The Quester (A story)

Aegeus Corridor

(Third stop on the Intergalactic Highway. There is only one building in the lane, a solidly built office whose black exterior made it look formidable. There is an anxious stepping sound through the corridor. The steps are hurried like someone may be late for something.)

“I’m sorry I’m late” gasped the intern. (This conversation had originally taken place in Kupe. It has been translated) “That’s ok” said the Master amicably. “I was late on most days of the job also. Lateness is a sin I permit”. The flustered intern looked calmer. Having made amends for her lateness, she looked at the Master expectantly.  “I see you still demand an answer for the question you asked me”. She nodded gravely in response. “Well” he said “I suppose I can give you that answer later. Lateness is a sin I permit after all”, the Master chuckled.

She remained unmoved. “OK” he said, “I will bore you with the narrative. If I may ask though”, said the Master, “Why are you so desperate to know about what happened to Earth? It is just one small planet with semi intelligent life forms ruling it. Why is Earth so important to you?”

The intern’s cool demeanour corroded slightly. “Well Master” she spoke haltingly, “I worked in the analytics department at the Nova Mikus until recently. There we store information about all known planets. Well, I was assigned to do some basic verification for Earth once. Just a passing verification check on whether mosquitoes cause diphtheria or dengue. In case you are wondering Master it is Dengue”. She coughed self consciously, “So as I was reading the Earth file I was utterly absorbed by the diversity of the place that I read the entire file. The dominating species on Earth were humans. I was awed by stories of great humans like Abraham Lincoln and Gandhi. The place was flawed and, there were some misguided humans too. But on the whole I thought it was… probably the most beautiful planet ever created. But after a while the file was unavailable. I was shocked, why was the file made unavailable?”

The Master listened to his intern’s narrative silently. “So I suppose I must begin then. Need I remind you that whatever is spoken about here is confidential?” he said this with a severity that was uncharacteristic of him. The intern noticed this and agreed.

“As you pointed out correctly, the Earth had always been burdened by problems, primarily caused by a combination of bad people and bad choices. However, Earth is a hardy planet and humans kept trying to deal with these problems like discrimination, poverty etc. They plodded on. However things started spiralling out of control with the humans warring more than ever before, diseases became commonplace whilst evils like discrimination were to be dealt with everyday. There ceased to be any regard for the law, criminals ran rampant.

The humans on Earth then approached their Creator and begged for help. Since this was the first time the humans had approached their Creator, he agreed to listen. There was one antidote the Earthlings desired. Peace. The Creator frowned because the essence of peace was rare and enormous quantities would be needed to encompass the entire strife torn planet. He was on the verge of refusing, but changed his mind. He addressed the Earth people and told them that peace was to be earned. Therefore, he proposed a barter. The Earthlings were supposed to give their Creator something from Earth to prove they were deserved of peace. That Gift to their Creator was referred to as the ‘Cost of Peace’ by all humans and was discussed in great length at all Earth forums. After several months a list of possible costs were typed out. They were handed to the Creator by a group of ‘world leaders’.

The Creator read the list and sadness crept into his eyes. He was being offered things like the latest cutting edge nuclear technology, 25 years worth research on stem cells and quantum physics, rare jewels that included the Kohinoor diamond. The Earthlings looked at him expectantly hoping that the creator would accept something. But to their horror all he did was say, “Is there anything else? What you have shown me now does not make you eligible for peace”. The humans were aghast. What they had thought to be their best efforts was all dismissed in one stroke. It was almost cruel. But the Creator was firm. So now because peace could not be bought, they returned to their planet and tried to work things out“.

“Did things work out though?” The intern asked suddenly. “For the humans I mean”. The Master was quiet and the atmosphere of the room turned grave and pregnant with bad news. “No” said the Master and that single word had a sense of finality to it. “Earth’s condition degenerated to a point where all life on the planet was threatened probably…”. “Probably why I cannot find the file anymore”, said the intern as the horrible realization settled in. The Master merely nodded.

Then the Intern then said angrily, “So the Creator let them die? How Heartless…”. “Don’t you dare said the Master rising up and pointing a trembling finger at her, “Don’t you dare call the Creator heartless because…” said the Master choking back tears, “It broke him every time he saw the planet sink deeper into a quagmire of its own muck and misery. There were times when he was almost tempted to hand out the peace to them freely but he resisted”. The intern was shocked to see the Master so agitated, but asked, “What did the Creator want as his cost for peace?” The Master spoke clearly in spite of the tears cascading down his face, “He wanted to be reminded…” said the Master his voice barely above a whisper, “About the basic goodness of humans. They were programmed by the Creator to empathize with others. But they searched outside for finding peace, in things so superficial. They forgot that, the true solution, the real source of peace resided in every human’s Soul. Humans had forgotten about the potency of the soul and the wealth of compassion, love and courage that resides in it. As my price for peace, I only expected a commitment from humans to listen to their conscience and ignore the cacophony of meaningless sounds around them. However, in the faces of those men before me I saw only the lust for power and hate. Even if I gave them peace, there was nothing positive left to sustain it. The peace would fizzle out and the cycle of hate would resume. I would just be prolonging their demise, not saving them.

Do you know the real reason why things went severely downhill? One nation dropped a nuclear bomb, the most powerful piece of human weaponry, on another country. The effects were devastating and a quarter of the world’s population got wiped out instantly. The decision of dropping the bomb was made by the leader of the country, or the people representative. A clear example of how unconscionable people make bad choices.”

Each one of the Master’s words was punctuated with grief. A pause, “Yes there were outstanding people, like the Buddha and Mandela. But, humans of that age wilfully chose to ignore the lessons learnt from them. They were cowards and did not want to reconcile with the evil they had created. And in not reconciling with your demons, you allow them to grow like a parasite until the day when there is no longer you and your evil. Just you. And you are the evil”.

Realization dawned on the intern’s face, “Master, you just switched tense to I…”.There was a silence filled with unspoken knowledge. “Are you?” questioned the intern. “Yes.” affirmed the Master; head hung low, “I am”.

“Sometimes”, said the Master, “I wish they could be saved. I loved them the way a father loves his sons and daughters. Was I too hasty?” he asked the intern imploringly, “Must I have waited longer?”The intern walked over to the Master, took his trembling hands in her own and said with gentleness, “They were your children yes, but there comes a time when even parents need to let go. But you gave them a conscience, and it was their job to use it or misuse it. It was their quest to find themselves, not yours. I’m sorry for loss but their end was not your fault. I too wish they could have been saved though. I really wish”

The Quest

Tales, legend and folklore have told,

Of wandering spirits, both restless and old.

They scoured the universe, in the quest for peace,

To relieve them, of their tumult and unease.

If only those wretched souls, had silenced; the uproarious din,

And stopped believing persuasive stories, liars spin,

Would then melodiously chorus, the peace they seek; from within.