Sunday, 10 May 2009

The bridge that sometimes isn't

Sometime in the 17th century,

Moin-ud-din called his men to stop. This would be the last stop for the day. From here on, they would march to Ambavane and halt there for the night. Torna was still day's march away. But it would fall, in a week, it would fall to the Mughal empire! The maratha spies probably knew of the impending assault on Torna. He was sure though, that he would reach the fort before them. A few minutes rest and then they would proceed to Ambavane. He sent two men to fetch water from the river nearby.

Afzal and Ismail walked the short distance to the bank. Unknown to them, the observer watched. They returned to Moin-ud-din, having collected the water they would need for the night. A few sips were passed around and Moin-ud-din called his men to start marching again. Ambavane was only an hours walk away, across the river.

The observer watched in dismay as the brigade of mughal soldiers approached the gate. The gate had been setup centuries ago by the great ones, and it transmitted once in a day. For men to be around the gate at this time would most likely cause the men to die. This was the reason the observers had been appointed at each gate. They were entrusted with the job of ensuring that no men were around when the gates functioned. This observer noted the time, 7:46 PM, local. In exactly fourteen minutes, the gate at the river would open, and in the process destroy the troops.

He mulled over his options. He was blessed by the great ones with the ability to move objects at will. Moving an entire brigade, however, would take too much time, and a few men would perish at the gate. He could cause freak weather, but he was sure the troops would soldier on. Precious minutes ticked by, he still wasn't sure what to do. The gate was beginning to open. The horses began neighing uneasily. That was the cue he needed. He influenced the minds of the panicked beasts and made them turn away and run in the opposite direction.

And run they did. As the foot soldiers scrambled, first out of the way and then after the horses, the observer heaved a sigh of relief. A few men were injured and the entire brigade scattered in the chaos that ensued. The observer made sure that the chaos directed the men away from the gate.

A few hours later, Moin-ud-din was a furious man. He couldn't make out why the horses had panicked when they did. With the brigade in complete disarray, and many men injured, there was no way that he would be able to mount the planned assault on Torna. As the sun began it's rise on the cold winter morning, Moin-ud-din wondered how he would explain this to the emperor. Some distance away, a contented observer looked on to his duties for the new day.

January 2009,
Two people, on a motorcycle were making a trip to a village by the name of Nasrapur. GreySith and Enthu, as they are known in certain circles, were out on a reconnaissance trip to check a site for astronomical observations. They had started late from the city and it was well past 7 PM as they reached Nasrapur Phata. After they turned from the highway, it had been an uneventful, if a little disconcerting, journey. The long winding road, without any lighting was beginning to give both of them a case of nerves. At that time though, both of them were holding on quite well. They made small talk to overpower the nagging fear of what they would do if they were ambushed by a gang of thieves in the darkness of the night. One half of an hour of riding brought them to the prospective site. They were impressed- the sky had never been so clear before. There was a certain joy in the difficulty they faced in locating constellations! Such was the dispersion of dim stars, permanently faded away in the city, that it was hard to identify the stars that they could see regularly from the city. They certainly were satisfied with the site. Enthu spoke to the owner of the site, discussing the monetary aspect of visiting the site for a day. After the discussions drew to a close, they set out on the return journey.

More of the same pattern followed. A little small talk, covering the nagging fear. It was as uneventful as it had been on the journey to the site, until Enthu suddenly felt a jerk. GreySith was bringing the motorcycle to halt, with all the effects- screeching tyres, a slight skid etc, turned up to the max. He was little surprised, then he looked up. The surprise was swiftly replaced by shock, as he and GreySith looked at a bridge that they had no memory of.
"Oh lord, we're lost!" Exclaimed GreySith.
"It cannot be, we've taken the same route that we took on the way here."
"I tell you, we did not cross that bridge!"
"But it's hardly possible, I'm sure we've not taken a wrong turn."
A little panicked now, GreySith repeated, "We did not cross that bridge on the way here. I am completely sure of that."
Enthu tried to get a hold on the situation, tried to remember if they had crossed bridge. The sith was right, they absolutely had not crossed the bridge. Realising however, that it was safer to be moving than stationary, they decided to keep going straight ahead. A few kilometres later, they were surrounded by the familiar town they had passed on the way to the site. Now relieved, GreySith ventured to talk,
"That's it I suppose. We must've missed it..."
"I suppose so... we're on the right road now, all's okay. Do you want me to ride back to Pune?"
"Sure. Works for me, we'll switch places at the highway."

At the highway, they stopped the bike. GreySith happened to look down at the instrument console of the motorcycle. Thoroughly unnerved, he blurted,
"We... we travelled three kilometres more on the way out..."
"Oh %@&#! We didn't cross the bridge then, did we?"
"I don't think we had, not on the way to the site. And I'm sure that we did not take a wrong turn on the way back. Holy &@$?... what the hell just happened?"
"I've no idea mate, lets just head home..."

A few kilometres away, the observer was amused. He had merely picked up the two diminutive humans and put them far across the bridge, so that they would safely miss the gate when it was open. Having done his job again, he looked forward to a brief rest before he resumed his duties the next day...

(The above is a highly fictionalised account of a true occurrence. Read a more realistic interpretation of events, the way Enthu saw it, here)

1 comment:

falconer said...

Actually a great piece of fiction!
But aliens do not come to India. They only go to the US.