‘Cloning Cleo’

by Rajes Bala (Agust 2020)

Cleo is not there in her room. The silence is unusual, as there would be jazz music if she is were in the house. She loves jazz music. ‘It’s the sound of the soul of humanity’ she says. Now, the room is empty, her travelling bag is not there. There is a feeling of lost. although there is plenty of her stuffs around the room. Cleo has gone!

Beautiful, intelligent Cleo who can speak four languages and play beautiful music on Piano, who listens to jazz when she is cooking, gardening and exercising, is missing from the room. Missing from the house, missing from their life, too?

Her(adopted) ‘mother’ Sara stands stiff as a block of wood near Cleo’s bed. Sara can not move. She can feel the sense of fear engulfing her. The place gives Sara a chill. The Autumn wind is strong and angry, hitting the glass window now and then like a drunken thug assaulting a weaker victim.

The Sun is miserable is not happy with Cleo’s departure.

‘Did I know that she was going to leave us?’ Sara asks herself. She had known there was something wrong about Cleo for a long time, she knew that one day she would leave them.

Sara remembers the time, when her husband Oliver asked the question reluctantly,’Shall we adopt Cleo’? He was standing in this same room about nineteen years ago. He was fiddling with his fingers nervously. Oliver is a tall guy about six feet plus two more inches. But he stood there like a vulnerable soul.

‘ Cleo needs a mother’ Oliver’s voice was pleading. He wanted help his friend Mark who had lost his wife Gowry and their two small adopted boys in a car accident. Leaving himself and baby alone in the world. thoroughly in mourning mood since the death of his loving family. Mark was not looking after baby Cleo or him self.

Oliver wanted to help his friend by adopting the motherless daughter.

Sara had said ‘yes, yes, yes’ without any hesitation. She had been was waiting for this request. Sara had loved Cleo since the day she was borne.

‘Blue eyed blond Mark and the dark haired Indian beauty Gowry had produced an amazing baby ‘ thought Sara. Those two, Mark and Gowry seemed to be one of those couples who were borne to be with each others. So much in love, would do anything for each others. They’d met at the Primary school, then their journey continued together until Gowry had gone to heaven.

Gowry was a very religious girl who believed in myth and ancient wisdom and history and all, where Mark was a Doctor, a Scientific minded person, who was always curious to know more about the Science..

Sara had joked to Mark, ‘You didn’t genetically modify Cleo, did you?’.Mark worked in research laboratory, where they conducted many experiments for the betterment of future generations she was told.

‘What is the experiment?’ Sara asked curiously?

Mark smiled at her but did not give an answer.

‘Is it a secret experiment?’ Sara wanted to know more.

”Oh no, some times these environmental activists do damage to the building as they think we are doing something unethical’

‘Such as?’

‘Well, they accuse us of experimenting on animals, genetically modifying or cloning humans or things like that’.Mark had explained jokingly but she could feel the anxiety in his voice.

Mark and Gowry had desperately wanted to have children as they both would have loved to have a big family. Mark was an only child. Gowry had a sister and brother, but they both left for the another country for a better life. While Mark and Gowry tried to have a baby their own, they’d adapted a twines. A pair of sweet little boys of just a few months old.

‘Well, caring for others kids in need of loving care makes you feel happy and one day I may have a baby on my own’.

Gowry continued to try to get pregnant.

After a few years without any natural progress, they decided to have a baby by via In Vitro Fertilisation.

Meanwhile, Sara and Oliver given up, after Sara had two miscarriages and Sara ended up with anxiety and depression. Oliver desperately wanted to help her

When the sudden tragedy struck Mark’s family and Gowry’s family, Oliver felt untold sadness as Mark and Gowry were life long friends. Mark went to a deep depression for a short period.

While Mark and his ageing mother in-law struggled with baby, Oliver felt he would help his friend. He suggested adopting Cleo.

After many months of thinking, and wondering and feeling uncertain about of giving his baby to his friend. In the end, Mark agreed, though it was it was a painful experience for him.

Cleo was just two years old at that time. Oliver had spent some time with little Cleo in Mark’s house. She loved the basement where there were many boxes and books that belonged to Marks great grand father Mark Miller, who had been an explorer in Africa during the early part of twentieth century.

After the adoption procedure was complete, Mark took himself off to a country which is very far away from London. He left his ancestral home for Cleo and asked Oliver to take care of it.

Mark came to visit Cleor twice in the first ten years, by then he was re married with two kids and settled and had with his new family.

The last time when he was in London Cleo was twelve, much taller and, exceptionally clever for her age. She could speak four languages. She learned her biological mother’s language Tamil from her ageing grand mother who regularly visited, loving and caring for Cleo, she taught her to speak Tamil, and took her to the Tamil school on Saturdays, where Cleo quickly learnt to read nicely in Tamil. Mark’s grand mother was French. So, Cleo happily in to learned that language too. English, Tamil, French all three languages were related to her, but every one was surprised when she chose to study Greek!

‘Why Greek? is it because Western civilisation came from Greece?’ Oliver and Sara asked excitedly.

Cleo, smiled and told them,’Tamil, which is my mother tongue, one of the oldest languages in the world. So, I am to learn that. Then I came across my parents’ things which I was supposed to open when I am fourteen. For some reason, my father has so much ancient stuff from Egypt. Why, I wondered. When I opened a few boxes I found a bit about my great great Grand father Mark Miller.’

‘ I think my grand father Mark Miller was one of those colonialists digging for treasure in Egypt’s ancient historical area. I found a little silver coin with her face on it, wrapped in a very old silk cloth, I think it really truly has something to do with Cleopatra, the great beauty of Egypt. Since I opening that the box, some thing tells me to learn about Cleopatra. So I am interested in her language and like to learn Greek’

Cleo said with a wide smile on her face. Cleo looked some one else. for a second Sara thought Cleopatra her self standing in front of her in the place of little Cleo.

Sara was wondering and asking Cleo in an uncomfortable tone,

‘So, you think your parents named you Cleo for some particular reason.?’

Cleo leaned to wards Sara and kissed her tenderly and said,’You never know I might be Cleopatra’s clone’. Cleo laughed as if she had told a great jokes. Sara felt a chill wind passed by her when Cleo kissed her.

‘Am I Cleopatra’s carer in the past? Oliver was her body guard?’ Sara asked her self.

Sara remember her question to Mark about ‘genetically modified your beautiful baby?’

Had Mark’s great grand father brought something back from Egypt that had belonged to Cleopatra? was there anything secret material or preserved body part of Cleopatra, Mark could have used to clone a replicate?.Sara asked her self these questions but some reason he couldn’t discuss with Oliver.

Soon after this conversation with Cleo about her learning Greek, Mark came to England. He was absolutely amazed to see his daughter who was only twelve, talking like a grown up lady with knowledge of various subjects from destruction of the environment, to, Astronomy and world politics!

Mark took his daughter for a walk, a long walk it seems. When they returned, Sara noticed, Cleo was very quiet and Mark seemed extra ordinarily tired. Mark left London within a few days. What had they talked about? Why had Mark been so restless and Cleo so quiet?

Sara could not ask Oliver these questions as he always telling her that she is worried about Cleo too much.

There were no visits from Mark after that, just a few routine calls.

Cleo was changed as she grew up.

‘She was doing well in school’, the teachers said.

But there was some thing about Cleo.She seemed serious about what she wanted to do with her life.

‘Fight for justice’.She said.’ No one has a right to destroy the planet, which is given to us by god’ she would say angrily to Oliver and Sara.

She was a beautiful looking young girl with an enthusiasm for learning as many things as possible. . Very passionate about nature, buying exotic plants from hot countries, mainly from Africa. Also developed interest in ancient civilisations, new technology and wanted to travel to explore space.

One day she she asked Sara, who’s’ idea was it to adapt her? ‘

Well, Sara was hesitant to answer her question.

‘Do you think my father felt I killed my mother and brothers like Cleopatra did to her family?’

‘What? What are you talking about .. .’

Sara did not complete her sentence.. Cleo asked quickly, ‘Do you think my father cloned me from from some biological parts of Cleopatra brought by my great great grand father’

Sara could not say a word. Long ago, she herself thought about it. She remembered times when Cleo was about eight or nine Cleo was talked about being an avatar of ‘Cleopatra’. Oliver thought too much playing with old things in the basement made her think silly things like that. They thought her questions were based on childhood fantasy.

But Sara’s feeling regarding Cleo’s behaviours made her think again. ‘Cleo may be right. Some how Cleo is cloned from Cleopatra’s DNA. Mark’s great grand father Mark Miller must have brought some secret biological items of Cleopatra,then Mark might have experiment on it to Produce Cleo’

‘ I saw a lots of archaeological things in my great great -grand father’s boxes, regarding Cleopatra. He may have be in Love with Cleopatra in his mind. His name was also Mark, like Cleopatra’s lover Mark Antony. May be my father thought there was a reason my great great great grand father brought back that ancient stuff from Egypt. May be he went through the stuff and found something there to go further. So, he may have used my mother to do his experiment of Cloning me to please his great grand father’s wish. An Indian mother and an English father would have given the same genetic mix in me, as Cleopatra was of Greek origin”

Often, when Cleo joked like like this Sara would change the subject. Did Cleo feel different and alien from her and Oliver? Or had she really been affected by great great- grand father’s ancient collections of Cleopatra?

Had Cleo told her father that she was playing with his ancestor’s collection?.Had Mark stopped to coming to London because Cleo was becoming the woman he knowingly or unknowingly had created?

Sara’s thoughts filled with many questions, some times she felt Cleo’s behaviours made her to read unwanted stories into reality.

Sara and Oliver began to feel that Cleo’s mind is somehow changing and her inner thoughts made her lose touch reality. She stopped playing the piano and did not listen to Jazz music any more.

Cleo would say, ‘ We must do something to stop the apocalypse due to environmental changes, you know in olden days. dictators had to destroy anything and everything in their path to gain domination of the world ‘

Sara and Oliver just thought she is a teenager, and imagining being some one important in the present or past is part of growing up.

When Cleo was about seventeen she was looking at photos in the news paper of a man who was going to stand for the Presidential election in the country of ‘ Dream land’.

‘Look, doesn’t he look like ‘Octavian’ who killed Cleopatra’ and destroyed the beautiful land of Egypt?’

Sara looked at the photo which had been taken when the politician was a young man.

‘Mmm, bit like him’ Sara mumbled reluctantly. She did not want to encourage Cleo to go further in to her imagination. ‘If he is elected the world will have to face many disasters., Not only, will I be killed by him as I am one of those who are not his type but many thousands will die for his greed and stupidity” Cleo predicted with sadness.

The politician who looked like Octavian won the election.


The world began to change. The leaders in many countries around the world, who were elected by the people for the people did very little for the people. People suffered from various disasters, floods, fires, earth quakes and so on due to climate change.

The world is being punished by god for destroying the beautiful nature which was god’s gift to all of us. The world is nearing an end, and we are heading in to a new cycle of, ‘Kaliyuga’ she said while she was holding book titled ‘End of the World’.

She was just eighteen then.

‘Oh my god, Cleo is really confused. The stories from Cleo’s Tamil grand mother regarding Indian mythologies, and Ancient Egyptian archaeological stuffs in the basement along with the continuing natural disasters in the world are making Cleo very upset’

Sara continued to worry about Cleo’s complex mind.

Cleo went to University, did very well, ‘ Genetic engineering’.

Sara and Oliver hoped Cleo’s life at University would have pull her away from her imaginative life.’ I was bit wild before I went to uni, but after I meeting you my life changed’ Sara said to Oliver and kissed him tenderly. They wished Cleo would meet some one nice at university to make her see the real world.

Cleo graduated from University. Came home alone. No boy friend or girl friend but many friends like her, who were interested in making this world better. Cleo was more determined than ever, to change the world for the betterment of the future. She threw her self in to activities promoting equality, fairness, and a better future for every one on the planet. She spent a lots of time going on demonstrations to change the world.

Then came Covid-19. ‘The virus is part of the changing pattern of the world, as the multinational companies have destroyed the rhythm of the nature. Did you see the way hurricane Isaia ran through in USA recently? ‘ She wept.

‘The virus will kill millions on the planet as the unstoppable environmental changes continues. Also, people will die partly to do with the ignorance of the politicians regarding the virus and inappropriate action to control the spread.’ Cleo shouted in anger.

‘ Our bodies represent the planet, ‘she cried like desperate child. She continued to explain to Sara and Oliver like a teacher explaining the subject.

‘Our body has two thirds water, same as the water on the planet. Our vital organs, brain, liver, hearts, lungs and kidneys are the same as the great powers on the planet, earth, air, water, heat, and space, we polluting them all. How will the world will survive?.Would you drink polluted water or breathe polluted air or eat food produced in a polluted field?’

How should one answer her questions? Sara and Oliver. partially agreed with her. But what could they do?

Cleo threw a few printed papers around saying,’ Look at the leader, friend of Octavian’s look alike, leader of ”Land of the cursed” jidimore is feeding, and taking photos of the birds while his country suffers seventy five thousand new Covid-19 cases per day. People are starving with no food, dying like flies with no medical support for poor Covid -19 victims in his country, yet he acts as if he is in paradise where everything is wonderful’.

‘ Oh darling we can’t do anything to change the world’ Sara held Cleo with love.

‘God is punishing us for electing leaders like him’ Cleo cried loudly like a child in real pain, while holding a photo of the leader who look liked the killer of Cleopatra.

. Sara and Oliver were very worried about Cleo’s mental state.’Isolation in lockdown creating her mind to go unbalanced?’ Sara wondered.

‘Please do not look at me as if I am mad like the leaders do, and putting people in prison for telling the truth’. Cleo walked away..

Octavian look a like was standing elected again. Cleo was upset that ‘he is would be re elected by stupid people of ‘Dream land’ and the punishment from god would increase.

Suddenly they received news came from Marks family from abroad,Cleo’s father Mark had died from Covid -19. A world renowned brilliant research doctor, who spent so many years in the Laboratory, working for the betterment of the world had died.

Cleo lost touch with the normality. She shut her door to the outside world. She would not come out for days. Would, see no one. Ate very little. Spoke a few words to Sara from behind her door.

A heavy wind battered London with anger. ‘The god of air the ‘vaayu’ is angry with the selfish people on earth, look at the rain it’s crying for my father. Hear thunder its warning us to stop the atrocity towards nature’. Cleo, cried for her father who has not seen her for over ten years.

‘He was cross with me when he was here last time’ she told Sara and Oliver in a soft voice.

Cleo continued,’When he was a little boy, he was told by his grand father ‘not’ to open and touch anything in that boxes in the basement. He thought his grand father was frightening him in order for to keep him away from the boxes. He never went near it..When my brothers were playing in the basement, they found the key, opened the a big box. Played with some of the stuff in the big box. The next day, they were dead. This is what he told me.’

Cleo continued, ‘I knew that. When I was with Oliver in the house I went to the basement and there was a small mouse running around. While I was chasing the mouse, I found the key and open the big box, took the coin wrapped in the silk cloth. But I did not touch anything anything else. I put the key back where I found it. When dad came to London I told him about it. He was very cross with me. I was upset, as I thought I had done well by telling the truth. So, when I was about fourteen I opened it again, but some reason I could not touch anything else as I remember my dad, I told you about the silver coin. I think he died because I opened the box. People I love died because I brought bad luck to them. Just like as Cleopatra brought death to many who were close to her’ Cleo cried uncontrollably.’

‘Oh my dear do not blame your self, do not believe in curses and all. That. Your mum had a car accident and unfortunately lost her own and the boys lives, your father died from Corona infection, it has nothing to with you’

When Cleo came out of the room, she looked completely different. Thin due to lack of nutrition. She looked exceptionally sad. ‘Cleopatra died after the news of suicide of Mark Anthony’s suicide” Sad said in a low voice.

‘But this Cleo will not die before until she destroys the power of Octavian. Who insults the power of mighty nature continuously, he must be stopped’ Cleo voice was strong and fiery. Her face was red, her eyes were like a pair of fire balls. Had she lost her mind? Sara wondered.

Is Cleo looking for Octavian?

Now she is gone! Where? To do what? Oh my god!

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