Rohan Garg was walking back to his house late at night. It had been a chilly winter in northern India that season and the tall young boy used to live in the city of Narsinghma. It was a city with a fitting and serene backdrop of the mountain range of the Himalayas. That night in particular was considerably cold than any of the previous nights that month. Rohan rubbed his hands frantically in a desperate attempt to take control of his numb fingers. As he reached his house which was on a hilltop, he went straight to his bathroom to take a hot water shower. He seemed to have cried that night as his eyes were swollen red and his body language suggested that he wasn’t quite sober.
He wrapped himself in thick layers of woolen clothing and meandered towards his balcony to admire the view of the entire city. Just then, suddenly there was a loud bang on the door which jolted him into action. He rushed to open his front door as he feared that the door to break down if he didn’t open it soon enough. There was an old bald man with an umbrella wearing a thick rain coat. It wasn’t raining. It hadn’t been raining for months!
“Hello?”, said Rohan looking confused and alarmed.
“Hello Rohan”, said the man calmly
“Can I come inside?”, asked the old man gently
“Um, Who are you sir? And how do you know my name?”, asked Rohan slightly taken aback by the stranger who seemed to know his name.
“My name is Roland.”, said the man patiently waiting at the half open door.
“How can I help you?” asked Rohan thinking hard about how he must have known his name.
“Did I order something? Or does he know someone who knows me?”, he thought to himself.
“Well it’s cold in here, isn’t it?”, said the old man trying to wear a smile which he only managed half heartedly.
“ Sir I’m sorry but I don’t know you and… Forgive me but I don’t see why I should be entertaining this meeting at this late hour?
“I’ll tell you all about it when I come inside. You see I am not from around here. And I need your help in particular. I know your father. His name is Paresh, isn’t it? Now can I?”, said the old man showing signs of impatience now as he held the door and almost forced to open it.
“ His name is Paresh, Yes. And you mean you knew my father. He’s no more.”, said Rohan as he opened the door and walked towards his hallway turning away from the old man.
“Oh I’m sorry” said the old man seemingly taken aback.
He took a minute as clearly he wasn’t ready for this piece of information. He seemed to have lost purpose and didn’t know how to proceed so he took his time, looked around and admired the wooden flooring and high ceiling of the neatly arranged house.
“How did you know him?” Asked Rohan after a long pause as he stared on towards the dark horizon visible from his giant windows.
“Oh I thought I did. But it’s so silly of me. Of course there will be some differences here from there.” Rumbled the old man more to himself than to answer the question.
“Can I have some of that scotch?”, he added pointing to the bottle of Johnny Walker kept on the table near the fireplace.
“ And can we light it up?”, he added further slightly shivering.
“Alright that’s enough. Tell me who are you and what do you want?”, asked Rohan angrily as he closely observed the old man now.
“ I’m you Rohan. From an alternate universe. Existing at a different time. In my world I still have my father. In my world it was raining just minutes ago from when I left. In fact I don’t quite understand how I ended up here but I was running a large scale quantum algorithm in my office since many days and something happened. I’ve been struggling to comprehend where my office had suddenly vanished and I was in a 21st century of sorts. Feels like the stone age to be honest. The cars were back on the roads and people still had fresh water to drink. Freely available at most places at least. I’ve been able to track some things down and finally found some connection. You’re a software developer as well aren’t you?”, finished the old man while he grabbed the bottle of scotch and poured himself a drink.
Rohan was dumbstruck and couldn’t move a muscle. At the same moment he had thoughts of hitting the old man with something heavy, running away, pinching himself awake, jumping from his window, calling the cops and hugging the old man and crying till dawn all at once.
“I know how it must be. How you must be feeling I mean. It would have sounded like magic. But it’s just science.” Said the old man calmly taking another sip from the scotch.
To be continued …