The dream and the slogan – Abdul Sattar

101

Christopher Columbus was immersed in deep thought, wondering what led to the terrible shipwreck leaving him stranded in a deserted place. He summoned some courage to walk around the area. Suddenly, the serene beauty of the place caught his attention. He found himself in a strange giant village with snow-capped mountains on the one side and fertile plains and rivers on the other side. The shipwreck indicated that the place was also gifted with the sea. This made him conclude that the area must be prosperous.

But to his utter surprise the place was depopulated marred by the ruins of a terrible flood or an earthquake or some other form of natural catastrophe. He drudged along the shipwreck area, venturing out slowly, walking miles and miles but could not find any trace of humans. All he could see were the remnants of some palatial structures, and the ruins of some markets, libraries and housing colonies. A number of roads were also visible. Some parts of the village seemed to have aristocratic housing colonies because their strong walls resisted the natural calamity that may have befallen on this hapless place. A number of forts and buildings also escaped a total devastation and destruction.

Columbus’ curiosity prompted him to go deeper into the ruined village. He roamed about the village, going from one corner to another, moving north, west, east, south and centre – but could not find any trace that might help him understand why the village could not sustain the natural calamity. During this hunt all he could see was a four-word slogan written on broken walls, minarets of forts and in the foundations of ruined buildings. He went to the libraries of the village where thousands of books were still lying scattered and to his utter surprise he found the same four-word slogan.

He headed off into another direction in a frantic search, going through narrow alleys and ending up in a large store room. He was flabbergasted by the piles of newspapers that had filled the plac,e and wondered why they did not perish in the calamity. He grabbed one newspaper as if he were a voracious reader. He was sure that the papers would come up with the answer that he had been looking for. He thought he was close to the key that could unlock this baffling mystery but he was stunned to see the same four-worded slogan here. He grabbed another newspaper skimming through it, by the night he had gone through a million newspapers and all had the same four-worded-slogan.

He went to the record room of the Panchayat, thinking that the people’s representatives would have said things about this village and its problems. They would have discussed its economy, politics and the problems that the giant village may have faced. They must have pondered over the possible danger posed by the natural calamity. They must have come up with a plan to prevent it or rescue people. They must have put in place some sort of mechanism to deal with this situation. But the thick registers of the Panchayat record room also contained the same four-worded slogan.

He decided to visit the nearby valleys of the village in a bid to find the answer. The disheveled Columbus was now extremely thirsty after walking miles and miles but he seemed to be determined to find the answer before he could eat or drink anything. As soon as he reached one of the valleys, he could see some words engraved in mighty rocks. He rushed towards them hoping to finally get the answer to the mystery. As he approached the mountains, his head started spinning, all he could see was the same four-worded slogan. It was not just one mountain where this slogan was engraved but all the mountains and their peaks were brimming with the same slogan.

Within no time Columbus felt that the same slogan was echoing everywhere from the rising waves of the sea to the gushing water of the spring, from the snow-capped mountains to the depth of the valleys, from the deserts of the place to the fertile plains of this strange village. This four-worded slogan was haunting him. He felt as if he were suffering from paranoia. He was trying to shut the doors without realizing that he was in open space. Everything around him seemed to be immersed in a strange incantation of this four-worded slogan which he could not decipher. Tired of this, he went into deep meditation in a bid to find out what the four-worded slogan meant but to his utter surprise, he could hear nothing but the same slogan even during his meditation. This really drove him crazy. He packed up and decided to leave the place.

He returned from the fabled village, attracting the attention of the media in Washington DC, determined to find out what the four-worded slogan was all about, wondering how a mere slogan led to the destruction of a people and a civilization. The slogan was written in a strange language that nobody was able to decipher. But as soon as he narrated the story, it attracted slurs and insults. Many declared Columbus insane, saying it could not be possible, declaring it was a figment of his imagination, and had nothing to do with reality.

Now, Columbus decided to play his trump card. He withdrew all his money that he had been accumulating since the time of his first voyage to the Bahamas, buying off some private contractors who could take him to space. A strange thought had earlier convinced him that the only way to decipher this language is to go into space. He was now ready to undertake this arduous journey. Piled on his shoulder were the pieces of rocks engraved with this four-worded slogan and the sacks of newspapers, and the books that he had found at the library as well as the register of the Panchayat’s record room.

He went around space, going from one place to another but could not find the answer he needed. He sunk in deep despair thinking he should give it up and go back to his usual life. Suddenly a cold wave of flash dazzled him. Some strange creature was rushing towards him, forcing him to duck. Another creature emerged from a different direction in a bid to descend upon his head, he ran frantically to avoid the wrath of this terrible being. In a fit of rage he started running into different directions, uttering incomprehensible curses and hurling abuses at all those who had mocked at him. Tired of running, he tried to sit at some place thinking that he was on earth but no sooner did he try to do so, a storm started flinging him from one place to another. He had tightly held all the stuff containing this four-worded slogan and was not ready to lose the grip.

When he realized he could not hold onto it any longer, he thrust the stuff on a wall-type screen and to his utter amazement the meaning of this four-worded-slogan emerged on this screen. It said: Might is always right. Hearing this, Columbus haeaved a sigh of relief – and my son said, “Wake up! I am running late for school.”

The writer is a freelance journalist.