God Of a Man
Across Two Eternities
“Between victorious and vanquished lies a dividing line called superstition.”
Chapter Eleven: Tell me what you’ve never seen
Dated: 27th March, 2461
There in the great Indian Epic of ‘Mahabharata’, lives the story of Arjuna, a warrior prince renowned for his archery skills. Such was his expertise, he could arrow a moving fish in its eye, merely by looking at its’ reflection in a mirror on the opposite side. But imagine such a warrior, amidst the battle of his life-time, plagued by superstition. Imagine his concentration wavering from the enemy in front, to an insignificant mistake he might have committed in a time bygone, a prayer he might have missed, or a destitute he may not have helped. In that fleeting moment will lapse his evaluation of the wind that flows between him and his enemy, and his arrow might miss its mark. And enemies like the ones he took out, don’t waste an opportunity. His biggest foe, his step-brother Karna was plagued by superstition, that he was cursed. When he faced Arjuna in all his might, his thoughts wandered back to that incident, and he got scared; so scared that he forgot how to fight. Expectedly, Arjuna didn’t miss his mark!
Superstition asphyxiates one’s free will; adulterating their decisions. Imagine someone about to make a decision of their life-time, going to a holy place to get a sermon, and then trying to find meaning in that sermon, and see how it fits their situation. Will that person’s evaluation of their situation and actions taken accordingly, not be affected by the meaning they drew out of that sermon? A person religiously going through horoscopes, to know their future; are their actions independent of the thoughts generated by what they might have already read? Overcorrection and absolute carelessness are both destructive to initiatives, and yet they are exactly what superstitions embolden.
There is always more than one reason, to do something or not to do it. The correct one is always the one based on rationality; or gut feeling where rationality cannot help one, for gut feeling is sometimes about what a person’s subconscious mind might have picked out of the situation, or analysed from their past experience of life. But even this evaluation itself is not a rule cast in stone, to be followed like a superstition. Simply stated; there is no rule of how to do anything in future. All that is important is the goal that needs to be achieved; the aim, the target. All that is important is to be like Arjuna; and there are more than a few heads on NSSS ‘Maa’ who understand this.
“This is really disturbing,” Professor Dunmore expressed his concerns to Anne, as Bradley and Aman looked on, “Our performance has dropped as a team over the last four days. We’ve become slower.”
“I think I know where the problem is,” Aman replied, “Don’t worry professor; we’ll do something about it today itself.” He then looked at Bradley and asked, “You or me?”
“Let me try first,” Bradley proposed, and Aman nodded. No word had to be uttered by Anne!
Words are not weak placebos for actions. Words are what generate, affect or stop actions. Brain cells use more oxygen and energy than any other type of cells in the body. It’s just that people don’t happen to use them often enough.
“How do you know there is a god?” a suspicious Alan asked Norman.
“How do you know there isn’t one?” Norman asked in reply.
“I’ve never seen one in my life,” Alan quickly replied back, “Neither had my father, nor had my grandfather!”
“And neither will Norman himself,” Bradley added as he walked up to the trio of Norman, Alan and Mick.
“What if there is one?” Norman replied, “What will you do when you’ll find out?”
“And exactly when would that be?” Bradley asked.
“After we all die,” Norman replied, “We all will have to face him.”
“And how many dead have returned to tell us all that?” Bradley asked, “Or have you already died and seen him?” He then paced around, put his hand on Norman’s shoulder and continued, “The only time one sees god is when either one is hallucinating for some reason, or is in a state of trance or coma, is subject to some form of trickery, or is plainly lying.”
“It is a matter of faith,” Norman replied, “You have to believe in him, and only then will he reward you for being loyal to him.”
“I don’t want anything from anyone,” Mick replied, “I am happy with what I have. And what I don’t, I’ll get it one day through my own efforts.”
“You fool, you don’t even know what you have already lost,” Norman argued back, “You don’t even remember the big injustice you did to those who loved you. Do you think god will not punish you for your deeds?”
“Nobody did anything to anyone,” Bradley stepped closer to Norman and put his hand on his chest to push him back, and down low, “What happened had to happen, and what we did was the best thing that could have been done for the sake of humanity.”
“Yeah, try explaining that to god when you die,” Norman quipped.
“Firstly, I don’t need to explain anything to anyone anymore than I need to explain it to myself; my conscience,” Bradley replied, “And secondly, to explain anything to god, I first need to believe there is one, and then I’ll have to believe in all the super-powers that he is supposed to have, and then in heaven and hell. And only after having filled my mind with all those things that nobody has ever seen in their lives, and dead never come back to describe, will I have to think about how to explain anything to him, or her, or they.”
“It is a classic case of psychological mind control,” Mick was not to be left behind, “Every religion first preys on a person’s greed; promising them everything that they don’t have or can have in their lives. Then the next big one is fear; a fear of an all powerful entity that would punish you for the slightest of sins that might not even have hurt anyone, like he was a spurned jealous lover. The fear is abused to such an extent that those who believe don’t even dare question his existence. The only reason anyone prays to god is a selfish end; be it wealth, riches, fame, glory, or a freedom from either a torturous hell or a supposed cycle of life and death, none of which were ever more than a hypothesis developed by some shrewd brains, from what they observed in nature.”
“Oh really! Then what about all the moral stability that religion brought to the society?” Norman however argued on.
“You know what the biggest problem with any religion is,” Alan replied this time, “It comes with a lot of baggage. Not only one themselves has to believe in all that they will never see in their lives, but they have to pass it on to their children, who themselves will neither ever see any of it, nor will have the freedom to question it, out of fear. Worst is; for all you say what is good about religion, most kids will grow up ready to die in its name, and some would be ready to kill. And when you think of it; morality really is not about god or anything supernatural. It is about doing what is right and not doing what is wrong.”
“And who would tell you what is right and what is wrong if there is no religion?” Norman asked.
“Simple Norman,” Bradley replied, “When you do something that is going to affect someone else; you also know how it would make the other person feel. Now if you question yourself as to how you would feel if that someone was you, and someone else had done the same thing to you; if you find the answer to be not good, then it is wrong thing to do, and should not be done.”
“And what if I still do it, for I don’t have a fear of anyone,” Norman smirked as he dug in his ground.
“People who believed in god did wrong things all the time too,” Bradley replied, “But the world still remained a beautiful place to live in because majority of people did most of the right things, most of the time. A society only collapses when this balance is upset, only to re-establish itself with a renewed balance.”
“You think so,” Norman however wasn’t the one to give up easily, “Then how come we ended up in this situation that we find ourselves today, if it wasn’t for the god punishing us for the mistakes we made by leaving behind our loved ones?”
“Why are you here?” Bradley’s simple query however stumped him. But that wasn’t all Bradley had to say. He smirked and then continued, “We had to leave earth because at some point in time earth was bound to become inhabitable for humans, for one or the other reason. There would have to be an excuse in the end, for nothing lasts forever. Then, we ended up on this planet because we were ambushed by a hostile alien race. And that again was bound to happen at some point in time, for humanity was never alone. We could have bumped into a friendly race as well, but given the fragile nature of everybody’s existence, it is more natural to expect hostility in defence of territory. We as humans should know this better than any other race.”
“And now if you won’t stop bugging everybody with your lose talk, and slowing us down,” Alan took Bradley’s lead, and almost did his job for him, “Then we are likely to be attacked by an alien race again. And if we get vanquished here, it won’t be because some god wants to punish us, but because we weren’t industrious enough to prepare for our timely escape.”
“That’s absolutely the message from the Defence Core Committee,” and Bradley made it official, “You are here, so you might as well carry your weight. Stop throwing a spanner in the works. From now on we’ll be keeping a very strict watch on you.”
Keen observation is the first basic requirement to unlock the secrets. More important however is asking the right questions that those observations would answer; or to keep asking until you find the right questions.
“This doesn’t look good,” Doctor Fabien Schultz exclaimed as he reclined back in his chair and glanced over to Captain Williams. NSSS ‘Impact’ had been positioned outside the forested area since the day of their arrival itself. Rear Admiral’s update hadn’t mentioned the unwelcome and hostile fauna of the location, and the mission had been really lucky to have escaped with only one near fatality, thanks to some great commandeering by the Captain herself, including her on-ground tactics. But now the things had been streamlined, and the crew had almost gathered all the cargo that could be safely transported back to earth. The blurry images of Jenny’s settlement were an absolute waste, so all attention in the free time was focused on to gathering scientific data about the approaching sun.
“What is it Doctor,” Shania asked.
“Our sensors have picked up a slowly developing and even slower moving solar storm just beyond its top horizon,” Doctor explained, “The data that we have gathered suggests that it would possibly move across the surface of the star, over and around to this side over the next month or so, and would be closest to this planet in about four months.”
“Should it bother us?” Shania asked.
“Only if we want to return to this planet to retrieve more matter,” Doctor replied, “I expect the heat wave generated by this storm, to wipe out all life on this planet. And that would be much before the expected end of hospitable conditions in about twelve to sixteen months time.”
“So you mean we won’t be able to return to this planet?” Shania asked.
“We should be able to, once the storm has moved away, for a brief window of three to six months,” Doctor replied, “But what should concern us is whether there would still be extractable uranium available. The radiations accompanying the storm, given the proximity and size of the star means, we might come here to find a charred planet lit up with natural fission reactors.”
Deterioration is an inherent characteristic of everything that has a mass; for mass cannot avoid interaction with other mass. But sometimes mass is not physical, but rather metaphorical; like the mass or meaning behind thoughts. But it still retains that unavoidable characteristic.
“Now what are we supposed to do with this man,” an infuriated Aman exclaimed as he dragged Norman in front of Bradley and Chris, who were having a conversation with Mishansa.
“He’s up to nothing good again, is he?” Bradley asked shaking his head.
“If we let this man continue on for another day or two, I don’t expect any of us to leave this planet either alive, or sane enough to continue,” Aman laid bare his frustrated evaluation of the situation, “This time he was chatting up another group of people, stalling their work and infesting their minds with doubt, despair and fear.”
“Mishansa, I believe you haven’t told us everything about this man honestly,” Bradley turned around and complained to Mishansa before radioing out to Anne, “Chief; we’ve got a problem! We need to do something about this man here, Norman.”
“Where is Mishansa?” asked Anne from the other end.
“She is here with us,” Bradley replied back.
“I think if you guys are not comfortable with him, you should just put him back to sleep,” Mishansa calmly replied before anything else had to be said.
“That doesn’t solve our problem though,” Aman replied, “We can’t leave him asleep forever, can we?”
“Don’t look at me,” Mishansa replied back, “He’s a part of your crew and you can do whatever you want to with him. I don’t care! Leave him here if you want; what to me?”
“That’s not a bad idea,” Anne replied from the other end as Bradley allowed her to overhear their conversation.
“Do you people really think she is all good and honest,” Norman however tried to squeeze his way out of the situation by moving the needle of suspicion away from him, “You don’t even know what goes on in her mind, yet you want her to tell you what goes on in my head!”
“The man has got a point,” Bradley nodded in agreement, “The fact is; you’ve never discussed or shared your own race’s technology with us, in spite of our entangled predicaments. And for someone who comes from a race who can keep no secrets from each other; I am sure you know all about your technology as any other person of your race.”
“Good observation Captain,” Anne was quick to commend her colleague, and then raise a serious query, “So Miss Mishansa, if it is Miss; why should we trust you either?”
“What has all this got to do with me?” a clearly perturbed Mishansa tried to keep her composure, “Is it not enough that everybody I’ve ever loved or cared about is potentially dead and I have no way of knowing their fate? Is it not enough that I have to live through all the pain that afflicts your thoughts, and not to forget, all the filth, including that directed at me?”
Her words not only left everybody speechless, but forced them to hang their heads in shame. But Mishansa wasn’t finished yet, for the dam had been broken, “What exactly did you want me to tell you? That this man was there when his evil allies plotted and then killed your Reverend Luis Ferdinand?”
She then paced up to Aman, grabbed him by his arms and yelled in his face, “Should I have told you that this man was there when your Jenny caught them plotting at the ‘House of Faith’, and Sepoy Eighty Three and his henchmen went after her to kill her? Or when they plotted to kidnap your fiancée, mother and sister to use as bargaining chips?”
Her words made Aman immediately raise his head, with fierce flame lighting up his eyes. But Mishansa wasn’t done yet. She walked up to Chris and asked him, “Or do you want to know how this man told your wife your secret long before you ditched her, and then betrayed her in the most cruel fashion?”
“What?” a shocked Chris exclaimed.
“What will you do with this man now?” Mishansa however stepped back and asked them, “Are you going to kill him? Have you all not seen enough pain already? Are you even in a mental state to make a rational decision today? Is your conscience ready to carry anymore burden?” And then, having left everybody speechless, she turned around and walked away.