As the fireplace crackled with fire. There stood two men in a beautiful balcony overseeing the cityscape late at night, holding a glass each of scotch in their hands. One of the two was drinking it calmly while the other seemed to have lost the floor beneath him. Rohan Garg seemed unable to move but after two long minutes he mustered up the courage to ask him the burning question.
“So what happens now?”, he asked.
“I don’t know. I guess I want to go back.” replied Roland while his younger self from an alternate universe stood there as if someone had handed him a hallucinogenic potion.
“You guess?” said Rohan surprised. He could feel his reality shifting dramatically.
“Yes, I mean, I wish to go back but I don’t know how? I don’t think the technology exists here that’ll be able to send me back.” said Roland, now even he seemed to ponder the ramifications of the situation.
“This is just a fucking joke.” said Rohan who threw his glass towards Roland who ducked just in time to avoid the flying scotch.
“Listen you seemed to have lost your cool and that’s understandable.” said Roland.
“I would have done the same perhaps. This doesn’t happen everyday to everybody.” he added further still trying to be calm.
“I do not believe you. This is nonsensical. How, why and… how? I have so many questions. You don’t… even seem different. It’s like just someone normal… and with a raincoat and… behaving all stupid. Maybe you’re on drugs. Yes that’s what it probably is…” stammered Rohan struggling to put words out of his mouth his body shaking.
And then suddenly something triggered Roland to stay absolutely still. There were flashes of lightning and thunder and Rohan could swear that he’d seen his old self go transparent for one full second and then become opaque again. The curtains in the hall were dancing all over the place and the flashes of lightning continued. That really took the lights out of Rohan and he started running towards the outside of the house.
He didn’t even care to look back as he grabbed his front door and headed for the road that lead to the city from the hilltop. After he almost ran about a hundred meters away from his house he turned back. The ground beneath him started shaking uncontrollably and about 70–80 bolts of lightning hit his house all at once and they seemed to be not ending.
He didn’t know what to do or who to call at this late hour. There was nobody else on the streets. And then suddenly he heard someone right in his ear.
“I am going back Rohan. Come back inside. I only have a few minutes left.” said Roland’s voice.
Things had already been past weird for Rohan so this didn’t shake him as much as the ground did a few moments back. He knew he had no choice. He thought that if that man wanted to hurt him, he already would have. He started believing that this man wasn’t really from this place. So walked back inside to find Roland standing there transparently but just as calm from before.
“The programme must have sensed an anomaly and change of mass and auto-started to reverse the process. I will soon be back in my pod in my world. You don’t have to worry. I am not going to bother you for long. I kinda was excited to meet you actually but you were…” before Roland could finishing saying Rohan interjected.
“I’m sorry. But …”
“It’s okay. I wasn’t very confident and optimistic either when I was your age. I don’t have much time maybe 2 minutes more.”, finished Roland this time.
“Okay so how did I turn out? I mean how did you turn out? What does the future hold for me? I mean did I find the right girl? How are my Mom and Dad?”, fumbled Rohan trying to speak fast.
“You mean my Mom and Dad? They’re dead. But in my world they were alive 50 years ago. and Yes I did find the right girl. She’s nice. unfortunately she went away too but we had a good time. I have kids too now. You see we’re not the same because we won’t make the same choices as we go along. Our worlds won’t make the same choices. My world is a consequence of what decisions were made in my world. And trust me, my world isn’t perfect either.”, said Roland.
“That’s very optimistic.”, said Rohan sarcastically.
“I know, it isn’t but that’s what it is. All you have is hope. And that’s all I have too. Maybe we have different circumstances and a different environment but there is always hope. I know because I had lost hope when I was young. We all make mistakes. Choose the wrong friends, the wrong profession, the wrong partner and wrong environment and so on. I am saying this because I know you must have made some wrong choices. I read some of your text messages on your phone while you were gone. Your girlfriend doesn’t look too happy, does she? She’s quite demanding I feel. I didn’t meet anyone named Payal in my time so there you go. You must have made the choice to meet this girl and maybe it’s right, maybe it’s wrong. Who knows? But what I’ve learned is that you can’t lose hope. Ever.”, finished Roland as he was almost fully transparent now.
Rohan could not say anything but just stared at the fading man in wonder.
“That doesn’t sound cheerful”, smirked Rohan.
Just then Roland gestured Rohan to come up to him which he did. He tried slapping him with all his power but all he felt was a breeze across his face.
“Shit. Too late now.”, said Roland with a rise smile. He had almost disappeared.
“At least I know one thing about you. You will always do the thing that you love. You’ll work as a coder to save the world. And you’ll always love your work. Even if there are problems around it.” he added.
“Thank you.” said Rohan finally breaking into a rise smile.
“Thank you for the scotch. It’s better over here.”, said no one in particular.
The young tall boy from Narsinghma was hugging thin air in his apartment at 5:45 am as his eyes saw the first hint of dawn. The End.