“Congratulations, human. You have passed all our tests with flying colors. We will now leave the human race in peace and depart to our dimension. In appreciation of all your feats, we also want to give you a special gift.”
Of course they did not say so in as many words. But this is how Harvi’s mind interpreted their telepathic communication.
Harvi’s heart was racing. What were they going to give him? He hoped they would give him lot of wealth so that he need not study or work the rest of his life. Or maybe some cool device that would make him popular with his peers. Or still better they would make him super brilliant like that alien in that Hrithik Roshan movie.
The aliens continued,” We are going to give you the most precious substance in the universe: time.” A curse escaped Harvi’s mind. What the hell! And what did they mean when they said they were going to give him time? Maybe a time travel machine? That sounded cool.
Suddenly the castle descended and strong winds began to blow. Harvi’s consciousness began to fade and soon he went blank. The next thing he heard was loud banging at his door. His friends were knocking his door to wake him up to get ready for the exam. He was back to the same day when he had made contact with the aliens.Is that what the aliens meant by giving him time? Had they given him back all the time he had spent on the quests and taken him back to the time before the quests?
He did not have time for all these contemplations as he had only 15 minutes to brush his teeth, take bath and change into something more decent than the faded t-shirt and jaded shorts. The exam was a tough one as usual. All the old frustrations were returning! There was another exam the next day. He was getting back to the old rut. He had not come back to a rousing hero’s welcome. It seemed as if nothing had happened: no aliens, no adventures, no saving the world. He wanted to sing out aloud. But his heavy heart seemed to drag down the songs like a heavy weight and they never reached his lips.
All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places, worn out faces,
Bright and early for the daily races
Going nowhere, going nowhere
He was back with all the same old guys, the first year guys busy with their assignments and quizzes, the second year students busy preparing for interviews, everyone competing with each other for the grades and jobs. If earlier, he did not relate with his batch mates, now he found them all positively repulsive. He was badly missing his adventuring days. With every passing day, it all seemed like a distant dream. At times, he wondered if it all had really been only a dream after all. But the void in his heart felt so real and the sadness just lingered on like a bad smell.
Their tears are filling up their glasses
No Expression, no expression
Hide my head I wanna drown my sorrow
No tomorrow, no tomorrow
He had kind of completely lost interest in life. The aliens had called time a gift. That is assuming the aliens had been real and not just a figment of his imagination. But time seemed like a curse here. It just would not pass. Life seemed an eternal torture. Everything was so mundane and meaningless.
As they say time is the best healer. Time did heal some of his hollowness. He was beginning to feel more grounded in reality at least to some extent. In good time too for it was the most critical time in the life of a B-Schooler: placements. Though he did not have high hopes he applied to all the companies. As expected he did not figure in most of the Day 0 shortlists. But surprising one firm had shortlisted him: McKinsey and company. This was a surprise. Finally things were looking up. He attended the case interviews workshop and prepared himself well for the interview.
Soon the D-day arrived and he was facing the interview panel. Two men in black suits and black sun glasses sat in front of him, black suitcases by their side. They motioned him to sit down and gave him the case to read. As he read the case a sudden shiver shot up his spine. The case read
“A corporation from the alien world of Mabus seeks to obtain an ancient artifact called the apple of innovation from the world of the human race. What should be the best acquisition strategy?”
He got up with a start. One of the men spoke up, “Not so fast Mr. Singh. Please remain seated. We are called the Men in Black. Our organization polices all alien activity in Earth’s vicinity. We came to know you have recently been having liaisons with aliens. So we came to investigate”
“But I thought you were partners at a consulting firm.”
“Yes that too. But that is just a cover. This is the main job. Try and use your head Do you seriously imagine anyone would pay us shit loads of dough for fancy presentations telling clients things that they already know? ” One of them laughed derisively.
Well, as far as Harvi was concerned there was good news and bad news. The good news was that aliens were not a dream. The bad news was that the Men in Block were turning out to be a nightmare.These guys were thorough in their methods and he felt as if he was facing a Spanish inquisition.
“I am sorry to tell you, Mr. Singh, we will have to take you into our custody. You have committed treason against humanity by abetting aliens in stealing one of humanity’s most ancient artifacts. Your act has put the future of the human race at grave risk”
This was becoming too much for Harvi to handle and he was beginning to feel claustrophobic. He wanted to just break lose and run. As he started to sprint, he heard a click followed by a thud as something hit his back. He felt intense pain for a few seconds and then it went numb. Comfortably numb! He no longer felt any sadness, fear or anger. A strange kind of bliss engulfed his whole being. Was this the ultimate peace everyone yearned for? He could hear the slow melancholy song fade into distance as his vision dispersed into nothingness.
And I kind of find it funny, I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had
I find it hard to tell you, I find it hard to take
When people run in circles it’s a very, very
Mad world, mad World
2012 had been a great year for B-school placements. All newspapers blared loudly about the flood of offers and incessant rain of wealth showering on the students that year. Only one local newspaper carried a small column in a corner of the third page about a student reported missing, feared to be dead. Harvinder Kuldip Singh, the man with the blue turban, the singer who had sung his swan song.
Previous Part of the Story : Singer upsets the Apple Cart
First Part of the Story : Singer on the Roof
Picture credit : Swan Picture
Song Credit : Mad Mad World Song by Jules Gary