Down memory lane

Sometimes the tiniest, briefest, minutest of incidents change your life. For me, it was the moment I saw the hummingbird flutter in the breeze outside my window.
It hung there, gently bobbing up and down, its wings hard at work. I was captivated by the beauty of the moment. I watched in awe, too scared to move lest it should fly away.
That was when my brother came bursting into the room. My brother was seven years old and three years younger than me. Those days he was going through a phase when he believed he was an aeroplane.
He ran around the house, roaring like the engine of an old propellor plane. We had seen one of those antique pieces at the aircraft show.
As I turned to hush him, he was already halfway inside the room. Arms spread wide, head bent at an awkward angle. He was creating a horrible racket.
When I turned back, it was too late. I ran towards the window and opened the glass panes wide. I looked in all directions, but the bird was nowhere in sight. I went to the only place where I could drown all my worries and troubles.
The library was a short distance from home. The old librarian was a friend. He saw me walk in and sensed all was not well. A few minutes later, after he had heard my tale of woe, he said, “Hmm, maybe I have just the book that will make you happy.”
He returned with a copy of ‘The book of Indian Birds by Dr Salim Ali’.
“Find out more about that hummingbird of yours, ” he said.
The librarian had judged correctly. Not only did I learn all about hummingbirds, but I also discovered birds that I had never seen.

“Uncle, can you tell me about that bird ?” the question and the tug on my shirt sleeve brought me back to earth. I put my binoculars aside and looked at the young girl standing and staring at me from behind soda-bottle glasses.
I smiled, “That one?” I said, pointing at a dark blue kingfisher perched on the top of a tree in the park. The girl nodded eagerly.
“Are you interested in knowing more about birds?”
“She has always been fascinated by birds,” a young woman holding her hand replied.
“That is a kingfisher. Take my binoculars and check out its plumage,” I said as I cleaned the lens and handed it to the child.
Instead, she had some questions for me.
She said, “Why do you watch birds?”
“I am an ornithologist.”
“You study birds?”
I did not expect a young child to know what an ornithologist was.
Now it was my turn to be impressed.
“Yes, indeed.”
She reached for the binoculars and said, “I am reading a book, ‘The book of Indian Birds. I also want to be an ornithologist when I grow up.”
I smiled. High up in the branches, I could see a hummingbird hovering in the breeze.

The present future – a short story

The rocking at first was gentle. It only sent me deeper and deeper into sleep. Then the motion grew aggressive. Finally, I opened my eyes. The wall sought out the point of focus of my eyes and formed the image of a clock there. It was a clock with numbers. I never learnt how to read clock hands. No one expected me to. The world around us changed to our level of perception. Everyone grew up as the birthing tubes made them.
The clock said ten. Reading my mind, the player put out some music. It was soothing. The walls knew what I wanted. The walls always knew my tastes. It was all in the system, desires, thoughts, actions – all appended, calibrated and fine-tuned. It was a super-efficient system that thought for you. Instructions on what I had to do would play in my mind. There was no need to think, no wasting of time. The system thought for me. Life in the thirty-first century was easy.

Memoirs of a failed escape attempt

I tried to squeeze through the gap as the gates closed. But the attendants were quicker and grabbed me. I was trapped. I cried, begged but no one seemed to care. I looked around me and found that I was not the only one trying to escape. Others were crying their guts out, but no one seemed to care.
At a distance, I saw a black shape floating towards me. It was covered from head to toe in black but had a white circle around the face. As it came near me, I realized that it was a woman.
She came near and grabbed my hand. I tried to pull free, but her grip was firm.
“Come now, don’t try to resist. Today is your first day in kindergarten and marks the beginning of a new chapter in your life. Proper education and guidance will turn all of you into fine young citizens! ” She said as she dragged me yelling and screaming behind her.