Imagination in Isolation
‘Going to planet Mars’
By Rajes Bala
I am scared. I wish I could talk to some one to take the fear away from me.
I have to decide what I want to do.
I wish I could see my friend Melanie now. Who has a vision of the future. And I like to see her ‘curing’ smile.
She is one of those people, who has the wonderful personalty to put one in an easy setting and make you feel good. She see things differently from most of us do. She has a big heart, lots of love and kindness to help others. Very rare creature with fascinating personality. She is not much taller than me but at times she is seems taller when she talks about things which are not easy to comprehensive by me. Such as the realm of Science etc.
While I am pottering around in the garden,(not a designer’ s one like some of friend ‘s garden). I thought about Melanie. My mind a bit relaxed, When I am thinking about her. The red roses dancing seductively to the gentle breeze as they wanted me to touch them. The birds were on the trees and talking to them self (about me?). It’s so beautiful to be with the wonderful nature around us.
I watered my jasmine. I like the fragrance of jasmine, that smell bring my old memories from back home, under the moon light and listening to the flute music, playing some where far away in the village.
No Corona or any virus then. We, the small kids get cold if we get soaked in the monsoon rain some times. Mother would give us boiled coriander water with ginger and add a lots of pure forest honey in for a few times, that’s all, we get better. And continue our activities such as playing around the river, walking through the overgrown bushes to pick up berries. Stealing and next door old man’ s mangoes for fun and make him annoyed and to chase us.
‘You all are growing up, the germs wouldn’t like to hurt you, God wouldn’t let get germs to get a better of you’ that’s the statement from my ‘very knowledgeable’ grand ma.
We all are under attack of Corona virus-the covid-19. ‘Old people may die a lot but others may get infected too’ the scientists are saying.
‘We are going to face the second wave on Covid-19 is inevitable ‘ this was the news every where in the morning. That’s why I am so scared at the moment.
Last year December the Covid-19 infection identified in Wuhan province in China. Since then, there is no place in this beautiful planet escape from the most devastating Virus attack in the human history. How we going escape?
‘The virus is mutating itself, they found that after testing patients in various area in the Western world. The virus from Wuhan is different from the one in Italy…’ the Scientists statements on Corona are confusing as the politicians words. The situation is frightening as we going to face the doom day.
Its every where hot or cold weather, do not stop this Virus to do the last dance of destruction, as the Hindu God Shiva had done the cosmic dance who destroy the world in order to create another one.
I do not want to just die with Covid-19. As I read it some where,’They will isolate you in the hospital. Once you are infected with the Virus, it will get in to one’s central nervous system and the air passages, then your five great vital organs, brain, lungs, heart, liver and the kidneys will lose their ability to keep you alive. No family member will be allowed to see you, die alone- that’s like small animal dying alone after attack by the strong one in the jungle’.
I am, one of the vulnerable person to be affected by the covid-19.
I am old, my body cells are not stronger any more, can die any time, even when I am in my sleep, my breathing can stop and my body will be a ‘body’ as a piece of wood. A frightening prospect.
The telephone rang.
My god, its Melanie. I was thinking about her most of the time today.
‘I have not seen her or talk to her since first week in March 2020. She was busy she said as her grand daughter Maya came to stay with her. Her Son was away abroad as he does a lot work for the company in London which has a branches in various other countries. Melanie’s Son with lovely little family lives in the south of England. Maya had to stay with Melanie in London for while as her daughter in law is looking after her ‘s mother who was not well and in hospital. Melanie was so happy for Maya is staying with her in London. Melanie is not often see her son as he is working on some ‘project’ abroad.
Melanie was kind enough to take me to her Son’s house once. A tranquil place surrounded by greenery, dense bushes and the Sea on one side. More like the village I was growing up. I wish I could have a place like that now to sit write.
‘This is a wonderful place for people like us’ I told while I was looking at sea, The waves are kissing the soft sand in the shore very gently. The air was cool and blended with country aroma of multiple wild flowers of the area.
Her daughter in law was very kind young women. She brought some snacks and tea for us and left two oldies to talk about the ‘world’s issues. Maya was playing around us.
Melanie was fixed her eyes at the beautiful blue sky and said, ‘We always love this place’ she said. I listen as I felt she wanted to tell me something more.
‘My son is often is away’ she said softly as I can tell from her tone she is sad that she couldn’t see him often.
I never asked her what’s the ‘project’ about. She never elaborated on anything of her personal matters such as her divorce. Maya came near us and said,
‘My dad is working on a project to go Mars’. Melanie’s five years grand daughter Maya said in a jolly tone, I noticed that she love to talk. A wide smile spreading on her beautiful angelic face. I was bit like when I was little-very ‘talkative’.
I smiled at her. ‘I am an angel from the sky’ she jumped up and down happily, her golden blond hair is playing with air and covering her face partially.
Me and Melanie looked at each others, I asked Maya ,’Oh, are we all came from the ‘sky?’
Melanie smiled at her and said ‘ Yes, yes, but that’s very long time ago,’ Maya ran towards to her grand ma hugged her grand mother tightly and kissed her cheeks tenderly.
‘No don’t tell me you are believing ‘extra terrestrials’ I joked with Melanie while thinking about my boys were madly in love with Star trek program on TV when they were little.
‘Well, you never know, why these, scientists, researchers and many other people are doing a hell of job to find about the moon and Mars and so on, are looking for connection of the past of man kind.’She was asking me a question while she was poured the tea for me, shaking her head as she is asking the question to herself too.
Why indeed why is the speedy space race,I thought.
‘The space race is going on since 1960s, about 45 missions to the Mars. American, Russians, the E.U, then the Indian in 2014,now, the United Arab Emirates is gone there on the 20.07.2020. And they all wanted to do or take or control something in the Mars’ She continues
‘We got multitude of problem in this planet, why these people spending so much money, time on these missions?’ I am getting interested in Meanie’s explanation. Little Maya seems fascinated to know how much information her grand mothers has on Mars.
‘ How long for us to go there grandma?’ Maya’s eyes were sparkling, she looked at sky and ask her grand ma in an exiting tone as she wanted to her plan to her journey to Mars immediately.
‘ Oh my darling, it will take over six months, in a huge Space ship with everything in it to looked after people who are going there ‘Melanie giving information the child with wild imagination, I thought.
I went to Australia direct flight from London Heathrow air port and it took me 24 hours or more. I have decided I never going to be in the flight for twenty four hours looking through the window of passing clouds.
Mmm, I am not in to a long flight or an adventurous person, I thought.
‘No that is not my cup of tea thank you’ I giggled nervously. Maya joined me in the giggle as little girls do when they are in ‘grown ups’ company’
I leant towards to Melanie and looked in to her blue eyes and asked her,’By the way why these experts such the scientists and aeronautic engineers and cosmonauts are helping the rich, as they are funding these space projects and to run in a hurry to another planet away from our beautiful planet called Earth’ I emphasized the word ‘beautiful’ nicely.
She sighed, started tap on the table with her index finger as she is making a strong point, ‘This planet is in trouble, we are not going run out of enough water to drink,’Melanie’s voice is reflected the pain in heart about the forthcoming water shortages to the man kind. I did not argue.When I was away recently I noticed the struggle of the poor to buy drinking water.
Melanie noticed my silence. She continued,’ Thousands of people are going to die as there will not enough field to grow food crops, not a proper place to live as a few men are destroying the beautiful planets for their greed and self satisfaction’. Melanie said as she was reading my mind.
She continues,’Not every one can join the trip to Mars, when people faced with problems most will struggle to survive, fair number will die with hunger and poverty, some will kill themselves to get a away from horrible world’ Melanie was angry about rich people and explained to me about the rich who are destroying world for their individual families benefits. I nearly cried when she talked about the poor.
‘Why do you think that, the rich are interested in Mars’ this is my childish(!) question.
‘Well, the planet may not have the same atmosphere as the earth but, supposed to have other components such as oxygen and rich minerals other items for survival, so Mars is very important planet and many people think that the next step to the man kind from the earth’.
Next stop? Next stop from the earth? Just like that?
My next stop will be in my library when I returned from this village to London to read more about this Mars.
I stared at her blankly but I know that she knew that I have millions of questions in my mind.
‘Why you looking at me as I am mad or something’ one of her beautiful smile flash across her face.
I started to say,’ Well there is no water for any life to strive..’ I did not finished,
She said, ‘yes there is a little water on the surface but plenty underneath of the surface. With modern technology from the earth people getting water for consumers use is not be huge problem.’
I thought she is cross that somehow the rich people are going to leave this planet to look for better life in Mars.
‘Living in a very small place like this, made people think differently than the busy Londoners. We have more time to read, and see the nature and questing its complexity, My son Robert was like Maya when he was little boy, always asked questions, lots of questions about the sea, the waves, trees, leaves, flowers, animals. fields, mostly about sky and stars’.
She stopped for a few second and said,’ May be that the reason for my Son Robert to get interested in space science’ she got up suddenly as she did not want to continue the subject any more.
After a few months of meeting her in the Corona put the world completely choas.I went away to Sri Lanka to be with my sister in second week in March 2020,as my kids wanted me to be away from London as the Virus infection was increasing at that time and a few cases in Sri Lank
But I stranded in Colombo- the capital city as they put the curfew due to the spread of Corona. While I was in Colombo, when I phoned my other friends in London told me the worrying situation in London. England loosing more people to Corona than any other countries in the world.I was so shocked to hear the news,I was worried about friends and family in London.
I was alone with strangers in the hotel. Not a single familial face at all. Practically empty every where. I could go to the roof top and see and feel the silence and the emptiness of the world. All the humans are indoors except the, animals, birds and bees. I was in a surrounding which was breathtakingly beautiful. I could see the sun rise over the green field and the beautiful sun set in the sea. Seeing those trees from roof top as I am talking to them in close contact. Seeing the pattern of the Marcosa leaves make me feel the mighty design of the nature.
The tropical trees, flowers, the fruits, singing talking, birds all seems so magical. During the full moon in April I was looking at the extraordinary sight of the red moon and the bright stars of Orion,Cyrus and so on. Oh god,you are great I mumbled. Nature is mighty. It has it’s own rhythm to bring the world back from any disaster. Then I thought about Melanie a lot when I was alone. May be because the ‘red moon’ and the stars Orion unconsciously think about ‘Red Planet Mars’ and Melanie and Maya.
Me and Melanie talked via Video call next day. But she seems not ‘engaged’ in the conversation. Has she lost any in the Corona crisis? Her old in-law was in hospital, what has happened to her.
I did not ask her. When I asked about the situation in London, not much as she said about the corona. She is ‘busy’ with her grand daughter, who is stranded in London with her due to lockdown she said.
Now I am back in London and her call make me happy and I wanted to ask her lots question about her lockdown experience with her family. I ran and answer the phone.
She:’How are you my dear?’ Her tone is sad but very loving and concerned.
Me;’ I am fine thank you’.There is a pause from her side.
She;’What you going to do?’
Mmm, what I am going to do? I wanted to say,’I am not to doing much’. But her question was ‘what are you going to do’
me:’ Well I will continue to do what I am doing now read, write, go for a walk and so on.’
She;’And die’ her tone was so strong and definite. She did not say,’die with Corona virus’.
I paused a bit, but started to talk.
She: My daughter in -law has died.. her mother got infected in hospital with Corona and my ..’
She stopped, I felt numbed, what can I say to comfort my friend who had lost her young daughter in-law to the horrible Virus?
Me: Oh no I am so sorry’ repeated that line a few times, I am devastated, up set and frightened when I thought about her question about dying, she continued.
She: Are you just going to die?
Me: What? Yes we all die one day, but that’s not good to hear from your friend or family at time time like this.'(There was a gap of half a minute or so, then,
Melanie:’me and Maya are going away’Her voice sound certain and kind of ‘ending everything.
Me:’ To the South?’ as to the Son’s place?, where she said she loves so much.
There is no answer. Melanie was quiet for thirty second or so and said,
Melanie;’Far away from everything and every one”
Melanie.’The virus is mutating, that’s means no vaccine can protect us no scientists can say exact truth about this exceptionally dangerous virus’
‘Me:’ What are you saying’
Melanie:’ Think very carefully, we cannot live here any more, we have to isolate ourself from these uncertain world’
Me: What on earth you are talking about?’ I am getting cross with Melanie now.
Melanie:’My dearest, we have to do it, far from this confusing world, we three woman will take new path and go far, forget the past, see the light in other side’ she sound as she has already found the ‘way and the place ‘ to get out of this world.
What? Far from everything? Is she going kill herself and Maya? Does the isolation form the Covid-19 make her to lose her mind? Or the death of daughter in law made her to take drastic action?
Me:(panicking)’ Oh no, Oh no please, Melanie don’t do that.'(I am crying) running around in the garden, breathing heavily.
Melanie:’ You can come too, life some time takes sudden turns you know?'(her voice is calm,
as she thought through a very good plan and she will be very pleased if I join her)
What? What is my wonderful, beautiful Melanie who has so much wisdom and knowledge is asking me to do?
Going far away from this place Where? Kill ourself somewhere alone?
I am not going to join them or kill myself, I do not like people who are going to ‘Dignitas’ the place in Switzerland to finish them self in front of their family s while they are fit and healthy.
Me;’ No, no, Melanie, I am not going to do a Suicide pack with you’ (I shouted at her, still crying)
She;’what? Oh no, I am not going Dignitas you idiot, we are going to Mars. I thought you like adventures life, It will be fun to join the crew, who are from various background, I recommend you as you have medical knowledge and interested in Aliens and other world away from us ‘ She was explain a lot in a minute! GOING TO PLANET MARS!
I was shock to hear that she is leaving this beautiful planet with 6.5 billion people to the Red planet which is 142 million miles away and not a single human being, a cold desert with very thin atmosphere. What is going on? Did she meet the ‘Martian’ or some Alien during the isolation?
I was angry, I yelled at her and ask,’What about your talk and tears about the poor in this planet, oh I see you are are joining your Son’s secret project aren’t you?’ I wanted scream at her,BUT,
Suddenly there is a laud noise. As a vehicle is starting to move fast, oh my god not the space ship is taking over with Melanie and Maya?.
I woke up, sweating, rapid pulse because of the confusing bad dream about going to Mars with Melanie and Maya.
I could hear the car moving out side of my house. The man next door usually get ready by four o’clock to in the morning to go to work’.
He may be one of the poor who works in the front line to help others. People like him and other many billions of people. He may catch Corona and die, but he will never afford go to Mars.