A Time Traveller's Whim

Hundreds of years ago, a land where reality was nothing short of magic, was struck by the insomnia plague. Contagious that it was, soon an entire village was gobbled up. In the beginning, the people couldn't have been more thankful to God because they had twice the time they used to have. But gradually, the peril unveiled itself, insomnia was obviously accompanied by amnesia. People began to forget. Everything about everything. Soon they had post-its on their cows saying that this was a cow. And later, lest they forgot, what to do with the cow, a note was added that it was to be milked every morning, milk which was to be boiled, added to coffee and sugar and drunk.

In a matter of months, entire houses had chits pasted on every inch of the wall. But one thing was inevitable, the past began to erase itself. Quietly, people began to lose track of who they were, who they had been. Like their life had been reduced to a single point; now. There used to be a palmist cum card reader who used to foretell the future before the plague had struck. Now she was asked by many, to read the past. And this old woman, studied lines on palms from their very origin, to reconstruct what had been, before hungry eyes who had lost all sense of their being.

This story appealed to me, got me thinking. The past is all I have. Despite being strewn with my anger and disappointments, strangely enough I owe it my entire life. And besides, before I deny it, I have wanted to go back in moments, sometimes to etched dates on the calender, sometimes to random stretches of time. To one of those grueling days at college, when I would open my eyes after a night's journey to the familiarity of home. To one of those long pre-dawn walks, intended to go nowhere, not even to see sunrise, but just to keep walking till the calves gave up. To not staring at the crackers bursting in the night sky, but at their reflection in his glasses, and being asked, what kind of a guy I thought he was. Some changed answers could have changed a lifetime of other things, filled solitude with compassion or even love.

But that's not why I want to go back, I wouldn't ever want to change what has happened. Like I said, I owe myself to the past, as it is. But the sheer wish to go back in time, the helplessness of not being able to do so, makes me realize that I am still, no matter how frailly, connected to myself. That fleeting whim of time travel, also makes me believe that what has been has almost been a trifle worth it.


Surya Prakash V said...


Here me wi - If now I am in flux; if then my future bears the weight of my past; then now; I can easily change my past.

Wish I could explain without writing an essay; but please take my word for it; and just ignore it.

Raj said...

its a lovely post. touchy. but its funny how life is. the more you treasure one thing, the lesser you treasure the other. and one can never know what to treasure.

start writing a diary. just a thought.

Syed Ali Hamid said...

Is the story from Marquez?
Remembered this Urdu couplet on reading this:
Haal dukh dega to maazi pe nazar jaayegi/ Zindagi haadsa ban ban ke guzar jaayegi.

Blasphemous Aesthete said...

It's funny how we know that insomnia could reduce us to zombies if encouraged, and yet when in distress, we seek solace in it. I wish I could stop them.

Nice post.

Blasphemous Aesthete

wildflower said...

Try me, write out that essay ;)

Diary? Well that's from where this blog has sprung!

Marquez it is. One hundred years of solitude.

You seek solace in insomnia? I, in sleep.

Blasphemous Aesthete said...

Oh no, not me. I sleep, and then I forget. SO there is little room for solace and regrets. :D

But I have seen people, who revel in insomnia. Don't know how.