprise, it did not. Manoj pushed the kill button again but the machine did not stop. The machines were still roaring intimidatingly. He began to smack the button repeatedly. But the machine did not stop. He then tried to open the hydraulic door of the circular chamber so that Peter could come out of it. But the button which controlled the door was also not working. Suddenly, an explosion occurred inside the chamber, disintegrating the glass window in to pieces. He ducked to save himself from the darting glass pieces.
After everything calmed down, Manoj got up. The lab was filled with the white smoke. Through the smoke he walked towards the broken glass window. He could see the broken machines. He jumped through the wide window and entered the chamber. The two capsules were lying on the ground, half broken. The claws were also scattered at a distance. He Prayed to God for Peter’s safety. But he was astonished to find that there was no Peter inside the chamber.
Peter opened his eyes gradually. It was dark and Smokey. He was lying against a wall. His body was paining awfully. He understood that the explosion might have thrown him away and he would have banged on the wall. He observed the surroundings. He was in the same circular chamber. He noticed the broken capsules and claws were lying on the ground. He then found a body lying on the floor but he could not able to see its face, as the body was facing down. He was frightened to see the body. There was no one else in the chamber. Only Manoj was present at this time but that too outside the chamber.
Had he came inside during the explosion?, thought Peter, as he walked towards the body worriedly. He turned the body to see its face. As he saw the face, his heartbeats shot up by multiple folds. He stepped back instantly with horror. His legs were quivering. As he moved two steps backward, he fell on the ground. The dead body was him!
Oh God! What is this? How is it possible?
He ran up to the hydraulic door but it was closed. He then saw the wide glass window was broken. He jumped out of the window and saw there was no one in the lab.
‘MANOJ!’, Peter called Manoj. But there was no response. He called Manoj repeatedly. But he was a alone there.
It was dark outside. He could barely see anything. He ran towards the exit door. There was no Exit door! The lab was enclosed from all side with walls.
What is this place?, thought Peter, Panting.
Suddenly he remembered his father’s words. His father was once discussing with a professor when he was preparing for his speech on Limbo: "The crucified one sojourned in the realm of the dead prior to his resurrection".
Peter’s eyes widened as he remembered his father’s words. He turned to see his dead corpse lying inside the chamber.
Am I in the realm of the dead? Am I in the Limbo?
TO BE CONTINUED....